Column: Hounds and Blue Sox have a big week ahead of them

Published 4:30 pm Monday, July 27, 2009

The time is now for the Austin Blue Sox and Austin Greyhounds to step up their game as they prepare for the upcoming amateur baseball playoffs, which begin Sunday, Aug. 9

This will be the last week of Section 2B play with the Blue Sox (17-5 overall, 2-0 Section 2B) looking to lock up a first round bye in the three team division, and the Greyhounds (12-14 overall, 1-2 Section 2B) looking to force a three-way tie or earn a first round home game.

The action starts Wednesday when the Blue Sox head to Rochester. If they win that contest they will not have to play a tournament game until Aug. 12 and they would give the Greyhounds a chance to get a first round home game against the Royals (the Hounds would have to beat the Blue Sox Thursday or win a coin toss against Rochester to get a home game).

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Or things could get really messy.

If the Blue Sox lose to the Royals and the Hounds, there will be a three-way tie, which will enforce a coin toss to decide the seedings.

This is exactly how the top three teams finished in the Section last year and I’m sure the Blue Sox don’t want to go through that again.

Last year thee Blue Sox pulled off a big win over the Royals on the last game of the season, but lost a coin toss to end up with the third seed. They lost to Dave Meyer and the Hounds twice in the playoffs and saw their season come to an end.

If the Blue Sox want to lock up the top seed, they’d better get a full squad ready this week. After winning their first 10 games and starting off 14-1, they have dropped three of their last six while having trouble to get their whole team on the field at once.

When they have everyone, they have three standout pitchers: Joe Huffman (3-1, 1.70 ERA), Brian Voigt (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and Mitch Jaeger (3-0, 0.84 ERA) plus plenty of guys who can provide some solid spot relief.

Offensively, they have three guys hitting over .300: Nate Johnson (.392), Dan Swift (.354, 3 HR, 24 RBIs) and Aaron Port (.328, 9 RBIs).

While the Blue Sox have been struggling, the Hounds are coming full throttle into August. Since losing to Rochester 10-5, they have won seven of nine with both of their losses coming to quality opponents.

They have also found some pitching depth to go along with Meyer, as John Kirby will see more innings now that the Legion season is over and John Halverson has gotten much stronger as well.

While Matt Cano has been slumping slightly by his standards, the Hounds are getting quality hitting from Craig Braaten, Tyler Leopold and Matt Raso.

It should be an interesting week for the Blue Sox and the Hounds and this is the time of year amateur baseball gets very exciting.

Thursday is also an appreciation night for baseball in Austin, with the Blue Sox and Hounds starting play at 8 p.m. at Marcusen Park. Come on out and enjoy some quality baseball with a lot of local players.