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Packers make plays to beat Winona baseball team

The Austin baseball team showed some serious strides in a 5-2 win over Winona at Dick Seltz Field Thursday.

Winona had two runners on with one out in the sixth and it had two runners on with no outs in the first inning, but the Packers (3-11 overall, 2-10 Big Nine) got out of both jams.

In the sixth, Austin second baseman Nate Paris fielded a grounder and flipped it to Joey Swatfagger, who turned a double play to end the inning. In the seventh, catcher Jacob Hines made to catches on pop ups and the game ended on a fly-out.

Preston Higbe picked up the win by going seven innings, while scattering eight hits and five walks.

“We talked to our pitchers about keeping composure and when bad things happen to think about the next pitch,” Austin head coach Troy Watkins said. “Preston did a good job of doing that and we made some plays behind him today. We’ve given up some of those games where we don’t make the plays so it was nice to make them and win.”

Higbe, who struck out four and allowed just two earned runs, was making his first start on the mound after a few relief appearances earlier this season. He allowed two runs in the first two innings, but shutout the Winhawks (5-4 overall, 4-4 Big Nine) for the last five innings.

“I was a little worried about endurance because I hadn’t thrown that many innings, but I guess your adrenaline starts rushing and you just get into the groove, especially when you start throwing the zeros up on the board,” Higbe said.

Austin did all of its damages in the first two innings as Jay Ettinger and Mike Tindal scored on two-out wild pitches in the first.

The Packers took the lead for good in the second when Ettinger knocked in a run with a two-out single to right field, later he scored on another wild pitch and Joey Swatfager drew a bases loaded walk to make it 5-2.

“I worked on my swing in the offseason and it’s been feeling pretty good,” said Ettinger, who had was 2-for-4 with an RBI Thursday and 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs in a win Tuesday. “But if you ask my teammates, most of them will say that most of my hits are lucky.”

The Packers have now won back-to-back games after dropping seven straight and the team is feeling some confidence.

“ I thought we had a good team this whole year and now we’re just starting to put it together and finish games,” Ettinger said. “Hopefully, there will be more of this to come.”

Winona 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 — 2 8 2

Austin 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 — 5 5 2

Austin pitching: Preston Higbe (W), 7 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 2 ER, 4 K

Austin hitting: Jay Ettinger, 2-for-4, RBI, 2 R; Nate Parish, 1-for-3, BB; Joey Swatfagger, 0-for-2, RBI, BB; Higbe, 1-for-2, BB; Brady Klingfus, 1-for-3; Quinn Yocom, 0-for-2, BB; Anthony Condit, 0-for-1, R, 2 BBs; Alex Earl, 0-for-2; Jacob Hines, 0-for-2, BB; Mike Tindal, 0-for-1, R, SB

Winona pitching: Kyle Kowalewsi (L), 5 IP, 4 H, 7 BB, 5 ER, 3 K

Winona hitting: Ryan Woodard, 1-for-4; Brandon Beech, 2-for-4, RBI; Arik Jacquart, 1-for-2, double, RBI; Logan Hemker, 0-for-4; Kowalewsi, 0-for-1; Jared Gilbertson, 1-for-3; Sam Morken, 2-for-4; Jordan Romine, 1-for-4; Broc Schmidt, 0-for-4