Packers split doubleheader with Mankato West

The Packers put on one of their best and one of their worst hitting performances as they split a baseball doubleheader against Mankato West on senior night Thursday at Dick Seltz Field.

Austin (4-15 overall, 3-13 Big Nine) racked up 15 hits in the opener, but had just two hits in the nightcap.

“We can’t be satisfied with one game and it seemed like we kind of were,” Austin head coach Troy Watkins said. “It’s a mental toughness thing and we have to continue to battle and play.”

Austin scored two runs in five separate innings in the opener. The Packers were clinging to a 4-3 lead in the fifth, when Mike Tindal blasted a run scoring double into deep left field and Nate Paris, who had struck out on his first three at-bats, knocked a two-out, run-scoring single up the middle to make it 6-3.

Quinn Yocom laced a double down the left field line to score two runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it 8-3.

“It felt good to finally hit the ball well and the whole team came through. Everybody kept battling and everybody was into it,” said Austin first baseman Brady Klingfus, who had three doubles on the day. “It was all fast balls (in the first game) and I was seeing the ball well and I was just going with it.”

Klingfus played a key role in a defensive play in the fourth inning that kept the Packers in control. Matt Anderson singled for the Scarlets with a Tyler Swanson on second. Quinn Yocom retrieved the ball in the outfield and fired it to Klingfus, who hit catcher Jacob Hines just in time throw out Swanson at the plate.

“I bet if I got that ball back, I couldn’t throw that right where it was in nine more tries and if Hines would’ve moved his glove one bit he would’ve gotten under the tag,” Klingfus said. “Quinn made a beautiful toss in the outfield.”

Austin sophmore pitcher Jared Gardner walked the next two hitters and he allowed a run on a wild pitch to make it 4-3, but he struck out Nick Kaus with the bases loaded to end the frame.

Gardner picked up the win in his first varsity start and Preston Higbe picked up a three-inning save.

In the second game, Klingfus struck out four in the first inning, but the Scarlets reached on two of those strikeouts due to a wild pitch and a passed ball. West (11-6 overall, 11-6 Big Nine) also had three singles in the first inning as it jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

“I didn’t know it was quite possible to have four strikeouts in an inning,” said Klingfus. “But after that, the defense made plays behind me for the rest of the game.”

The Packers coudln’t find any offense in the nightcap loss.

“Just because things don’t go our way right away, you can’t stop playing,” Watkins said.

MW 0 0 2 1 0 0 1 — 4 9 2

Austin 2 0 2 0 2 2 X — 8 15 2

Austin pitching: Jared Gardner (W), 4 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 K; Preston Higbe (S), 3 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 2 K

Austin hitting: Jay Ettinger, 2-for-2, R, 2 BBs; Nate Paris, 1-for-4, RBI; Joey Swatfager, 0-for-4; Higbe, 3-for-4, double, 2 R; Brady Klingfus, 2-for-4, 2 doubles, RBI, 2 R; Quinn Yocom, 2-for-4, double, 3 RBIs; Anthony Condit, 3-for-4; Gardner, 0-for-1, HBP; Robert Wahlert, 0-for-3, R; Mike Tindal, 2-for-2, RBI, R

MW 4 0 0 0 2 0 0 — 6 10 2

Austin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 2

Austin pitching: Klingfus (L), 7 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 6 R, 5 ER, 6 K

Austin hitting: Ettinger, 0-for-3; Paris, 0-for-3; Swatfager, 0-for-2, BB; Higbe, 0-for-2, BB; Klingfus, 1-for-3, double; Tindal, 0-for-3; Condit, 1-for-2, BB; Jack Miller, 0-for-1; Josh Hart, 0-for-1; Yocom, 0-for-2; Jacob Hines, 0-for-1, BB