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Blue Sox edge out Mankato Mets

The Austin Blue Sox made the biggest defensive play of the night at the right time to hang on to beat the Mankato Mets 5-4 in Marcusen Park Friday night.

The Mets had two runners on with one out in the top of the ninth, when Austin relief pitcher Mark Harber got Jake Krier to ground into a game ending double play that was turned by Joe Kroc.

“Mark’s really grown up and matured as a baseball pitcher,” Blue Sox manager Josh Kunze said. “He’s been around some good baseball. He’s calm and he doesn’t panic. “

Harber, who allowed three runs in the eighth inning, spent the last spring playing for St. Scholastica, but he didn’t do much pitching, so he’s still finding his rhythm.

Joe Huffman started on the hill for the Blue Sox and he gave them six solid innings, where he struck out nine and allowed one earned run.

“The curve ball was pretty good tonight and the fast ball was a little shaky until the last few innings,” he said. “Once I started getting control of the curve ball, I felt like I could do something. I had some guys fishing on the curve.”

Dan Swift tied the game at one in the first inning when he drilled a run-scoring double to center field.

Swift, who had three of Austin’s seven hits, also scored the last run of the night for the Blue Sox (5-1 overall) in the sixth inning when Darin Wagner knocked him on a groundout to make it 5-1.

“Dan knows how to prepare himself and he knows what to do. His bat will come around even more than it already has,” Kunze said.

The Blue Sox scored three times in the second to take control early on. Kunze doubled, Kroc knocked in a run with a single up the middle, and Andy Swank knocked in two runs with a two-out, bloop single.

Mankato 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 — 4 7 2

Blue Sox 1 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 X — 5 7 1

Blue Sox pitching: Joe Huffman (W), 6 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 ER, 9 K; Mark Harber (S), 3 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, 1 K

Blue Sox hitting: Andy Swank, 1-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2 SB; Aaron Port, 0-for-4, R; Kyle Young, 0-for-3, BB; Dan Swift, 3-for-4, double, RBI, R; Craig Selk, 0-for-3, BB; Nate Johnson, 0-for-4; Josh Kunze, 1-for-1, double, BB, HBP; Darin Wagner, 1-for-3, RBI; Joe Kroc, 1-for-3, RBI, R; Jamie Pratt, 0-for-1, R, BB; Harber, 0-for-1; Carter Guthmiller, R