Blue Sox prevail against Hounds

Published 11:53 pm Friday, August 13, 2010

Blue Sox lead-off batter Andy Swank swings on a pitch during their elimination game against the Greyhounds Friday night Marcusen Park. The Blue Sox prevailed 7-6 to get to state. -- Eric Johnson/

Just when it looked like the Austin Greyhounds were heading to the state amateur baseball tournament, Casey Toops, the Blue Sox’s No. 9 hitter, hit his first career Marcusen Park homerun in five years to spur a 7-6 Blue Sox comeback win Friday.

With the Blue Sox trailing 6-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, Toops led off the inning with a solo home run over the right field fence off Dave Meyer, who was pitching in relief.

“I was thinking I don’t want this to be my last at-bat, since I’m probably retiring after this year,” Toops said. “So I figured why not go down swinging and you can’t ask for anything better than tying it up on a home run against the Greyhounds. It’s incredible, (Meyer) owns us just about every single time.”

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After Toops’ blast, Andy Swank singled and scored from first on a Craig Selk double down the left field line to win the game.

“Our mind-set is no matter who’s out there we don’t give up and we rally around each other,” Blue Sox manager Josh Kunze said. “We felt we were the best team in the section.”

Scoring the winning run had to be a relief for Swank, who dropped a fly ball with two outs to allow John Kirby to score to put the Hounds up 6-5 in the eighth. Swank also dropped a fly ball with two outs in fifth to allow to Greyhound runs.

“Swank’s a great outfielder and that’s a tough line drive right at him (in the eighth) and the other one drifted on him,” Toops said. “I trust him to get a hit in the ninth every single time and it was good to see him redeem himself.”

Joe Huffman picked up the win on the mound, just two days after allowing four runs in two innings in a loss to the Royals.

“I went home Wednesday night and sat on the couch and I couldn’t sleep,” Huffman said. “I wanted another chance and I wasn’t going to give it up. I didn’t pitch that great but I battled and those guys came through for me.”

Zach Schara delivers in the first inning of their elimination game with the Blue Sox Friday night at Marcusen Park. -- Eric Johnson/

The Hounds (13-15 overall) took a 5-4 lead in the top of the sixth when John Frein drove in a run with two outs to tie the game. Frein scored on a single by Nick Rohne to give his team the lead.

The Blue Sox tied the game up at five in the seventh when Swank doubled to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI-single by Selk.

The Blue Sox (20-9 overall) will open the Class ‘B’ state amateur baseball tournament at Bird Island or Willmar next Saturday against Chaska or Shakopee.

Toops has eight homeruns in his career, but hasn’t hit one in the past four years.

Hounds 0 0 0 0 2 3 0 1 0 — 6 12 0

Blue Sox 1 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 2 — 7 14 2

Blue Sox pitching: Joe Huffman (W), 9 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 6 R, 3 ER, 4 K, 1 HBP

Blue Sox hitting: Andy Swank, 3-for-4 double, 4 R, SB, BB; Aaron Port, 2-for-4, RBI; Craig Selk, 2-for-4, double, 3 RBIs, BB; Dan Swift, 2-for-4, double, RBI; Josh Kunze, 0-for-2, BB; Steve Serratore, 1-for-4; Darin Wagner, 0-for-3, SB, BB; Joe Kroc, 2-for-4, R; Casey Toops, 2-for-4, HR, RBI, 2 R

Hounds pitching: Zach Schara, 6 1/3 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 5 ER, 3 K; Dave Meyer (L), 2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 1 K

Hounds hitting: Nick Rohne, 3-for-5, RBI, R; Mitch Mullenbach, 1-for-3, R, HBP; Craig Braaten, 1-for-5; Matt Raso, 1-for-4; Tyler Leopold, 1-for-4, R, BB; Bryan Toov, 3-for-5, R; John Kirby, 1-for-3, double, R; Nick Bowe, 0-for-2, RBI, BB; John Frein, 1-for-4, RBI, R, SB; Quinn Yocom, SB