So close, yet so far away: Packers knocked off by Wingers

Published 1:19 am Wednesday, June 6, 2018

RED WING — The Austin baseball team couldn’t overcome a nightmare fifth inning as it had its season and its hopes for its first state tournament appearance in more than two decades come to an end in a 6-5 loss to Red Wing in the Section 1AAA title game in Red Wing Tuesday.

The Packers (15-7 overall) looked to be in control when they grabbed a 4-0 lead on a two-run double by Hunter Johnson and an RBI double by Ross Young in the top of the fifth inning. The Wingers (15-8 overall) bounced back with six runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning and three of those runs came on a two-out double to left field by RW’s Dylan Mittelsted after Austin had committed a fielding error.

Austin’s Michael O’Connor pitches against Red Wing in the Section 1AAA title game in Red Wing Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/

Austin had a chance to take the lead back in the bottom of the fifth when it loaded the bases with no outs, but the Packers got just one run on a bases loaded walk from Josi Bothun as RW relief pitcher Seth Yeatman came in and got out of the jam. Yeatman struck out three and he allowed zero runs in the last three innings.

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“He was a little effectively wild with his fast ball, but I thought he had a nice, sharp slider which gave our guys some issues with timing, and he had a good fast ball,” Austin head coach Joe Kroc said. “I was really proud of our guys with their first pitcher and they followed our gameplay to a T.”

The loss stung hard for an Austin team that was hoping to break through and get to state, but junior catcher Hunter Guyette said the season was about more than simply wins and losses.

Austin’s Ross Young looks up after being called out on a slide at second base against the Wingers in Red Wing Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/

“It’s all the memories. It’s not about winning the state championships or making the state championships,” Guyette said. “I think the biggest thing that comes with this is team chemistry and building memories that’ll last a lifetime. This was probably one of the most fun years of baseball I’ve had, and this is definitely a group of guys that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Austin had eight seniors on the team this season that provided the core leadership and Kroc said it is a group that will certainly be missed.

“I’m just really proud of our seniors,” Kroc said. “They’re unbelievable players and with what Jack Dankert did this year, I think he’s an All-State player. They’re great players and even better young men. What they’ve done this year has been unbelievable. Unfortunately we just fell a little short.”

The Austin baseball team holds up its Section 1AAA runner-up trophy in Red Wing Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/

RW 0 0 0  0 6 0  0    6   7   0

Austin 0 0 0  4 1 0  X    5  10  2

Austin pitching: Michael O’Connor (L) 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 R, 3 ER, 6 K; Josi Bothun, 2 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 0 R, 5 K

Austin hitting: Jack Dankert, 0-for-3, BB; Riley Retterath, 0-for-4; Hunter Guyette, 2-for-4; Phillip Zynda, 2-for-3, 2 R, BB; AJ Mueller, 1-for-2, R, HBP; Riley Retterath, 0-for-2, RBI, BB; Hunter Johnson, 2-for-3, double, 2 RBIs, R; Bothun, 1-for-2, RBI, BB; Ross Young, 2-for-3, double, RBI