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Packer seniors make a statement in win over Cougars

The Austin baseball team celebrated its senior night with a complete makeover on the diamond as the Packers took down Mankato East 4-2 at Dick Seltz Field Monday.

The Packers have now allowed just two earned runs in back-to-back wins after they had allowed at least nine runs in five of their six games during a month-long losing streak that included a two-week quarantine.

Austin senior Teyghan Hovland allowed a first inning triple that put the Cougars (11-6 overall) up 1-0, but he was dominant from that point on — finishing with eight strikeouts in six innings. Hovland and the Packers have shown a lot of growth recently as they hope to make a postseason push next week.

“At the beginning of the year, there were a lot of questions, and to be honest, I was kind of nervous as to what would happen,” Hovland said. “I think a lot of these guys are stepping into their role, they’re figuring things out and they’re balling out and being dogs.”

Austin (4-9 overall) took the lead for good in the bottom of the third inning when Jordan Ransom came up with a two-out RBI single. Austin pushed that lead to 4-2 in the fifth when Dakota Retterath had a two-out RBI-single to left field.

Ransom, a senior, is in his first year on the varsity team, but he’s enjoyed his time, even when the team was losing early on.

“I was kind of worried at the start of the year, but it felt normal after the first two games,” he said. “It has felt good being back with these guys and back with the coaches.”

The Packers honored their seniors on Monday and the group includes Hovland, Ransom, Logan Murphy (one-for-two with a run), Bray Klapperick (two walks), Ian Bundy,  Bryce Garroway (one-for-two with an RBI) and Riley Haugen (one-for-three)

“They’ve shown perseverance,” Austin head coach Joe Kroc said of the senior group. “Some of them haven’t had a lot of success, but they’ve come to practice every day and they’ve worked hard. To see Riley Haugen and Bryce Garroway come up and get big hits today meant a lot to me because they’re just good kids.”

Kroc likes what the Packers are doing lately and he hopes the momentum can carry into the Section 1AAA Tournament, which begins on June 1.

“We’re playing better baseball and we’re playing a little bit of small ball. We had a couple of big two out hits and our pitching has been really good,” Kroc said. “Teyghan definitely has some velocity back and it’s good to see him back on the mound, throwing the way he is. Brayden Bishop and Nick Robertson are really throwing well too and that gives us a shot come playoff time.”

Hovland, a St. Cloud State University commit, was recently named to the Lions All-Star Series South Team. The games will be held June 25-26 in Chaska.

“It’s special,” Hovland said of the honor. “It feels good knowing that I get to represent this school and these guys. I hope I get to enjoy it and put Austin on the map again like we did at state (in 2019).”

East 101  000  0  —  2  3  2

Austin 111  010  X  —  4 5  2

Austin pitching: Teyghan Hovland (W) 6 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 1 ER, 8 K, 1 HBP; Nick Robertson (S) 1 IP, 0 R, 1 K, 1 HBP

Austin hitting: Riley Haugen, 1-for-3; Bryce Garroway, 1-for-2, RBI, R, BB; Teyghan Hovland, 0-for-2, SB, BB; Bray Klapperick, 0-for-1, 2 BBs; Lathan Wilson, 0-for-2, RBI, 2 R, SB; Dakota Retterath, 1-for-3, RBI; Jordan Ransom, 1-for-2, RBI, BB; Ian Bundy, 0-for-3; Logan Murphy, 1-for-2, R; Blake Smith, HBP; Robertson, 0-for-1