Post 1216 struggles against a tough pitcher, now facing elimination

Published 7:50 pm Thursday, August 12, 2021

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If the Austin Post 1216 baseball team wants to win a state title, it will have to do it the hard way.

Austin lost its first game of the State VFW Tournament when it ran into a tough pitcher and fell 4-1 to Maple Grove in Marcusen Park Thursday.

Austin will take on Hermantown or St. Cloud in an elimination game in Seltz Field at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Austin (27-4 overall) went into the state tournament on a 22-game winning streak and will now have to win five straight if it wants to win a state title.

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“We can’t talk about doing anything but winning tomorrow,” Austin head coach David Lillemon said. “We’ll go with (Brayden) Bishop (on the mound) and he gives us the best chance. The team we’re playing will have two games under our belt and we hope to come back. It’s just one game at a time right now.”

Post 1216 went hitless in the first six innings on Thursday as MG pitcher Cole Newell struck out nine in that span. Jared Lillemon finally broke up the no-hitter when he doubled to left field to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Newell allowed just three baserunners in seven innings of work.

“He had a terrific fast ball with a great curveball. He was awful tough and he was very good, but what kept us in the game was our defense. It kept bailing us out and I really thought we were going to win the game. The longer it goes, you keep feeling you’re going to get a cheap one,” Lillemon said. “We’ll bounce back. We’re resilient. Their pitcher was the best we’ve seen and hats off to them.”

After knocking on the door all game long, Maple Grove finally broke through when Sam Kliber roped a two-run double to right field in the top of the seventh to put Austin in its first deficit of the game.

MG nearly took a big lead earlier in the top of the fourth, but Austin pitcher Nick Robertson wasn’t having it. A bloop single by MG’s Hunter Gerber loaded the bases with no outs, but Robertson responded in a big way with three straight strikeouts — the last two coming on a full count.

MG had the bases loaded again with two outs in the top of the fifth and Robertson avoided trouble again. 

Austin had runners at first and second with one out in the third, but it wasn’t able to plate a run.

MG had a runner on second with one out in the top of the second inning when Austin third baseman Kody Bloom made a fantastic catch on a line drive by Nathan Schmit. Bloom threw to second to turn an inning-ending double play. 

MG 000  000 4  —  4  7  1

Austin 000  000 1  —  1  1  0

Austin pitching: Nick Robertson, 5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 0 R, 5 K, HBP; Peyton Ransom (L) 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 BBs, 4 ER; Jake Truckenmiller, 1 IP, 0 R

Austin hitting: Sam Oelfke, 0-for-3; Ransom, 0-for-3; Jared Lillemon, 1-for-3, double, R; Robertson, 0-for-3; Mac Nelson, 0-for-3; Brayden Bishop, 0-for-2; Kody Blom, 0-for-2; Connor Munson, 0-for-1, BB; Isaiah Conway, 0-for-2; Truckenmiller, 0-for-1

MG pitching: Cole Newell, 7 IP, 1 H, BB, 1 ER, 9 K

MG hitting: Jacob Kilzer, 1-for-3, BB; Sam Kliber, 2-for-3, double, RBI, HBP; Tanner Albeck, 0-for-1, 3 BBs; Hunter Gerber, 2-for-2, double, RBI, 2 BBs; Cal Fischer, 0-for-4; Nathan Schmit, 0-for-2, BB; Michael Ross, 0-for-2; Noah Black, 1-for-1; Cayden Vokal, 1-for-2; Dylan Lempe, 0-for-2