On the Mark: Longtime veteran lifts Hounds to a victory over Royals

Published 10:57 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022

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As the longest tenured Austin Greyhound, Mark Harber has seen most everything on the amateur baseball scene. But he did something Wednesday night that most baseball players never see as he helped boost the the Hounds to a 9-4 win over the Rochester Royals 9-4 in Marcusen Park.

Harber gave the Hounds a much-needed shot of life in the bottom of the sixth inning when he launched a fly ball into deep right field that was about an inch away from being a two-run homer. Harber’s fly ball bounced off the top of the fence and it bounced back onto the field, ending in a 344-foot RBI single.

“I have actually seen a ball bounce off the fence like that before. When we were kids, John Kirby hit one off the top of the fence in Northfield, but it went over the fence. The umpire called it a ground rule double for some reason and we all were mad,” Harber said. “Tonight was the first time that I saw one bounce back onto the field. It was fitting that it landed by the concrete sign”

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Harber added another RBI later in the inning when he blooped a single to right to make it 8-4.

Harber, a first baseman and pitcher for Austin, has been playing amateur baseball ever since being on the now defunct Blue Sox in the summer of 2007 and he’s been on the Hounds since 2016. Harber has gained a new love for the sport of baseball as he now plays in front of his two-year old son Brady quite often.

“I kind of had to learn to fall in love with the game again,” Harber said. “Focusing on hitting keeps me going and playing in front of my son is the best.”

The Hounds had trailed 4-0 going into the sixth when their bats came to life in the bottom of the sixth inning. The team tallied eight hits and eight runs to go up 8-4.

Austin took a 5-4 lead on a two-out RBI single by Eric Torres and Jordan Hart singled in two runs with a shot up the middle.

Tony Ciola added an RBI single earlier to bring the Hounds within 4-2, Andrew Schumacher knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice to make it a 4-3 game and Alex Ciola dropped an RBI bloop single into left field to tie it at 4-4. 

The Royals put up three runs in the top of the first inning off of Southland grad and starting pitcher Harrison Hanna.

Alex Ciola held the Royals to just two runs as he scored the win in five and one-thirds of an inning in relief.

“I just had to go out there and throw strikes and let the defense make plays,” Ciola said.

Ciola was a youngster when Harber was playing with the Blue Sox and he’s glad to be his teammate this summer.

“It’s been huge for us to have Mark here,” Ciola said. “He gives us quality at bats and he gives a lot of knowledge of the game.”

Rochester 300  001  001  –  5  13  1

Austin 000  008  10X  –  9  10  2

Hounds pitching: Harrison Hanna 3 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 ER, 1 K; Alex Ciola (W) 5 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 K; Jordan Hart, 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 BBs, 2 K 

Hounds hitting: Alex Ciola, 2-for-5, RBI; Eric Torres, 1-for-4, RBI, BB; Jordan Hart, 1-for-4, 2 RBIs, R, BB; Nestor Jimenez, 0-for-2; Mark Harber, 2-for-4, 2 RBIs, BB, R; Zach Bollingberg, 1-for-4, R; Sam Nelsen, 2-for-3, 2 BBs, 2 R; Tony Ciola, 1-for-3, RBI, 2 BBs; Andrew Schumacher, 0-for-4, RBI, R; Isaac Schumacher, 0-for-1, 2 BB, SB, 2 R; Jordan Ransom, R; Jack Dankert, BB