Band of brothers: Greyhounds enjoy a family connection as they prepare for postseason

Published 2:06 pm Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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Some of the members of the Austin Greyhounds have spent the better part of the summer either getting to know each other or getting reacquainted, but a good portion of the team has known each other for as long as they can remember.

The Hounds, who will begin postseason play in two weeks after finishing first in the Twin Rivers League in the regular season, have four sets of brothers on the roster who have all enjoyed success on the diamond. Those siblings include Isaac and Andrew Schumacher, Anthony and Alex Ciola, Zach and Daniel Bollingberg, and Riley and Dakota Retterath.

Isaac has played every imaginable role at Marcusen Park as he has been a player, coach, fan and even a P.A. announcer at the field.

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“It’s a fun dynamic to play with the guys who you used to coach in high school,” Isaac said. “I call Marcusen my second home. Every part of this place brings comfort. We party here, we play here and we work here. There is nowhere better to be and we’re out here keeping the memories alive.”

While Isaac used to play center field for the Hounds, he has now moved to a back-up role so Andrew can play the position. He doesn’t mind the switch as he acknowledges that Andrew is faster than him.

“We stay pretty competitive with our older brothers, and it’s not just in baseball,” Andrew said. “It goes to all other sports. It’s been really competitive with all of our families.”

The chemistry amongst the brothers on the team has been second to none, and although some grew up playing for the Austin Packers and others were Lyle-Pacelli Athletics, they’ve all blended together as Austin Greyhounds.

“It’s a special season because we have the older guys coming up and the younger guys being old enough to play,” Isaac said. “It really is the perfect storm of everyone being at the right place at the right time.”

The Hounds (16-6 overall) enter the Regional Tournament as the No. 1 seed, which means they will have two weeks of down time before they begin the double elimination postseason in Cannon Falls and Red Wing with a game that will begin at 4 p.m. on Aug. 5.

As the Hounds rest up, all eight other teams in the Three Rivers will be battling it out to see who joins Austin in Region 5C.

The Hounds last went to state in 2021 and manager Joe Ciola, who is the father of Alex and Anthony, is hoping to lead the team to another state berth in what is his fifth summer running the team.

“The experience we have is great, but the culture we have built is even better,” Ciola said. “We have a team that wants to be together and play baseball. We just have to keep that same energy that we had all season long.”

The Hounds will see plenty of familiar teams in Regionals, but that does not mean the games will be predictable.

“There are always surprises in the tournament and with it going from weekend to weekend, we know we’re going to see the other team’s best players,” Ciola said.

Besides the core of the team, the Hounds have some veterans who have all played amateur baseball for over a decade. That group includes Joe Huffman, Mark Harber and Dan Swift.