Here come the boys of summer

Historical Marcusen Park represents a fun place to watch a baseball game with several chances during the summer for baseball fans to see their favorite team. Eric Johnson/Austin Living

Historical Marcusen Park represents a fun place to watch a baseball game with several chances during the summer for baseball fans to see their favorite team. Eric Johnson/Austin Living

The boys of summer are coming back, and there’s plenty of amateur baseball to be played in the area.

The Austin Greyhounds and Austin Blue Sox will hunker down in Marcusen Park starting this week, and the Hayfield Heat will play at Hayfield High School.

Austin Blue Sox pitcher Lukas Anderson delivers in the first inning against Owatonna last year at Marcusen Park. Herald file photo

Austin Blue Sox pitcher Lukas Anderson delivers in the first inning against Owatonna last year at Marcusen Park. Herald file photo

The highlight of the summer for the Hounds and Blue Sox will be the SpamTown Challenge, which runs June 25 through June 28 at Marcusen. The Challenge is in its 11th year and brings quality teams from all around Minnesota and beyond.

The Hounds were much made up of entirely older players, but this year they take another step towards being younger. The team added Austin grads Steven Clennon and Ethan Horstmann to the roster, and the squad brings back Austin grad Gabe Kasak and Albert Lea grad Henry Fleek.

Matt Cano will remain an integral part of the Hounds, but long-time Hounds manager John Frein will not be as present as he has been in years past.

Austin added former Rochester pitcher Chad Weisner to add a veteran presence, and the team will also have Nik Gasner, Dylan Gasner and Daniel Bollingberg in tow.

Tah.02.31.bhe Hounds made it to the Class B state tournament last summer, and their season came to an end on a 4-1 loss to Burnsville. This year, they’re hoping to get back to the state tournament.

“The goal is always to get to state first and then do some damage in state,” Frein said. “We’ve got some new young blood coming in. We pushed things back with the schedule this year to give some of our younger guys a little more time to get ready.”

The Hounds pitching staff will be very similar to years past as veterans Weston Hansen, Joe Huffman, Nels Nelson, Alex Kasak and Grant Oldenburg will fill out the rotation.

The Austin Blue Sox advanced to the Class B state amateur baseball tournament last summer, but they lost 3-0 to Cold Spring in the first round.

The Blue Sox will bring back some familiar faces this seasonal. The team will look to Southland grads Lukas Anderson and Brian Voigt to step up as well as Cody Meyer, Mark Harber, Marcus Stoulil and Preston Higbe.

In Hayfield, the Heat continue to provide a chance for local players to continue their baseball careers after they finish up in the high school and college ranks.

“A lot of guys look forward to playing when they come back in the summer, and we look forward to high school kids playing for the Heat in the future,” said Hayfield manager Kasey Krekling.

Krekling, who is the head baseball coach at Hayfield, has plenty of former Vikings on his roster. The team will look to Hayfield grads Tyler Krekling, Travis Kauffman, Cole Kruger and Drew Streightiff to lead the way.

The Austin Greyhounds’ Andy Swank holds on a pitch against the Blue Sox last season at Marcusen Park. Herald file photo

The Austin Greyhounds’ Andy Swank holds on a pitch against the Blue Sox last season at Marcusen Park. Herald file photo

Hayfield will also look to Sam Hinsch and Charlie Hinsch of Rochester and Nick Thompson and Ryan Thompson of Byron to chip in.

Kasey, who will provide some pitching depth for the Heat, said he’s hoping to make it a good summer.

“We always look to be competitive. We’re hoping to be above .500 and make a playoffs and then make a run,” Kasey said.

The Hounds will open their season at home 2 p.m. today against Minneapolis Baseball 365, and they will host the Blue Earth Pirates at 7:30 p.m. June 3. The Blue Sox open their season at Stewartville/Racine at 7:30 p.m. June 3, and they will host the Owatonna Crawdads at 7:30 p.m. June 5.

Besides the amateur baseball teams, the Austin Post 91 Legion and Austin VFW Post 1216 baseball teams will play full schedules this summer, and each will host one tournament.

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