In a game you heard from Hayek Field in Albert Lea on AM 1480 KAUS, the Austin Packers baseball team renewed their I-90 rivalry with the Albert Lea Tigers Thursday afternoon, and in a game that Austin controlled most of the way, the Tigers were able to rally with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning via a walk and a hit batsman, both with the bases loaded to win in walk-off fashion 7-6.
Austin jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Peyton Ransom lined the first pitch of the game from Albert Lea starter Jacob Skiness into center field for a base hit. Nick Robertson then doubled off the right field fence, sending Ransom to third, and he then scored on an RBI single from designated hitter Dakota Retterath. Robertson went to third on the base hit, and he then scored on a sacrifice fly to left field off the bat of right fielder Isaac Stromlund.
Albert Lea used a single, an error, a passed ball and a grounder to first to plate a run in the bottom half of the inning, but the Packers increased their lead to 4-1 in the top of the fourth inning when Retterath led off with a double to deep center. With one out, second baseman Ethan Anderson drew a walk, and both runners moved up 90 feet on a passed ball. With two outs, catcher Sam Winkels hit a slow bouncer to Tiger shortstop Logan Davis, and his throw to first was not in time to get Winkels, with Retterath scoring from third and Anderson not stopping coming around third to slide in safely at the plate for a 4-1 Austin lead.
Albert Lea countered with a big two-out hit of their own in the bottom half of the inning when No. 8 hitter Mike Olson laced a two-RBI single to right field to cut the Packer lead to 4-3, but Austin countered with a run of their own in the top of the fifth when, with one out, Peyton Ransom was hit by a pitch, and he later scored on an RBI single from Dakota Retterath to make the score 5-3. As would prove to be the case the entire game, the Tigers would answer again, this time in bottom of the fifth on a one-out sacrifice fly from cleanup hitter Hank Kuiters, and a two-out RBI single from right fielder Ben Kuiters to knot the game at 5-5.
The Packers took the lead back in the top of the sixth when leadoff hitter Sam Oelfke drew a walk and went to second when the next hitter, Sam Winkels, was hit by a pitch. Oelfke went to third after left fielder Isaiah Conway hit into a fielder’s choice, and he then scored when center fielder Isaac Osgood singled to make the score 6-5. Oelfke, who came on in relief of starter Brayden Bishop in the bottom of the fifth inning got Tiger leadoff hitter Logan Davis to fly out to right to start the bottom of the seventh. Third baseman Dakota Jahnke then picked up his third hit of the game to put the tying run on the bases and the winning run at the plate, but Hank Kuiters hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. The Tigers were not done, however, as Ben Kuiters kept things alive for Albert Lea with a single to center, and Oelfke then hit center fielder Andrew Westeng with a pitch to load the bases. Austin then called on lefthander Isaiah Conway to try to earn a save, but he walked catcher Jaxon Richards and hit Mike Olson with a pitch to give the Tigers a 7-6, walk-off win.
Offensively for Austin, Dakota Retterath led the way at the plate by going 3 for 4 with a double and two RBI’s, Nick Robertson went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored, Isaac Osgood and Isaac Stromlund were both 1 for 3 with an RBI apiece, Sam Winkels went 1 for 2 with two RBI’s, and Peyton Ransom was 1 for 3 with two runs scored. Brayden Bishop went the first 4 and 1/3rd innings for the Packers and gave up five runs, two earned on six hits, striking out four and walking two. Sam Oelfke then pitched 2 and 1/3rds of an inning and gave up two runs, both earned, on four hits, striking out three, walking one and hitting one batter in the loss.
Austin is now 7-8 on the season, and the Packers return to action at Dick Seltz Field Saturday afternoon versus Mankato East in a Big 9 Conference matchup, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. You’ll hear the game live on AM 1480 KAUS, with the pre-game show scheduled to start at 12:50 p.m.