The Austin 18U baseball team, the top seed in the Southern Minny League playoffs hosted No. 4 seed Mankato East in the league semi-finals Wednesday evening at Marcusen Park, and Austin erupted for eight runs in the bottom of the second inning on their way to an 8-4 win and a date with Rochester Mayo in the championship game Friday evening.
Austin sent 12 men to the plate and belted out six of their seven hits in the game in the huge inning, the biggest being a two-out, three-run double off the bat of Dawson Mills, who had also singled earlier in the inning. East tried to fight their way back in the top of the fifth when they used four hits to score two runs to cut the Austin lead to 8-2. East wound up loading the bases with one out, but a force out at home off of an infield grounder and a diving catch in left field by Nick Dunlap prevented East from doing any more damage.
East halved the Austin lead an inning later at 8-4, but Cole Walter came on in relief of starter Zach Bollingberg on the mound and shut the door the rest of the way.
Bollingberg was credited with the win on the mound as he pitched the first 5 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs on 11 hits, striking out two and walking one. Walter went the last 1 2/3 innings and held East scoreless, striking out one and walking one batter.
Bollingberg was 2 for 4 at the plate for Austin with a RBI and a run scored, Mills wound up going 2 for 3 with the three RBI double and a run scored, Tony Ciola and Tanner Murphy were both 1 for 4 with a RBI and a run scored, Jed Nelson was 1 for 3 with a run knocked in and a run scored, Andrew Schumacher picked up a RBI, stole a base and scored a run, Nick Dunlap drew a walk, was hit by a pitch, stole two bases and scored a run, and Cole Walter and Ian Bundy both also scored runs in the game for Austin, who will play Rochester Mayo in the Southern Minny League championship game at Marcusen Park at 6:30 p.m. Friday night. Mayo, who is the No. 2 seed upended three-seeded Owatonna Wednesday night 6-1.