The Austin Greyhounds played host to the Winona Chiefs in a Twin Rivers League matchup at Marcusen Park Saturday evening in a make-up game from earlier in the season due to rain, and ‘Hounds first baseman Josh Molina used a two-RBI double, a ground out, a sacrifice fly, a two-RBI single and a solo homer to knock in a total of seven runs to help lead Austin to a 20-9, 7-inning win.
After starting pitcher Mark Harber stranded two runners on base in the top of the first, the Greyhounds jumped out to a 2-0 lead when leadoff hitter Alex Ciola singled for one of Austin’s 16 hits in the game, Harber drew a two-out walk and, with new Greyhound Harrison Hanna in to courtesy run, Molina plated both runners with a two-RBI double.
Austin’s lead ballooned to 7-0 after two innings when they sent 10 men to the plate, staring with Sam Nelsen and Andrew Schumacher both hitting singles to start the inning, Schumacher stole second and second baseman Yamil Ocasio Morales belted a two-RBI single for a 4-0 lead. Alex Ciola was then hit by a pitch, catcher Nestor Jiminez reached on a Winona error to load the bases and Harber drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run for a 5-0 Austin lead. A RBI ground out from Molina increased the Hounds’ lead to 6-0, and a two-out, RBI single from shortstop Tony Ciola gave Austin a 7-0 lead.
The Chiefs tallied two runs in the top of the third to cut the Greyhounds lead to 7-2, but Austin came back with four runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to take an 11-2 lead. Andrew Schumacher reached on a bunt single, stole second, and Austin then loaded the bases when Alex Ciola was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game and third baseman Zach Bollingberg walked. Jiminez then belted a two-RBI single, Harber followed with a RBI single and Molina was then robbed of an extra-base hit when he belted a drive to deep right-center, only to see Winona centerfielder Ike Marley make a fantastic diving catch. The sacrifice fly did bring in a run, however, and Austin led 11-2 heading into the fourth inning.
Winona scored a single run in the top of the fourth for a 11-3 score, but the Greyhounds bats again came alive in the bottom half of the inning when Morales advanced to second on a pair of Chiefs errors. The bases were then filled when Jiminez was hit by a pitch and Harber walked, and Morales then scored when Bollingberg reached on an error. With two outs, the ‘Hounds picked up yet another clutch base hit when Molina provided a two-RBI single to increase Austin’s lead to 14-3.
Winona would not go quietly into the beautiful Saturday night, however, as they had at least one hit in every inning but the seventh, and they used five hits to score six runs in the top of the fifth to cut Austin’s lead to 14-9. Undeterred, the ‘Hounds answered when Nelsen reached on an error to start the inning. Alex Ciola walked and, with two outs, Bollingberg belted a two-RBI double to make the score 16-9. Jiminez then followed with a RBI single to score Bollingberg to make the score 17-9 Greyhounds at the end of five innings.
After holding the Chiefs scoreless in top of the sixth, the ‘Hounds added three more runs, the first courtesy of a leadoff solo homer off the bat of Molina over the right field fence for an 18-9 lead. With one out, Nelsen walked and Schumacher singled, follwed by a RBI single from second baseman Jordan Ransom and Schumacher later scoring on a wild pitch to make the score 20-9. Reliever Harrison Hanna then induced a 4-6-3 double play in the top of the seventh to help retire the Chiefs and end the game via the 10-run rule.
Harber was credited with the win on the mound for Austin, as he pitched the first 3 2/3rds of an inning and gave up three runs, all earned, on eight hits, striking out one and walking two. Hanna wound up pitching the remaining 4 and 1/3rds and gave up six runs, all earned, on six hits, striking out one and walking two.
With the win, Austin is now 9-4 overall on the season, and the ‘Hounds are right back into action today (Sunday) versus Owatonna in the Twin Rivers League, with first pitch at 1:00 p.m.