The Austin Packers baseball team was looking to snap a seven-game losing streak at warm, windy and humid Dick Seltz Field Thursday versus I-90 rival Albert Lea, and in a game that featured a delay of approximately a hour due to lightning and rain, Tigers leadoff hitter Brenden Bakken went 4 for 4 with two singles, a triple, a two-run homer, two RBI’s, four runs scored and a walk, and pitcher Jack Skinness retired the last 12 Austin batters he faced in a complete game on the mound as the Tigers blanked the Packers 9-0.
Albert Lea struck for four unearned runs in the top of the 1st to take a quick 4-0 lead, and Bakken’s two-run homer over the fence in left-center field in the top of the second increased the Tiger lead to 6-0. The game was delayed in the top of the third by lightning and rain soon afterward, but the delay did not slow the Tigers as when the game resumed, they tallied a single run in the top of the fourth and two more in the sixth on their way to the win.
Austin was led offensively by leadoff hitter Jared Lillemon who went 2 for 3 with two singles, R. J. Wiesler, Dakota Retterath and Isaac Stromlund were all 1 for 3 with singles and Jordan Ransom was 1 for 2 with a single. The Packers had a runner or runners in scoring position in the first four innings, but Skinness was able to pitch Albert Lea out of trouble, and after Wiesler singled to start the bottom of the fourth, he was eventually stranded at second as Skinness went on to retire the next twelve batters in a row for the win, giving up six hits, striking out five and walking none.
With the loss, the Packers are now 4-12 overall on the season and 3-9 in the Big 9 Conference. Austin will kick off a busy last stretch of the regular season at home Saturday versus Hayfield, the No. 1 ranked team in the state in Class A Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. before taking on Red Wing in a Big 9 Conference doubleheader Monday at Dick Seltz Field, with the first game getting underway at 4:00 p.m. Austin is then scheduled to travel to New Prague next Wednesday for a makeup game from earlier in the season against the Trojans to wind up the regular season, with first pitch scheduled for 5:00 p.m. that day.