The Austin Packers baseball team, the No. 8 seed in the Section 1AAA tournament traveled to warm and windy Byron Saturday to take on the Bears, the top seed and the No. 3 team in the state in the last Class AAA poll, and although the Packers gave the Bears everything they could handle and then some, a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Byron to a 4-3 win.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the third when the Bears used a one-out single, a hit batsman with two outs, a walk, a RBI single, another hit batsman and an error to plate three runs and take a 3-0 lead, but Austin came battling back in the top of the fourth when, with one out, shortstop Peyton Ransom and rightfielder Issac Stromlund both singled, and after a fly ball to left for the second out, second baseman Lathan Wilson belted a RBI single to cut the Bears lead to 3-1.
The Packers kept the pressure on in the top of the fifth when designated hitter R.J. Wiesler walked to start the inning, pitcher Nick Robertson singled and catcher Dakota Retterath hit into a fielder’s choice for the first out that sent Wiesler to third base. Retterath then stole second base and first baseman Jared Lillemon proceeded to slice a two-RBI single down the left field line to tie the game at three apiece. Lillemon was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double by a strike from Bears leftfielder Kaelin Haebert from the leftfield corner, and although Peyton Ransom followed with a single and stole second to move into scoring position, he was caught in a rundown between second and third in bluffing a steal of third base for the third out of the inning.
The game remained tied at three heading into the bottom of the seventh as Austin pitcher Nick Robertson had retired eight batters in a row until a leadoff walk to Bears third baseman Isaiah Brennan. He then stole second base, went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored when catcher Jake Coshnet laced a RBI single to centerfield to give Byron the win.
Robertson led Austin offensively by going 3 for 3 with three singles and a walk, Jared Lillemon went 1 for 3 with his two RBI single, Peyton Ransom was 2 for 2 with two singles and a run scored, Isaac Stromlund was 1 for 3 and Lathan Wilson was 1 for 2 with a RBI single and a walk. Robertson pitched well for the Packers but took the hard-luck loss as he went all seven innings and gave up the four Byron runs, three earned, on seven hits, striking out three, walking three and hitting two batters.
With the loss, Austin is now 4-17 on the season, and the Packers will look to stay alive in the Section 1AAA elimination bracket in Northfield Tuesday versus the No. 5 seeded Raiders, who fell Saturday by a score of 2-1 to fourth-seeded Stewartville. You’ll hear the game on U.S. Country 99.9 FM, with the pre-game show coming your way at 4:45 p.m., and first pitch from Northfield at 5:00 p.m.