Austin Packers baseball rallies from deficits of 9-0 and 14-6 to defeat P-E-M 15-14 in wild home opener Saturday

The Austin Packers baseball team played host to defending Section 1AA champion and state-ranked Plainview-Elgin-Millville from the Three Rivers Conference for their long-delayed home opener at windy and sometimes rainy Dick Seltz Field Saturday, and a wild home opener it was as the Packers rallied back from deficits of 9-0 and 14-6 to win 15-14 in nine innings.

The first half of the game belonged to the Bulldogs as they scored four in the first, three in the second, one in the third and one in the fourth to take a 9-0 lead before the Packers offense came alive against left-handed reliever Monty Czapiewski in the bottom of the fifth.  Czapiewski, who came in for left-handed starter Carson Reeve, who had cruised through four innings in only giving up one hit promptly walked Sam Oelfke and No. 9 hitter Bryce Fischer and the committed an error on a ball tapped back toward the mound by then-shortstop Peyton Ransom to load the bases.  He then walked Lathan Wilson to force in the first Austin run of the game, Isaac Stromlund then reached on a fielder’s choice to score Fischer to make it a 9-2 game, Nick Robertson followed with a RBI single to bring in Ransom with the third Austin run, catcher Dakota Retterath reached on an error to load the bases and Stromlund then scored on a wild pitch to bring the score to 9-4, and sophomores Isaiah Conway and Ethan Anderson belted back-to-back RBI singles to cut the Bulldog lead to 9-6 after five innings.

P-E-M answered back with five runs on three hits in the top of the sixth, including a two-run double from Jameson Brinkman, who wound up going 3 for 4 with a two-run homer, a single, two walks and three runs scored, plus they used two Austin errors, two wild pitches, three walks, a stolen base and a passed ball to push their lead back to eight runs at 14-6, but the Packers refused to fold as they sent 10 men to the plate in the fifth and again in the sixth as Bryce Fischer led off the inning with a double.  With one out, Lathan Wilson drew a walk, Isaac Stromlund followed with a RBI single to score Fischer and halved the Bulldog lead at 14-7.  After a liner to left for the second out, Dakota Retterath singled to score Wilson to make the score 14-8 and went to second on an error in right field, which also sent Stromlund to third.  Cody Blom then followed with a RBI single and Jared Lillemon belted a RBI double to deep left center to bring in two more runs to make the score 14-11.  Sam Oelfke then reached on a two-base throwing error to first by Bulldog third baseman Bo Lamey to score Lillemon to cut P-E-M’s lead to 14-12 after six.

After the Bulldogs were turned away after a leadoff walk in the top of the 7th, Austin rallied yet again against reliever Jason Feils in the bottom half of the inning when, with one out, Lathan Wilson singled, went to second on a walk to Isaac Stromlund and scored when Nick Robertson picked up his second hit of the game, a RBI single to make the score 14-13.  On the play, Stromlund was nipped trying to advance to third base on a close play for the second out, but Dakota Retterath kept the game alive for the Packers with a single, and Cody Blom then followed with another single to score Robertson to tie the game at 14 and send Retterath to third.  Feils sent the game into extra innings by picking up a strikeout for the third out, but Austin had come all the way back to tie the game.

Both teams went out in order in the eighth, but the Bulldogs were turned away in the top of the ninth when, with two outs, Jameson Brinkman singled, but was then thrown out at third base trying to advance there on a single from right fielder Johnny Evers.  Austin’s bottom of the ninth started when Feils hit leadoff hitter Lathan Wilson with a pitch.  Wilson stole second as Stromlund swung and missed for strike three and the first out, but it was Robertson then coming through with his third hit of the game, a soft liner down the left field line that fell in and brought Wilson home to a raucous scene at the plate as the Packers celebrated a wild, come-from-behind win.

Robertson wound up going 3 for 4 with three runs knocked in and two runs scored, Peyton Ransom was 1 for 6 with a single and a run scored, Lathan Wilson was 1 for 2 for the game and drew three walks and scored three runs, including the game-winner, Isaac Stromlund was 1 for 3 with two RBI’s and two runs scored, Dakota Retterath went 2 for 4 with two singles and two runs scored, Isaiah Conway was 1 for 2 with a RBI single, Cody Blom was 2 for 2 for the Packers with two RBI’s and a run scored, Jared Lillemon wound up going 1 for 3 with a RBI double and a run scored, Ethan Anderson was 1 for 2 with a RBI single, and Bryce Fischer wound up going 1 for 4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored.  Peyton Ransom, who was the sixth pitcher used in the game by Head Coach Jacob Nelson picked up the win by pitching two innings of scoreless relief, giving up no runs on two hits, striking out one and walking none.

With the win, Austin is now 2-2 on the season, and the Packers are slated to return to action Monday afternoon in New Prague in a non-conference game with the Trojans, with first pitch scheduled for 4:30 p.m.