Austin Packers baseball team edged by Mankato West 2-1 Saturday afternoon

In a game you heard Saturday afternoon on AM 1480 KAUS, the Austin Packers baseball team was looking to get back on the winning track at Marcusen Park against a formidable opponent in the personage of the Mankato West Scarlets, a club vying for the Big 9 Conference title and ranked No. 3 in the state in the last Class AAA poll, and in a well-played game on both sides, two runs for the Scarlets in the top of the fourth inning would prove to be just enough in a 2-1 win.

Austin pitcher Isaac Osgood and Mankato West starter Mason Durose settled into a pitcher’s duel from the start, as Scarlets leadoff hitter Charlie Hudrlik singled to start the game and stole both second and third base, but he was stranded there as after Osgood issued a two-out walk to Durose, pinch runner Ben O’Neil was thrown out by Packer catcher Dakota Retterath trying to steal second base to end the inning.   Austin countered in the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back one out singles from Cooper Jacobson and Peyton Ransom, but Durose proceeded to induce a popup to shortstop and a fielder’s choice to get out of the inning unscathed.

Both pitchers then really settled in, as Osgood proceeded to retire six straight batters he faced in the second and third innings, and after Peyton Ransom reached on an error with two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Durose then retired the next 10 Packers he faced in a row.  The Scarlets offense, which is averaging just over six runs a game broke through in the top of the fourth, however, as No. 2 hitter Derek Stierlen reached via a bad-hop single into right field.  He then stole second and scored when shortstop Wilson Magers followed with an RBI triple to right centerfield to make the score 1-0, and Magers then scored when Durose lofted a sacrifice fly to centerfield to give West a 2-0 lead.  The Packers broke the string of 10 straight batters retired by Durose in the bottom of the seventh inning when Ethan Anderson led off the inning with a double to left-center.  After Scarlet first baseman Derek Stierlen made a sparkling defensive play on a wicked one-hopper off the bat of Isaiah Conway for the first out, Anderson advanced to third on the play and then scored one batter later when Noah Dunlap drilled a slicing liner to centerfield that was stabbed by Talay Sartell with a diving catch to cut the Scarlets lead to 2-1.  The Packers were then looking to start another rally with two outs, but Durose then got a strikeout looking to end the game.

Offensively for Austin in the game, Ethan Anderson wound up going 1 for 3 with his double and a run scored, Hayden Quitmeyer, Cooper Jacobson and Peyton Ransom were all 1 for 3, and Noath Dunlap knocked in the only run of the game for the Packers with his sacrifice lineout in the bottom of the seventh.  Isaac Osgood took the hard-luck loss on the mound as he held the heavy-hitting Scarlets to two runs, both earned, on four hits, striking out four and walking three, while Durose picked up the win for West in giving up one run, which was earned, on four hits, striking out three and walking none in seven innings of work.

With the loss, Austn is now 8-11 on the season, and the Packers wind up the regular season in Albert Lea versus the Tigers on Tuesday, with first pitch at 5 p.m.  The Packers will then learn Wednesday where they will be playing in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals, which get underway next Saturday, May 25th.