April 22, 2008 - BOLOGNA, Italy - Former Rockford RiverHawk Rich Austin opened the season with two hits in a three-game series in Italy's professional league.
Austin was hitless in the season opener last Friday as his Fortitudo Bologna team was shut out, 6-0, by visiting T&A San Marino. Austin had a hit each of the next two games, 4-0 and 3-2 Bologna wins.
Austin, who has hit cleanup and played center field in each game, is 2-for-11 with a RBI in Serie A1, the Italian professional league.
Austin began his professional career in Springfield in 2001 and moved north the following season as the franchise became the Rockford RiverHawks. Austin was the Frontier League Player of the Year in 2004 as the team won the pennant and he took the batting title. Austin is still the RiverHawks' single-season and career home-run leader.