Former RiverHawks to meet in Northern League finals
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September 11, 2006 - Former RiverHawks Jason Shelley and Rich Austin will be in opposing dugouts when the Northern League finals begin this week.

Shelley, who played for Rockford in 2002 and 2003, is East Division champion Gary's pitching ace. Austin, who played with the franchise in its final year in Springfield, 2001, and played the first three years it was in Rockford, is a two-time Northern League all-star with West champ Fargo-Moorhead. The series begins Tuesday at Gary.

Each former RiverHawk's current team won its playoff game last night. Gary shut out Schaumburg, 7-0, as the RailCats won the series, three games to two. Fargo beat Winnipeg, 3-2, as the RedHawks took Game 5. Austin, a career outfielder, played first base and was 2-for-4.

Shelley was 12-8, second in the league in wins, with a 3.75 ERA. He struck out 145, tops in the Northern League and Shelley's best total since he set a Frontier League record with 156 strikeouts in 2002. Shelley was named Baseball America magazine's Independent League Player of the Year in 2003, when he set the FL earned-run average record and was signed by Milwaukee at midseason.

This year, Austin hit .296 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI, third in the Northern League. He was voted Frontier League MVP at the end of the RiverHawks' championship season in 2004.


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