18th Ranked Augie Splits Thrilling Doubleheader With St. Cloud State
Vikings Drop First Game 4-2, Walkoff Second 2-1
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The No. 18-ranked Augustana baseball team earned a series win over the St. Cloud State Huskies Sunday afternoon with its game three victory, after dropping the first game of the doubleheader. The low-scoring, windy contests resulted in a 4-2 win for the Huskies, followed by a 2-1 win for the Vikings. Both contents were seven inning games.
Sophomore righty Ryan Jares got the start for the Vikings in game one and was stellar. Jares went seven innings, struck out seven, allowed just six hits and one earned run. The sophomore’s only runs allowed came on a two-run homer from St. Cloud’s Jake Shusterich.
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth of the seven-inning affair, Augustana tied the game with some small ball. Senior outfielder Riley Johnson led the inning off with a bunt single and moved to second after junior infielder Jordan Barth reached first base on a throwing error. After junior outfielder Jaxon Rosencranz got hit by a pitch, the Vikings had the bases loaded with no outs.
Junior catcher Will Olson then pushed across the first run of the day with a sacrifice fly to right field. After a failed pickoff attempt of Barth on third base went into foul territory, the Vikings evened the score 2-2. With two outs and a runner on second, senior Christian Kuzemka roped a ball into the left field corner that looked to be the go-ahead RBI double, however, Paul Steffensen of St. Cloud State made a miraculous diving catch to keep the score tied.
In extra innings, the Huskies plated two runs in the top of the eighth before holding the Vikings in the bottom of the frame to clinch the 4-2 victory.
Offensively, Augustana notched just four hits in the game: two from senior shortstop Sam Baier, one from Johnson and one from Barth to extend his hitting streak to 19 games.
In another low-scoring affair, the Vikings received another stellar start on the mound, this time from senior NSIC Preseason Pitcher of the Year Max Steffens. Steffens went 6.1 innings and allowed just one run on six hits while tallying five strikeouts.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, the Vikings mounted another late comeback. Junior infielder JT Mix started the frame off by legging out an infield single. Sophomore outfielder Carter Howell followed with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt to move Mix to second. Johnson then rifled a single to right field to tie the game up 1-1.
Barth followed Johnson with a frozen rope through the left side of the infield to extend his hitting-streak to 20 games. Barth and Johnson then stole second and third base, respectively, to set the Vikings up with two runners in scoring position.
After a fielder’s choice moved Barth to third base, the Vikings took a 2-1 lead with Barch scoring on a Huskies wild pitch.
In the top of the seventh, Steffens earned a strikeout for the first out of the inning, before handing the ball off to junior southpaw Jed Schmidt. Schmidt induced a ground ball for the second out of the inning and handed the ball off to senior righty Parker Hanson. Hanson only needed one pitch to record the final out, earn the save and clinch the come-from-behind and series victory for the Vikings.
Augustana tallied five hits in the seven inning game, two from Howell and one apiece from Johnson, Barth and Mix.
The series victory moves the Vikings to 6-1 on the season and 2-1 in conference play. The Huskies fall to 3-5 and 1-2 in league play.
Augustana is back at home for a doubleheader Wednesday against the Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.
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