Stunning Augustana rally comes to stunning end in Mankato’s Super Region Game One win

Vikings score four in ninth but tying run is overturned on contested interference call to preserve Mavericks 5-4 victory
Vikings fall 5-4
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 11:58 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Augustana baseball team had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, trailing by a run, but ultimately fell 5-4 in the opening game of the NCAA Division Central Super Regional in front of the largest crowd in Ronken Field history with 723 fans in attendance.

With Ragan Pinnow at-bat, the freshman worked a 3-2 count with the bases loaded. On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, much to the dismay of Augustana fans, Pinnow was ruled to have leaned across the plate to get hit by a pitch to end the game. The loss means Augustana must win both contests on Saturday to advance to the NCAA Division II Championship Site in Cary, North Carolina.

The Mavericks strung together two runs in the opening frame as Mikey Gottschalk singled into right field to score Jackson Hauge. The next batter, Adam Weed, then singled to center field to score Ryan Wickman.

Augustana threatened in the bottom of the second with runners on second and third with one out but was unable to scratch a run over home plate.

Minnesota State added a run in the fourth inning on a groundout. Matt Fleischhacker hit a chopper to Jack Hines at short, and while Hines was throwing him out at first base, Nick Baker took off from third for the run.

The Mavericks added two more runs in the eighth inning with Fleischhacker again earning the RBI with a two-run single.

In the bottom of the ninth, Spencer Marenco got the offense turning for AU with a single through the right side. Luke Ballweg, who was pinch-hitting, then singled through the right side to place runners on first and third with one out.

Marenco was sent home thanks to a Trevor Winterstein double to right-center. Turning the lineup to the top of the order, Jack Hines pounded a two-run double to score Ballweg and Winterstein to make it a 5-3 ballgame with just the one out.

The contest turned into a one-run game as Nick Banowetz singled sharply up the middle to score Hines and force a pitching change for Minnesota State.

Now with two outs, Banowetz scooted to second base on a wild pitch, and an intentional walk gave Drey Dirksen first base, still with two outs.

Tate Meiners came to the place and drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases and set up for the dramatic ending. That ending concluded with the strikeout looking of Pinnow.

The Vikings threw Caleb Saari for 6.2 innings while the junior gave up three runs while striking out three. Caleb Kranz came on in relief for 21 innings, striking out five while giving up two runs.

Augustana, 45-19 on the season, recorded 11 hits in the game with two each from Banowetz and Pinnow. Minnesota State, 43-16 on the year, totaling 10 hits with Wickman and Gottschalk each totaled two hits.

The two squads return for game two at 1 p.m. on Saturday. With a single win by Minnesota State, the Maverick advance while Augustana must win two games.