MAGNOLIA, Ark. - The magical season continues for Augustana Baseball (48-9) as the stake claim to the Central Region title and a spot in the NCAA Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C. The Vikings had to play two against Southern Arkansas (41-19), but won when it counted, defeating the Muleriders in game two in Magnolia, Ark., 6-3.
This marks Augustana baseball’s first Central Region Championship and its first trip to the Division II College World Series in school history. In its previous two NCAA tournament appearances Augustana had been 1-4, but this tournament they have gone 4-1.
The fifth seeded Vikings fell in game one to the top seeded Muleriders, 5-3, to force a winner-take-all game two in Magnolia. The Vikings used a four-run second inning in game two to take down the host school Southern Arkansas and make history. The Muleriders had lost their opening game to eighth seeded Emporia State, but reeled off five straight elimination game victories before succumbing to the Vikings on Monday.
GAME TWO: Augustana 6, Southern Arkansas 3
Augustana scored a run in the first and four in the second to jump on the Muleriders early and never looked back. The Vikings got solid pitching performances from Clay Collision, Dalton Allen and Derek Dahlke to secure the Central Region title.
Allen (6-0) picked up the victory after relieving Collison in the fifth. Allen threw two hitless innings allowing two walks, while striking out three. Dahlke earned his second save of the year by finishing the final three innings for the Vikings, allowing two runs on three hits with one strikeout. Collison got the start for Augustana, going four innings allowing one run on three hits with three strikeouts.
Offensively, the seven of the Vikings eight hits in game two came from their top-three batters in the order. Sam Baier collected three hits and three RBI, while Riley Johnson and Michael Svozil had two hits apiece. Johnson scored three times and Svozil recorded two RBI.
The Vikings showed now hangover at the plate to start game two as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first. Augustana opened with three straight hits with singles by Johnson and Svozil and a RBI double from Baier. The Muleriders would tie the game up with a run of their own in the first on a two-out RBI single from Cortland McPherson.
The Vikings would add to their run total and retake the lead in the second. Ryan Menssen led the inning off with a double to left center and was followed by walks by JT Mix and Johnson. Svozil would chase the GAC Pitcher of the Year, Hunter Vasquez, with a two-RBI double down the left field line with no outs in the second. Baier would welcome the new Mulrider pitcher with a RBI single up the middle and Jordan Barth would follow with a RBI groundout.
Baier added another RBI on a single up the middle in the seventh, to give Augustana a 6-1 advantage. The Muleriders would add runs in the eighth and ninth, but the Vikings would prevail, 6-3.
GAME ONE: Southern Arkansas 5, Augustana 3
The Muleriders scored the final four runs of the game to force a winner-take-all Central Region Championship against the Vikings.
The Vikings got on the board first with a pair of runs in the third inning. JT Mix recorded a one-out double and would scored on a Michael Svozil single for the first run of the game. Sam Baier would lay down a safety squeeze to score Riley Johnson for the Vikings second run on the inning. The Muleriders got a run back in the fourth on a home run from Sam Mrstik to lead off the inning.
The Vikings would stretch their lead back to two in the bottom of the fourth on a Ryan Menssen RBI groundout, scoring Ryan Nickel. The Muleriders came within one again with a RBI single in the seventh.
The Muleriders gained their first lead of the game in the eighth inning, tagging Zach Reeg for his first runs allowed on the season. Jason Richardson tied the contest up with a RBI double to left center and Cortland McPherson gave the Muleriders a 5-3 lead with a two-run home run.
Reeg (2-1) took the loss after tying a career-best with 2.1 innings pitched, allowing three runs on two hits with three strikeouts. Pitching on three days rest, Tyler Mitzel gave the Vikings everything they could have asked for. Mitzel went 6.2 innings allowing two runs on seven hits with a career-high tying eight punchouts in the no-decision.
Nickel and Lucas Wylie led the Vikings offensively with two hits, including a double apiece. Svozil, Baier and Menssen each knocked in a RBI.
College World Series
The Vikings will move onto the NCAA Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C. on May 26-June 2. There will still be regional action wrapping up Tuesday, May 22, so the Vikings won’t know the bracket until at least later Tuesday.
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