The Augustana baseball team’s magical season adds another chapter by defeating Central Missouri (39-16), 9-6, on Saturday night in Magnolia, Ark. With the victory, the Vikings will play for the Central Region Championship on Monday, May 21 at 12 p.m.
The Vikings move to 47-8 on the season and are 3-0 in the Central Region tournament as the fifth seed and the lowest seed remaining, even with eight more wins than the next closest team. Entering the Regional, the Vikings had one win in their two previous NCAA tournament appearances and are now on the verge of extending their season another week.
Austin Orvis (4-0) earned the win in relief for the Vikings after tossing one inning allowing one run (unearned) on two hits with one strikeout. Zach Reeg picked up his fourth save of the season and kept his earn at 0.00 after throwing two inning of hitless ball with one strikeout. David Flattery earned a no-decision in his start on Saturday after going five innings allowing two runs on five hits with four walks and six strikeouts.
At the plate, the bottom third of the order carried the Vikings. Lucas Barry, Ryan Menssen and JT Mix each at two hits and a RBI apiece. Every Viking reached base and Riley Johnson and Ryan Nickel each scored twice.
The Vikings struck first with a Sam Baier sacrifice fly to score Johnson in the first. Central Missouri would answer in the second with a one-out RBI double from Harrison Schnurbusch. The Mules would take a lead in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Mason Janvrin.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Vikings would capitalize on a some Mule miscues to take a 3-2 lead. Augustana loaded the bases with a single, a Mule error on a sac bunt attempt and a hit by pitch with no outs. The Vikings tied the game with Jordan Barth scoring on a double play. Ryan Nickel would score on a Mule wild pitch to give the Vikings a 3-2 lead.
The Mules would use a big seventh to retake the lead. Central Missouri scored four runs in the frame with a two-RBI single from Justin Graff-Rowe and scored two more unearned runs to take a 6-3 lead.
The Vikings would answer with their own four-run seventh to take back the lead. Barry and Menssen started the inning off with a pair of singles and Barry would score on a Mix double to right center. Johnson would knock in Menssen. The Mules would try and pickoff Johnson, but threw the ball into the outfield and Mix scored the tying run. Johnson would score on a wild pitch two batters later to give the Vikings a 7-6 lead.
Augustana added a pair of runs in the eighth. Barry hammered a RBI triple to right field and Barry would score on a Menssen single up the middle, giving the Vikings the 9-6 win.
The Vikings will have Sunday off and will play for the Central Region title on Monday at 12 p.m. No. 1 Southern Arkansas and No. 3 Central Oklahoma will play an elimination game at 12 p.m. on Sunday and the winner will play take on No. 2 Central Missouri at 3:30 p.m. for the right to play the Vikings on Monday.