SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – No. 2 Augustana baseball pushed its winning streak to five with a 7-5 win over No. 3 St. Cloud State in the second round of the NSIC/US Bank Baseball Tournament on Thursday. The Vikings improved their record 38-14, tying a school record set last season, while the Huskies fell to 36-13 on the year.
Alex Fink and Jack Goihl's back-to-back homeruns to right field in the bottom of the seventh turned out to be the game changer that Augustana was looking for, giving them a 7-5 lead that the Vikings would never relinquish the rest of the way.
Fink's two-out two-run blast was his fourth homer on the season, part of a 2-for-4 day at the plate.
Goihl also turned in a two-hit day, capped off by his 10th bomb on the season.
Tony Viger picked up his second save of the year, coming in a closer role on the mound in the final two innings to help secure the victory for Augustana.
Derek Quame (2-2) notched his second win of 2014 after relieving starter Tyson Gau in the top of the seventh. Quame pitched just 0.1 innings but got the Vikings out of a jam to end the inning.
Marcus O'Neill turned in a perfect 3-for-3 performance at bat that also included two RBI and three runs scored for the junior centerfielder.
The Huskies jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after Mike Jurgella's sac fly to center field scored Eric Loxtercamp from third base.
The Vikings responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the first, capped off by Goihl scoring on an error by the St. Cloud State infield to take a 2-1 lead in the ballgame.
Augustana was again the beneficiaries of sloppy play in the field by the SCSU, resulting in O'Neill scoring from first on two throwing errors by the Huskies to push the Viking lead to three at 4-1 in the bottom of the third inning.
A Garrett Fischer single to center field that scored Loxtercamp cut the Augustana lead to two at 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning. It was Fischer's second hit on the day for St. Cloud State.
The Huskies regained the lead in the top of the seventh with a three-run inning at the plate. St. Cloud State scored its three runs on two hits, highlighted by Jurgella's two-RBI single to right field with two outs.
Augustana answered the big inning by SCSU with one of their own in the bottom half of the inning with clutch hitting by both Fink and Goihl. With two outs, the duo went back to back with homeruns to right field to make it 7-5 Vikings. It was the key moment of an intense game between the teams on Thursday afternoon.
Viger closed this one out in the top of the ninth inning by getting the Huskies to hit a ground out to second base for the third and final out and giving Augustana the victory.
The Vikings will play Wayne State on Friday at 12 p.m. at Karras Park Home of Ronken Field.
Courtesy: Augustana Chris Smith