WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AUGUSTANA)– Augustana baseball bested the Ouachita Baptist Tigers 12-7 on Friday to advance to the NCAA Central Region Tournament championship game.
Ryan Jares started on the hill for Augustana and tossed 6.1 innings to earn the victory. Jares struck out six batters. With his fourth strikeout of the game in the fourth inning, Jares became the single season strikeout leader with his 105th of the season. Tanner Brown previously broke the record with his 104th strikeout in 2022 against Minnesota State on Thursday. Seth Miller earned the save after coming on in the ninth inning with the bases loaded. He got three swinging strikeouts to send the Vikings to the Pod Championship.
Ouachita Baptist was the first team to score after hitting back-to-back home runs in the top of the first inning. The Vikings then cut the lead in half in the bottom half of the inning as Jordan Barth hit a solo home run.
Augustana took the lead shortly after in the second inning when Luke Ballweg hit a triple deep to right center that took a bounce off the wall to score JT Mix and Jaxon Rosencranz. Mix reached base with a single to center field and Rosencranz singled up the middle to get on base.
The lead wouldn’t last long as another home run by the Tigers scored two runs and OBU led 4-3.
In the fourth inning, Augustana took full control of the game, scoring five runs to take a solid lead. A hard hit home run by Luke Ballweg plated Mix and Rosencranz for the second time in the game. A back-to-back homer was hit by Drey Dirksen and AU led 7-4. The last run of the inning was added by Carter Howell after a single from Jordan Barth.
Will Olson pushed Augustana’s lead to 10-4 after going yard and scoring Jordan Barth. Rosencranz plated Jack Hines with a triple to add one more run to AU’s total.
Dirksen knocked his second home run of the game, also his 14th of the season, in the seventh inning and the Vikings led by six runs.
Ouachita Baptist scored three more runs in the top of the eighth inning, cutting AU’s lead to five runs.
After the Tigers tried mounting a comeback in the top of the ninth, Miller entered with the bases loaded. He calmly got his first batter to strike out on a breaking ball. He then forced a weak swinging strikeout for the inning’s second out. The final out was also via a swinging strikeout to send the Vikings on in the winner’s bracket.
Hines led the lineup with three hits and Ballweg led with five RBI. Eight Vikings logged a hit in the victory.
The Vikings will face the winner of the No.1 Central Missouri/No. 8 Ouachita Baptist game scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday. Augustana’s next game is slated for 6 p.m. on Saturday. Stay tuned to @AugieBaseball social media channels for updates as weather may have different plans for game times.