WARRENSBURG, Mo. (AUGUSTANA) — Some late-inning heroics and a ninth-inning comeback weren’t enough for the Augustana baseball team as it fell to Henderson State 8-7 Saturday afternoon in its second game of the NCAA Central Regional Tournament. The Vikings finished their season with a 36-13 record.
Junior southpaw Tanner Brown got the start on the mound for the Vikings and went six innings, allowing three earned runs while striking out four. After Brown, freshman righty Caleb Kranz took the hill and pitched four innings of two-run ball including a scoreless frame in the top of the tenth.
The Reddies struck first in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly. After a quiet second and third innings, Augustana tied the game in the top of the fourth. With two outs, senior outfielder Riley Johnson singled, stole second base and came around to score on a double off the bat of senior shortstop Sam Baier.
Tied 1-1, Henderson State took the lead with runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings. Down 4-1, the Vikings came to the plate in the top of the eighth, down to their last six outs and rallied.
Sophomore outfielder Carter Howell started the frame with a laser solo homer to bring the score to 4-2. After a ground out and a fly out, the Vikings started another two-out rally.
Junior outfielder Jaxon Rosencranz singled to right and was followed by a Johnson single and Baier walk to load the bases. That brought junior infielder Jordan Barth to the plate who delivered a clutch two-run single up the middle to tie the ballgame at 4-4.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Henderson State took the lead once more, giving the Reddies a 5-4 lead while standing three outs away from victory.
Augustana, however, rallied once more in the top of the ninth. Junior infielder JT Mix started the inning with a single, stole second base and then moved to third on a wild pitch. Howell followed with a walk and after a walk from junior catcher Will Olson and a couple of outs, Johnson came to the plate, down one run with two outs and the bases loaded.
The senior all-time hit leader at Augustana ran the count full and stayed patient, taking ball four off the plate and tying the game at 5-5.
The seesaw battle moved to the eleventh inning after both squads failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities in the 10th inning.
With one out in the 11th, Johnson singled to center field to start things off. That brought Baier to the plate, who singled to right field on an 0-2 count and moved to second on the throw from the outfield, also advancing Johnson to third.
The Reddies proceeded to intentionally walk Barth to load the bases with one out. After a strikeout, Mix stepped up to the plate and delivered a clutch two-run single to left field, giving the Vikings their first lead of the day with a 7-5 score.
The lead, however, didn’t hold as Henderson State saw three runners cross the plate in the bottom of the 11th for the walk-off victory.
At the plate, Mix and Johnson each tallied three hits, Baier, Barth and Howell each had two and Olson, Rosencranz and senior infielder Christian Kuzemka finished with one.