CARY, N.C. (AUGUSTANA) – The NSIC and NCAA Central Region Champion Augustana baseball team saw its season come to a close Tuesday against No. 10 Southern New Hampshire at the NCAA Division II College World Series. The sixth-seeded Penmen prevailed with a 10-6 score in Cary, North Carolina.
Augustana concludes its season with a 47-21 record, the second-most wins in program history, while claiming its second-straight NSIC Championship and third in four years. The Vikings advanced to the NCAA Division II Championship site for the second time in program history.
The Penmen greeted the Vikings with a first-inning 415-foot home run as Mike LaRocca went to right field for an early 2-0 lead. Augustana whittled back with a run in the first and a run in the third innings to knot things up at two-all.
Trevor Winterstein worked a six-pitch walk and went to second base on a hit-and-run with Nick Banowetz batting. He was then sent home on a Drey Dirksen single into left field.
In the third inning, Banowetz reached base on a dropped third strike, then went to second base on an errant throw by Southern New Hampshire’s pitcher. A groundout by Parker Mooney moved him to third base. Dirksen then knotted the game at 2-2 with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The tie was broken in the top of the fifth inning as the Penmen pushed three runs across home plate via a home run by Nick Schwart. The Vikings cut into that lead thanks to a 354-foot home run by Dirksen. Mooney started the inning with a five-pitch walk to brink up Dirksen. He sent a 1-1 pitch 103 mph off his bat over the left-field wall to make it a 5-4 score.
The home run was the 17th of the season for the Vikings’ catcher, tying the single-season record with Carter Howell, now of the San Francisco Giants minor league system.
That 5-4 score did not hold long as Southern New Hampshire scratched a sixth run across the plate in the top of the sixth for the 6-4 score. The Penmen added two more runs in the top of the seventh, first a sacrifice fly, then a double.
In the bottom of the seventh, Augustana got one run back, again in an unorthodox manner of reaching base on a dropped third strike. Jack Hines struck out but reached first base as the catcher was unable to make the catch. A double by Tate Meiners scored Hines but after a pitching change, AU was unable to do any more damage in the frame.
Southern New Hampshire added two more runs in the top of the eighth, all without recording a hit to open a 10-5 advantage.
With their backs against the wall, Augustana loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning and on a bases-loaded walk, scored its sixth run of the game. However, the threat ended again on a pitching change and flyout.
Neither team did any damage in the ninth inning as the final score held at 10-6 as Southern New Hampshire kept its season alive with the win while Augustana’s season came to an end.
Augustana ended the game with 11 hits, with three coming off the bat of Pinnow and two each from Dirksen and Meiners. Dirksen recorded four RBI in the contest while he extended his on-base streak to 23 games.
Caleb Saari was charged with the loss after pitching 5.2 innings and giving up six hits and three earned runs. The Vikings used five relief pitchers with Ethan Cole and Ashton Michek each recording a strikeout.