SIOUX FALLS, SD (northernsun.org) – The Augustana baseball team is headed back to Cary, North Carolina. The 2018 National Champions advanced to the NCAA Division II version of the ‘College World Series’ after claiming a pair of wins over Minnesota State Saturday.
In the best-of-three series, Augustana entered Saturday with its back against the walls needing to win two games, and did just that. The Vikings claimed game one 8-3 behind a complete game effort from Seth Miller while game two was a 16-2 rout to advance.
Augustana, the NSIC and Central Region Champion, is now 47-19 on the year. Minnesota State sees its season come to an end with a 43-18 record.
Game One: Augustana 8, Minnesota State 3
Minnesota State earned its first run in the first inning as the leadoff hitter, Matt Fleischhacker, doubled into right center. He was then brought home on a single by Ryan Wickman for the early lead. The Mavericks then used small ball in the second frame to scratch their second run across the plate. Adam Weed was on base via a double, and was scooted to third on a sacrifice bunt. Adam Schneider then hit a Texas-leaguer into right field to score Weed.
Minnesota State also scored an unearned run in the second inning for the 3-0 advantage.
Augustana got on the scoreboard in the third inning with Nick Banowetz touching home plate as Drey Dirksen hit a ball hard at the shortstop. Tate Meiners then drew a bases loaded walk to push Parker Mooney across the dish at home. Mooney had reached base on a double on the right-field line to initially get into scoring position.
The Vikings then added two more runs in the fourth inning with back-to-back bases loaded fortunes. Meiners was hit by a pitch to send Jack Hines home. The next batter, Ragan Pinnow, drew a 3-2 walk to give Augustana its first lead of the series at 4-3.
A sacrifice bunt off the bat of Meiners gave Augustana a 5-3 lead in the sixth inning to score Drey Dirksen. A two-run seventh inning continued to boost AU’s lead as Banowetz singled through the left side to score Maddux Baggs. Two batters later, a sacrifice fly from Parker Mooney scored Trevor Winterstein.
Meiners added a final insurance run for Augustana in the eighth inning as he propelled a home run far over the left-center field fence.
However, that was plenty of run support for Seth Miller on the mound as he only got stronger as the game went on. After the initial three runs over two innings, he didn’t allow any damage from the Mavericks in the final seven innings as he earned his 11th win of 2023. His final stats line allowed nine hits, two earned runs while striking out six in the complete-game effort.
Augustana recorded nine hits in the game with three from Banowetz to lead the way. Meiners recorded four RBI.
Game Two: Augustana 16, Minnesota State 2
For the first time of the series, Augustana struck first and it was the second inning. After AU loaded the bases, Luke Ballweg crossed home plate on a fielder’s choice.
In the fourth inning, the Vikings put four runs on the scoreboard to open a 5-0 lead. Ragan Pinnow hit a bunt single that scored Ballweg. Two batters later, Tate Meiners crossed home plate as Trevor Winterstein hit a sharp single through the right side.
The final two runs of the inning came on a Jack Hines double. The shot that lined the left-field foul line, scored Winterstein and Pinnow.
Augustana pushed another run across the plate in the fifth inning as Meiners recorded his third hit of the game with a double to score Ballweg, his third run of the game.
The lead continued to balloon in the sixth frame with six runs. After Winterstein and Banowetz each scored on singles, Meiners kept his hot bat with a two-run double to score Dirksen and Mooney. The inning concluded with runs from Ballweg and Meiners to make it 12-0.
A grand slam by Jack Hines in the bottom of the eighth gave Augustana at 16-0 advantage before the final score settled at 16-2.
The Vikings pounded out 18 hits in the contest with 4-for-5 efforts from Meiners and Winterstein to lead the way. On the hill, Ashton Michek was lights out, tossing seven innings and giving up just five hits and no runs. The Vikings’ pitching staff did not issue a walk in the game.
Augustana advances to the NCAA Championship site in Cary, North Carolina, for the second time in program history. The 2018 National Champions will open competition on June 3 or June 4. Seedings for the tournament will be announced in the near future.