Late offensive explosion lifts Vikings past Mustangs

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — After a competitive first six innings, the Southwest Minnesota State baseball team couldn’t keep pace with the Augustana offense on Wednesday night. The Vikings scored seven runs in their final two innings at bat to pull away for a 13-6 win.

The game was officially considered a non-conference game and did not factor into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings.

Heading into Wednesday’s matchup, SMSU had won eight of its previous nine games, including its first four-game sweep of a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opponent since 2017 with a pair of doubleheaders against Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday.

Augustana jumped out to an early lead in the second inning with four runs. Joe Kolbeck started the rally by reaching base on an error at second base by the Mustangs. Ethan Cole then walked and Tate Meiners reached base on a fielder’s choice that got Kolbeck out at third.

Sam Siegel broke the ice when he doubled to center to drive in two of the runs and Trevor Winterstein singled to put runners on the corners.

SMSU finally got the first out of the inning when a Nick Banowetz sacrifice fly drove in Winterstein and Parker Mooney then singled to make it 4-0 before a strikeout ended the inning.

An Isaac Nett solo home run in the seventh inning — his fifth home run in his last three games — made it a 6-3 game in favor of the Vikings. Yet, Augustana responded with three straight outs to end the top half of the frame.

In the bottom of the same inning, Cole hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Jack Hines and Luke Ballweg hit a two-run homer in the next at-bat to make the score 9-3.

If six runs weren’t enough insurance, Mooney hit another two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. Maddux Baggs then singled to drive in Kolbeck and Drey Dirksen to give Augustana a 13-3 lead, its largest of the game.

Bennett Knapper started on the mound for SMSU, dropping to 0-1 on the season after allowing four runs — two of which were earned — over 2 1/3 innings. He surrendered four hits and a walk while striking out a pair of batters.

SMSU put four other pitchers in the game after Knapper. Kobe Lovell was the only one not to allow a run, holding the Vikings without a baserunner in a perfect sixth inning. He struck out two of the three batters he faced and threw just 11 pitches.

SMSU tried to rally in the ninth inning when Nett walked, Jaxon Haase singled and a wild pitch put the two runners in scoring position.

Owen Latendresse pushed Nett to home with an RBI single but Kalenberg flied out into a double play to put two away.

Peyton Nash hit a triple to drive in Latendresse and scored on a wild pitch to make it 13-6. Singles from Brady Petron and Jake Tauer kept the rally going but a Cody Wichmann groundout ended the game.

SMSU scored its first runs of the game when Tauer hit an RBI single to drive in Kalenberg and Latendresse in the fourth inning. Yet, Siegel homered and Banowetz scored on a dropped fly ball to match SMSU’s production and keep Augustana up by a score of 6-2.

Caleb Kranz started for Augustana, allowing two earned runs on five hits over four innings. He also struck out six batters.

With Kranz exiting before the start of the fifth inning, Kai Taylor recorded the win for the Vikings to improve to 1-0 on the year. He surrendered a double to Chase McDaniel and hit Haase and Latendresse in consecutive at-bats but managed to get out of the inning unscathed after forcing a groundout to end the inning with the Vikings’ lead intact.

SMSU falls to 14-10 with the loss while Augustana moves to 18-6 with the win. The Mustangs (8-7 NSIC) will host Concordia-St. Paul (7-9 NSIC) on Saturday and Sunday for their first home games of the season. First pitch for Saturday’s doubleheader against the Golden Bears is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. while Sunday’s is slated for noon.


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