The University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagle Baseball team took on their toughest opponent of the season, and the #19 ranked Augustana Vikings won the first game 13-6. In the second game, UMC looked bounced back to win 9-5 to earn a big split in a Northern Sun Conference double-header in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
GAME ONE –
UMC batters saw a familiar face on the mound to start the game when former UMC Golden Eagle baseball player, Parker Hanson (Sr. Hawley) took the mound for Augustana. Hanson is a grad transfer taking advantage of a bonus year of eligibility because he is attending graduate school at Augustana.
Neither team scored in the first inning. In the bottom of the second inning, Augustana hit a two-out, two-run home run to take a 2-0 lead after two innings.
Augustana broke the game open in the third inning. The inning started with a ground out, but the Vikings followed with a single, a stolen base, and a run scored on an error for a 3-0 lead. The next batter walked, followed by back-to-back singles, and another run scored on an error for a 4-0 lead. They added another run on a ground out for a 5-0 lead. The next batter hit a two-run home run for a 7-0 lead. The next Augustana batter hit a solo home run for an 8-0 lead. The next batter walked and stole second before advancing to third base on a passed ball. The Vikings added a rbi triple to take a 9-0 lead. After a UMC pitching change, Augustana drew a walk and stole second base, and on the same play, they also stole home to take a 10-0 lead. Augustana scored eight runs on six hits, while UMC committed three errors.
UMC bounced back with a couple of runs in the top of the fourth inning when Will Zimmerman (Sr. Park River, ND) singled to left-centerfield, and Mason Ruhlman (Sr. Algonac, Mich) hit a home run to bring the Golden Eagles within a 10-2 deficit.
Augustana added a run in the bottom of the fifth inning with a single, stolen base, and a ground out to take an 11-2 lead.
UMC had a great start to the top of the sixth inning when Zimmerman led off with a single, Ruhlman followed with a single, and Brock Reller (Sr. Grand Forks, ND) singled to score a run, and the Golden Eagles trailed 11-3 with nobody out. The next batter was retired before Jake Hjelle (Fresh. East Grand Forks) hit a three-run home run to bring UMC within an 11-6 deficit.
Augustana answered in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff walk, and the runner advanced to third on a UMC error. The next batter singled and a run scored. The next batter doubled to score another run for a 13-6 lead with nobody out, forcing UMC to change pitchers. With a new pitcher on the mound, the first Viking batter walked before the next two batters were retired.
In the top of the seventh inning, UMC tried to mount a big comeback. Ben Bryant (Soph. Fargo, ND) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The next two batters struck out before a pitch hit Reller, and runners were at first and second base. Scott Finberg (Sr. Stillwater) doubled down the left-field line to score a run. Augustana changed pitchers, and Hjelle reached on an infield single that allowed a run to score, and the Golden Eagles trailed 13-8. Bobby Chu (Sr. Redwood City, CA) was hit by a pitch, but the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, and Augustana won the game 13-8.
FOR THE GAME ONE BOX SCORE, CLICK HERE
UMC came out strong in the first inning scoring five runs to put their stamp on the game right away. UMC’s Bryant led off with a single, followed by a Zimmerman walk. Ruhlman brought in the first run of the game on an Augustana two-base error. Reller was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Finberg laced the first pitch he saw to left field to drive in two runs. Hjelle was then hit by a pitch to load the bases for the second time in the inning. After two strikeouts, the Golden Eagles strong two-out hitting came up big once again as Landyn Swanson (Sr. Devils Lake, ND) drove in two more runs to make the score 5-0.
Augustana answered right back in the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff single and two batters later, a two-run homer to get the Vikings on the board.
In the top of the second inning, Zimmerman reached on another Augustana error, and Ruhlman walked to start the inning. The runners advanced on a stolen base and wild pitch. Reller added to his team-leading RBI total with a sacrifice fly to score Zimmerman to give UMC a 6-2 lead.
UMC struck quickly in the fourth inning, with Bryant leading off with another single. Two pitches later, Zimmerman continued his strong day with a two-run shot to left field to increase the Golden Eagles lead to 8-2.
Augustana answered right back, as good teams do, with another run in the bottom of the fourth. After two quick outs and looking like UMC would put up a third straight scoreless inning, they hit a solo homer over the left-field fence to cut the lead to 8-3.
Neither team scored in the fifth or sixth innings.
UMC did not score in the seventh. However, Augustana added a run. After the first two Vikings were retired, they answered with back-to-back hits and scored a run to get within an 8-3 deficit.
The Golden Eagles went scoreless in the top of the eighth inning, and Augustana took advantage by getting another run across. Sandwiched between a couple of outs was a single, and a passed ball and wild pitch leading to a walk to get two runners on. With two outs, the Vikings came up with an RBI single to make it 8-5 before a groundout ended the inning.
UMC got a big insurance run with a Finberg solo home run for a 9-5 lead in the final frame. Tyler Hegg (Soph. Thompson, ND) finished off the game in the bottom of the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning to earn a split of the doubleheader with a 9-5 victory.
FOR THE GAME TWO BOX SCORE, CLICK HERE
UMC improves to 13-1 on the year and 9-1 in the NSIC and will kick off a 13-game homestand on Friday when they host Wayne State at 1:30 p.m. in the home opener. KROX will have the game on the radio with the RiverView Health pre-game show at 1:00 p.m.
Augustana is now 10-4 on the year and 6-4 in the NSIC.