SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The national title defense for Augustana came to a close on Saturday in the Central Super Regional, as the No. 1 seed Vikings fell 5-2 to No. 2 seed Central Missouri at Karras Park, home of Ronken Field.
The loss ends the Vikings season with a 43-16 record, while the Mules improve to 43-14, and advance to the Division II National Championship tournament in Cary, N.C.
The Vikings capitalized on a Central Missouri miscue in the top of the second to load the bases with one out, but Mules starter Luke Lucas pitched out of the jam to keep Augie off the board.
The Mules broke through in the bottom of the frame, getting a leadoff single from John Schumacher, who came around to score two batters later on a Donovan Ditto single to right field for a 1-0 Central Missouri lead, and advantage that grew to 2-0 in the third on an Erik Webb solo home run just inside the left field foul pole.
Still 2-0 mules into the fifth, Michael Svozil reached on an error to open the inning, and Ryan Nickel made the most of it, smacking a two-run homer over the right field fence in the next at-bat to knot the game at 2-2 after five complete.
Tied into the bottom of the sixth, Schumacher hit a one-out single, and then scored on a Cole Taylor double to left that bounced off the wall for a 3-2 Mules lead. Taylor advanced to third on a Ditto single, and then scored on a passed ball for a 4-2 Central Missouri lead.
Later in the inning, the Mules added one more, when Zak Whalin scored on a Micah Evans fielder's choice, which gave the Mules 5-2 lead.
Down to their last out in the top of the ninth, the Vikings got to the tying run to the plate, but could not push a any runs across, securing the win for the visiting Mules.
Schumacher set the pace for the Mules in the win, going 3 for 3 with a pair of runs scored. Ditto went 2 for 4 at the plate and Webb 2 for 1, and both added an RBI and a run scored.
Coby Seiz got the win in relief, surrendering just one hit over 1.2 innings pitched to improve to 3-1 on the season. Bryce Kearns gave up two hits, but pitched three scoreless innings to earn his second save of the season.
Seven Vikings combined for nine hits in the game, with Nickel and Seth Miller both getting two of them.