SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- In the final game of the regular season, the No. 25 Augustana baseball team (36-14, 29-6 NSIC) was playing for a chance at the NSIC regular season championship for the first time in program history. The Vikings left no doubt in their quest as they took down Upper Iowa (12-28, 9-26 NSIC) 27-5 on Senior Day.
The Vikings clinched the NSIC regular season title with a 29-6 record in conference play while Minnesota State finished second in the standings with a 28-8 record in the NSIC. The 27 runs in the win are the third-most all-time in a game for Augustana and their 23 hits are tied for second all-time in a game.
The game began with five runs in the first inning by the Vikings. Over the past nine games, Augustana has scored at least one run in the first inning of each of those games. Riley Johnson kicked off the scoring for the Vikings as he hit an RBI single to right field. Jordan Barth followed it up with an RBI single to right field after a balk scored JT Mix. Ryan Nickel capped off the first with a two-RBI double to center field to put the Vikings up 5-0 after one inning.
Five more runs in the second inning put the Vikings firmly in the driver's seat as Nate Crossman drove a two-RBI single up the middle and Sam Baier followed it up with a three-run shot to left center. Upper Iowa put up four runs in the third inning to pull the lead to 10-4, but Augustana struck back with a run in the third, followed by a huge eight-run inning in the fourth.
During the nine-run stretch, Michael Svozil, Bjorn Hanson, Mix, Nickel, Johnson, Barth, and Baier all recorded RBI as the Vikings went up 19-4. Three more runs were scored by Augustana in the fifth inning with an error by Upper Iowa, and a Mitch Stroh and Hanson RBI.
The Peacocks scored a run in the sixth and the Vikings answered back with five additional runs in the bottom half of the inning on a Ben Ihrke RBI double followed by an Aiden Ladd two-RBI single up the middle and a two-RBI single by Nickel.
On the mound, Evan Furst was awarded the win after coming in as a relief pitcher in the third inning as he pitched one complete inning. Seth Miller started for Augustana on the hill, but did not pitch through the fifth inning to qualify for the win. Jed Schmidt, Thomas Bruss, Michael Jensen, Anthony Lanier, and Michael Brandt each saw action in relief for the Vikings.
The Vikings head to St. Cloud, Minn. next week for the NSIC Tournament that begins on Wednesday with their opponent still to be determined.