NCAA BASEBALL: Vikings sweep SMSU at home

MARSHALL – Augustana held off a late Southwest Minnesota State rally in Game 1 before scoring 12 runs in Game 2 to sweep a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference doubleheader Saturday at Alumni Field.

The Vikings won the opener 7-6 and earned a 12-2 win in the nightcap. The two victories completed a four-game sweep for Augustana, which won two games Friday in Sioux Falls.

The two losses spoiled a big day for SMSU’s Patrick Rients, who belted four home runs in the two games, including tying a school single-game record with three homers in a game. He finished the day with eight RBIs and is the first player since 1986 to hit three home runs in a single game.

In the opener, Augustana (31-10, 21-4 NSIC) began the scoring as Jake Peterson started the game with a leadoff homer over the fence in center field to give the Vikings an early lead.

SMSU (17-18, 8-11 NSIC) tied the game an inning later as Rients belted his team-leading ninth home run to lead off the second and to tie the game at 1.

The Mustangs nearly took the lead later in the inning as Ben Korger – with runners on first and second – laced a single to right field, but Vikings’ right fielder Kye Winter tossed a perfect strike to the plate to gun down Brandan Alfson, who attempted to score.

The game remained tied until the fourth, when Augustana plated five runs on six hits to chase SMSU starter Steven Wehr and build a 6-1 advantage.

Rients connected on another solo homer in the sixth to make it 6-2, before the Vikings added a single run in the seventh, which proved to be a big run.

In the seventh, Rients cracked a grand slam with two outs to cut the deficit to 7-6, before Viking closer Derek Quame recorded the final out to end the game to secure the win and his seventh save of the season.

SMSU collected 10 hits with Rients finishing 3-for-4 with three runs scored and six RBI, while Jon Ellis also finished with three hits.

Wehr (3-3) lasted just 3 2/3 innings – his second shortest start of the season – allowing six runs on eight hits. Ryan Ecalbarger tossed a solid 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeotus.

In Game 2, Augustana once again got off to an early lead with a one-out solo home run to take a 1-0 advantage off of SMSU starter Brandyn Olson, who was making his first career start.

The Mustangs quickly responded in the first as Rients connected on a two-run homer to make the score 2-1.

But the lead didn’t last long as Augustana scored three runs in the second and five more in the third to build a 9-2 advantage and never looked back in earning its 11th straight victory.

SMSU was held to seven hits with Korger leading the Mustangs with three, including two doubles, while Austin Stubbs had two hits.

Olson (0-4) tossed 2 1/3 innings and allowing nine hits and eight runs (seven earned) with three strikeouts.

Southwest Minnesota State continues its homestand at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday by taking on Concordia-St. Paul in an NSIC doubleheader.