NCAA BASEBALL: Alfson, Rients keep SMSU alive in NSIC tourney

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Brandan Alfson tossed eight-plus innings, allowing just three runs and no walks, while Patrick Rients belted his NCAA Division II leading 19th home run of the season to lead Southwest Minnesota State to a 5-3 victory over Northern State in an elimination game at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament at Ronken Field on Wednesday night.

SMSU (27-22) will now play 7 p.m. today against losing team of a game between Winona State and Wayne State at Sioux Falls Stadium.

Alfson (4-1) – who defeated NSU on Sunday with a two-hit 7-inning shutout – tossed 97 pitches, including 73 for strikes, in defeating the Wolves for the third time this season. He allowed seven hits and recorded two strikeouts.

Alfson left the game in the top of the ninth after allowing a home run and a double, but Jimmy Callahan came in and retired all three batters he faced to record his first save of the season.

In three starts this season versus the Wolves, Alfson tossed 21 innings, allowing 15 hits and five earned runs with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Alfson also had a strong game at the plate going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Sam Haas and Austin Stubbs both collected two hits and one RBI.

NSU started the game’s scoring in the second as Robbie Rocamora lined an opposite field shot over the right field wall for his team-leading ninth home run of the season.

The Wolves maintained the lead until the fourth, when Rients worked a one-out hit and was quickly followed by an RBI double from Stubbs, who tied the game at 1-1. Following a ground out, Alfson came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to score Stubbs to give the Mustangs a 2-1 lead. Haas then came through and dropped a double down the left field line to extend the SMSU lead to 3-1.

Alfson then took command and retired 14 of 15 NSU batters from the fourth through the eighth innings, allowing just a one-out double in the fifth.

The Mustangs added to their lead in the fifth as Rients lined a 1-0 pitch over the center field fence for a two-run homer to make the score 5-1.

Rocamora connected on another solo homer to lead off the ninth and was followed by Alex Cornwell’s double to end Alfson’s night. Callahan then entered the game and coaxed two ground outs and a fly out to secure the victory.

The Mustangs ended the game with nine hits, while the Wolves had seven hits with Rocamora finishing 3-for-4.

SMSU defeated NSU in seven out of eight meetings this season, including three times in Arizona in March and three of four last weekend in Marshall.

First Round

Augustana 12, SMSU 5

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – No. 2 seed Augustana scored multiple runs in five innings and pounded out 17 hits to earn a 12-5 victory over No. 7 seed Southwest Minnesota State in the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament at Karras Park on the campus of Augustana College.

The Vikings (37-14), ranked sixth in this week’s NCAA Central Region poll, will face No. 3 seed St. Cloud State at 2 p.m. today.

Augustana built an 8-1 lead after five innings, before SMSU rallied to make the score 8-5 in the sixth. The Vikings answered with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the eighth to seal their fifth win in five games over the Mustangs this season.

Jake Petersen and Tony Viger each collected three hits for Augustana, while Petersen and Brian Duxbury each finished with three RBI.

Austin Stubbs led SMSU’s 11-hit attack going 3-for-4 with two RBIs while Ben Korger and Patrick Rients each went 2-for-4.

The Mustangs began the game’s scoring in the first as Rients ripped a two-out single and advanced to second on an error by the Augustana center fielder. Stubbs then laced an RBI single to right-center to score Rients and put SMSU in the lead at 1-0.

The Vikings took the lead in the second by plating three runs. Duxbury started the scoring with an RBI single, before a sacrifice fly by Zach Dibble and an RBI double by Peterson gave the Vikings a 3-1 lead.

Augustana added to its lead in the third on a two-run double by Duxbury to make the score 5-1, then pushed across three unearned runs in the fifth on four hits and one SMSU error to build an 8-1 advantage and chase Mustang starter Steven Wehr with two outs in the fifth.

SMSU cut its deficit in the sixth as Jordon Kontz and Rients started a rally with singles, before Stubbs hit an RBI single to center to score Kontz and Rients as the center fielder misplayed the ball to allow the second run to score. Jon Ellis hit a double to left field to put runners on second and third, before Brandan Alfson singled to right field to make the score 8-4. A ground out by Sam Haas scored another run to trim the Augustana lead to 8-5.

The Vikings’ Alex Fink answered in a big way in the sixth with a two-run homer to give Augustana a 10-5 lead and the Vikings never looked back in earning the victory.

Wehr (5-4) suffered the loss for SMSU, tossing 4 2/3 innings allowing 10 hits, eight runs (five earned) with one strikeout and a season-high four walks. He entered the game having walked just 10 batters all season long in 59 2/3 innings.

Kye Winter – a first team All-NSIC honoree – moved to 8-0 on the season scattering nine hits and allowing five runs (four earned) with eight strikeouts and one walk.