The Mavericks baseball team looked strong for most of the day last Wednesday against the Augustana Vikings, as the two teams each won a game.
Minnesota State University, Mankato was able to control the first game with ease behind some stellar pitching from sophomores Aaron Rozek and Brody Rodning. The Mavericks would set the tone in the bottom of the first inning on offense, as they were able to get runners on base and score one off a wild pitch from Vikings starter Michael Letkewicz. Minnesota State would rally for three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, as senior Kyle Toth singled with two outs in the inning to bring home junior Hunter Harnisch and sophomore Josh Wenzel. Senior Taylor Branstad would single in Toth, and the Mavericks would have a 4-0 lead.
They would never lose that lead, as the Vikings were only able to manage single runs scored in the fifth and sixth inning. The Mavericks would add two more in the bottom of the sixth inning, as junior Eric Peterson drove Toth in to score on a RBI single. Peterson would score on a wild pitch later in the inning. The final score would be Minnesota State 6, Augustana 2.
Rozek would earn his third win of the season after going four innings, allowing one run on seven hits. Rodning would pick up his first save of the season, as he pitched three innings, only allowing one run on two hits. The 1-2-3 hitters in Toth, Peterson and Branstad would go a combined 6 for 11, with four runs scored and two RBIs.
The second game was highly contested until the final inning, as the Vikings were able to score first. In the top of the first inning against Mavericks red-shirted freshman Jon Ludwig, the Vikings were able to plate two runners to grab a quick 2-0 lead.
Peterson would continue his hot hitting, as he delivered a 2-run single in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at two. Branstad would earn an easy RBI on a bases-loaded walk to give the Mavs a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Vikings tied the game up in the top of the seventh inning, but the Mavericks would respond with one of their own in the bottom of the inning on a Waldek RBI single, scoring Toth.
Leading 4-3, Ludwig was in position for his first victory after pitching seven innings, while only allowing three runs on nine hits and three strikeouts. The Mavericks bullpen would struggle, and the Vikings were able to hang a seven-spot in the top of the ninth inning to take a 10-4 lead over MSU. Senior Peter Gaustad, senior Dakota Belter and red-shirted freshman Daniel Feneis would combine to give up seven runs (one unearned) on five hits in the final two innings. The Mavs also made two errors in the field, and two Vikings were also hit by a pitch. The Vikings were able to tally 14 hits in the game, doubling up the Mavericks’ 7.
The Mavericks (18-11) will begin a 12-game road trip Wednesday, April 20. Upper Iowa University (11-16) will be next, with the first of two games starting at 1:30 p.m.
Photo: Sophomore infielder Luke Waldek (17) is hitting .361, with 3 homeruns and 23 runs batted in this season. (Yohanes Ashenafi/The Reporter)