Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Baseball steps up to bat at non-conference invitationals

On the weekend of March 15, the men’s baseball team hosted the Augustana Invitational at the Brunner Field at Swanson Stadium in Rock Island. Their first game of the Invitational was on Saturday, March 16, against Buena Vista University. 

Senior Michael Aragon said he was looking forward to this game because Buena Vista would provide a good match for the team. Buena Vista received votes to be ranked in the national team rankings, giving the Augustana team more motivation.

“I know Buena Vista is receiving a lot of votes to be a top 25 team,” Aragon said. “So they’re up there. Not to discredit any of the teams we’re playing this weekend, but I think Buena Vista and Dubuque are the two big games for us. We play two top-30 teams, so those wins would help our cause.”

After going down 1-0 in the first inning, the Vikings soon took the lead by scoring three in their half of the first inning. The team continued their scoring barrage by scoring three in the second inning, including a run-scoring double by sophomore Grant Biggins. Aragon also got in on the scoring by knocking in two runs in the seventh inning with a single and scoring two more with a double in the eighth inning. 

“I think our mindset is just going to be to take it one game at a time,” Biggins said. “We’ll just have to win one game at a time.”

The Vikings scored 14 runs in a dominating 14-4 win to open the invitational. Senior Carter Foat said he knows that games like that, where pitching and hitting are successful, are essential to creating momentum going into the upcoming games. 

“Our bats were hot today,” Foat said on game day. “That was our struggle in some games where we’ve started scoring late. But today, we started the game out hot, which helped us get [a win] today. It is nice to get up early, have great pitching and hit a lot just because that gets us more momentum.”

In their second invitational game, the Vikings continued their offensive surge at the plate against Dominican University. Davis again provided timely at-bats, going two for five, which included a single that scored two runs in the seventh inning. Sophomore Chance Carruthers pitched five innings while striking out eight batters and only allowing two runs. The Vikings won the game 13-3 in seven innings of play. 

Before competing at the Augustana Invitational, the Vikings bounced back in the Gene Cusic Classic in Fort Myers, Fla., with a score of 3-0 after a tough home opening series against Luther College.

Their first game was on March 8 against Muskingum University, where the team won 8-3. 

The team followed up their performance the next day by winning the second game, 8-7, against the University of Scranton and their third game, 16-8, versus Franklin and Marshall College.  

One player who enjoyed the game against Scranton was junior Colton Davis. Though he only hit 1/4 in the game, his one single drove in a run, which proved to be decisive in the victory. 

“We kept scoring, they kept firing back, and our team just dealt with adversity and ended up coming on top,” Davis said. “Everything seemed to click from the previous weeks. Our hitting was on fire and our pitchers were throwing strikes. Everything felt nice.”

Despite the success in non-conference series such as the Gene Cusic Classic and the Augustana Invitational, the team always looks to get better. Aragon, like many, said he continues to work no matter the results. 

“We’re starting to play really good baseball,” Aragon said. “So, the main thing is cleaning up the small mental mistakes and errors that slow the game down and the momentum away from us. We just continue to clean those up.” 

The Vikings continued their success the following game on March 19 against Dubuque, winning by a score of 12-6. 

“I think the team looks great. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, carry our momentum into these nonconference games and then into the conference,” Biggins said.

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