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April 10, 2009

2009 Season - Vikings sweep Millikin in baseball and hit 20 victory mark for 12th straight year

MOLINE, Illinois – Because of the threat of rain in Decatur, Illinois the weekend series with Millikin was moved to Swanson Stadium/Brunner Field. Despite playing as the visitors, Augustana was comfortable in the familiar surroundings and responded with a double header sweep of the Big Blue in College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin action on Friday, April 10.

The Vikings won game one by a score of 11-4 in 12 innings and then came back with an impressive 17-1 victory in game two. With the double header sweep Augustana moved to 20-7 overall and 7-4 in CCIW action. This is the 12th straight season under veteran head coach Greg Wallace that the Vikings have won at least 20 games. Prior to Wallace’s arrival as the head coach in 1998, the Blue & Gold had reached 20 victories in baseball only two other times in school history.

Offense was not a problem in the double header as the Vikings pounded out 16 hits in each game and received nice outings on the mound from starters Mike Trotta (Niles Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) in game one and Matt Erickson (Marmion Academy, Channahon, Ill.) in game two.

GAME 1 – Augustana 11, Millikin 4 in 12 innings

It took a while for the Vikings to break through but when they did, it came in the form of a seven run outburst in the 12th and the result was an unusual 11-4 win in extra innings. Millikin was leading 3-1 heading into the top of the seventh when Augustana finally got to Big Blue starter Michael Laird.

John Vezzetti (LaSalle Peru HS, Peru, Ill.) led off the frame with a double to right and Jack Lococo (Dundee Crown HS, Algonquin, Ill.) lofted a ball to center that fell for a double but Vezzetti had to hold up and could only advance to third. Lococo gave way to pinch runner Michael Barker (Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo.). Joe Moran (Niles Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) reached on an infield single with Vezzetti scoring and Barker scampering to third. Don Hansen (Cary Grove HS, Cary, Ill.) hit a ground ball to first base that resulted in a force out of Moran at second but Barker came home with the tying run. Eric Izzo (Lockport HS, Lockport, Ill.) ripped a double that brought Hansen home from first to give Augustana a 4-3 lead.

The Vikings couldn’t hold the advantage, however, as Millikin scored a run in the seventh to tie the game 4-4.

Neither team mounted much of a threat until the top of the 12th when Augustana parlayed five hits and one Big Blue error into seven runs. With one out John Wagle (Rock Island HS, Rock Island, Ill.) singled to left field. Izzo followed with a single to left and Dave Hoffman (Cary Grove HS, Cary, Ill.) doubled to left to score Wagle with the lead run. The Vikings were far from done, however. Mark Ramos (United Township HS, East Moline, Ill.) reached on an error with Hoffman and Izzo scoring on the play to make it 7-4. Kevin Schuetz (St. Charles North HS, St. Charles, Ill.) singled to right and Ramos went to third. T.J. O’Donnell (New Trier HS, Northbrook, Ill.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Kevin Serna (Rolling Meadows HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) was also hit by a pitch to bring home Ramos with the fourth run of the inning and eighth in the game. Moran’s fielder’s choice forced Serna at second but allowed Schuetz to score. Hansen ended the scoring with a double to right field that scored two more runs.

Mike Trotta (Niles Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) worked the first six innings and scattered nine hits with four strikeouts and three base-on-balls. He gave way to Josiah Martin (Canton HS, Canton, Ill.) in the seventh and Martin was tremendous at a crucial point in the game. He gave up two hits and one walk in three innings. Kevin Kulig (Benet Academy, Lemont, Ill.) worked the final three innings and allowed just one hit while striking out two. He picked up the victory in relief.

Izzo and Hoffman each had three hits with Wagle and Moran contributing two apiece. Hansen collected three RBI.

GAME 2 – Augustana 17, Millikin 1

Matt Erickson (Marmion Academy, Channahon, Ill.) struck out seven and gave up just four hits in five innings as he picked up his fourth win of the year against two defeats. He was the beneficiary of a 16 hit attack and a five run second inning that gave the Vikings the early edge in a game that eventually ended up 17-1 in their favor.

With two outs in the top of the first John Wagle (Rock Island HS, Rock Island, Ill.) doubled to right field. Eric Izzo (Lockport HS, Lockport, Ill.) singled in the infield and a throwing error allowed Wagle to score with the game’s first run.

In the second Augustana pounded out five hits and got help from a Millikin error. Kevin Schuetz (St. Charles North HS, St. Charles, Ill.) led off and reached on that error. Myles Kurnick (Buffalo Grove HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) singled him to third and Kurnick went to second on a throw to third. John Vezzetti (LaSalle Peru HS, Peru, Ill.) grounded out but drove in Schuetz and moved Kurnick to third. Don Hansen (Cary Grove HS, Cary, Ill.) doubled to right field to score Kurnick. Joe Moran (Niles Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) singled Hansen to third and he moved to second. The next batter was Mark Ramos (United Township HS, East Moline, Ill.) and Ramos delivered a single to center to drive in Hansen and Moran. Ramos went to second on the throw home and he scored on John Wagle’s (Rock Island HS, Rock Island, Ill.) single to center.

Up 6-0, Erickson came up big in the bottom of the second when he struck out the final two batters with runners on first and third with just one out.

The Vikings scored three runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and five in the sixth to break things wide open. A single run in the seventh ended the scoring and the game was stopped after seven innings due to the 10-run rule. Ray Homolka (Glenbard West HS, Wheaton, Ill.) worked the final two innings in his first varsity action of the year and did not allow a hit.

Wagle and Hansen had three hits to lead the Augustana offensive attack. All three of Hansen’s hits were doubles and he had three RBI and two runs scored. Eric Izzo (Lockport HS, Lockport, Ill.) and Kurnick each had two hits.