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April 1, 2010

2010 Season - Vikings surrender two ninth inning leads

WHEATON, Ill.—The youthful Augustana Vikings opened CCIW play in excruciating fashion on Thursday, dropping both ends of a doubleheader at Wheaton. The 15th-ranked Vikings gave up a pair ninth-inning runs in game one as Wheaton pulled out a 10-9 victory. In the nightcap, the Thunder put five runs on the board in the bottom of the ninth to claim a 12-11 win. Wheaton improves to 15-3 on the year (2-0 in the CCIW) while Augustana has now dropped four in a row and is 12-4 overall and 0-2 in the league. The teams meet Saturday at Swanson Stadium/Brunner Field for a single game at 1:00 p.m.

Game One—Wheaton 10, Augustana 9

Fans at Wheaton got a preview of what was in store as each team put four runs on the board in the opening inning of game one. Kevin Serna (Rolling Meadows HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Kurt Schmidt (Grayslake Central, Grayslake, Ill.) started the game with back-to-back singles and the Vikings got RBI from Tyler Wilson (Valparaiso HS, Valparaiso, Ind.), Nick Kujawa (Sandburg HS, Orland Park, Ill.), T.J. O’Donnell (New Trier HS, Northbrook, Ill.) and Mike Barker (Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo.; now resides in Marina del Rey, Calif.) to take a 4-0 lead.

The Thunder responded with four runs without the benefit of a base hit in the bottom half. After leadoff hitter Ryan Miller reached on an error, Viking starter Mike Trotta (Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) walked the next three hitters to force in a run. Wheaton added runs on a passed ball, a sacrifice fly and an infield grounder.

A Brian Kolb solo home run in the third inning gave Wheaton the lead and the Thunder added a pair of unearned runs off Viking reliever Kevin Kulig (Benet Academy, Lemont, Ill.) in the fourth to make it 7-4.

Barker’s RBI single and Joe Cecchi’s (Romeoville HS, Romeoville, Ill.) two-run single evened the score at 7-7 in the fourth and Augustana added single runs in the sixth and seventh to take a 9-7 lead.

Ray Homolka (Glenbard West HS, Wheaton, Ill.) had held Wheaton scoreless for two innings, but the Thunder got to him for a run in the seventh on a Danny Pyne RBI single to center. Vince Frede (St. Charles East HS, St. Charles, Ill.) came on in the eighth and held the Thunder, leaving two runners stranded.

Viking closer Joe Ufheil (Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.), who had been unscored upon in eight appearances this year, came on to start the ninth. Wheaton cleanup hitter Josh Weaver ended Ufheil’s scoreless string abruptly, pounding a game-tying homer to left field. Drew Golz then reached and advanced to second on the Vikings’ fourth error of the game and came around to score the winning run on Pyne’s single to right.

After six saves and a win, Ufheil suffered his first loss of the season. John Little, who held the Vikings without an earned run over the last four innings, evened his record at 1-1 with the win.

Game Two—Wheaton 12, Augustana 11

Several Augustana freshmen had big games in the nightcap, but it wasn’t enough as the Thunder touched Ufheil for five runs in the bottom of the ninth and came away 12-11 winners.

Kujawa’s two-run double to center off Wheaton starter Trey Martin brought home Schmidt and Hoffman, who had each singled, giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Kolb’s RBI double off Josiah Martin (Canton HS, Canton, Ill.) in the bottom of the frame cut the lead to 2-1.

Each team added a run in the third. Schmidt started the Vikings’ half with a one-out single, moved to second on Trey Martin’s errant pickoff throw and eventually scored on a wild pitch. A Kolb solo homer to center in the bottom of the inning again trimmed the margin to one run at 3-2.

The Thunder took a 6-3 lead with four runs in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Pyne and Mark Price and a two-run homer by Charlie Antal spelled the end of Josiah Martin’s day. The Vikings came right back to regain the lead with six runs in the top of the fifth. Cecchi was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. One out later Serna drew a walk and Schmidt followed with his third straight single, scoring Cecchi. After a Dave Hoffman (Cary-Grove HS, Fox River Grove, Ill.) single to left loaded the bases, Wilson came through with an RBI single to right. Kujawa then ended Trey Martin’s day and regained the lead by clearing the bases with a triple to left. O’Donnell’s RBI groundout gave Augustana a 9-6 lead after four and a half innings.

Freshman Ben Heaton (Bloomington Central Catholic HS, Heyworth, Ill.) made his first ever collegiate appearance in relief of Josiah Martin and proceeded to shut out the potent Wheaton offense for the next three innings. Meanwhile, his counterpart Matt MaLossi, who had come in relief of Trey Martin, was matching him pitch-for-pitch.

The Vikings finally touched MaLossi for a run on Tyler Bernal’s (LaSalle-Peru HS, Peru, Ill.) RBI fielder’s choice in the eighth, extending the margin to 10-6. However, Frede surrendered a run on back-to-back doubles by Pyne and Price and the teams went to the ninth with Augustana leading 10-7.

In the top of the fateful ninth inning, Wilson connected off Zach Fallon for his first collegiate homer to make it 11-7. Fallon retired the Vikings with no further damage and Ufheil came on to try and close it out. He walked Kolb to start the inning and Justin Zeller then blasted a homer to center, cutting the lead to 11-9. Weaver followed by reaching on an error.

After Ufheil fanned Golz, Pyne lashed his third double of the game, scoring Weaver and bringing the winning run to the plate in the person of Price. The Wheaton third baseman didn’t disappoint the Thunder faithful, pounding a two-run walk-off homer to left.

Ufheil suffered his second loss of the day, falling to 1-2 on the year. Fallon was credited with the win. Despite the loss, several of coach Greg Wallace’s first-year players had big games. Heaton fired three scoreless innings in his collegiate debut. Schmidt went 3-for-5 with three runs scored. Kujawa was also 3-for-5 and drove in five runs with a single, double and triple and Wilson drove in a pair of runs with two hits including his first home run.