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April 3, 2010

2010 Season - Vikings defeat Wheaton 9-2

MOLINE, Ill.—Augustana bounced back from a pair of deflating losses at Wheaton Thursday by putting together all three phases of the game in a 9-2 win over the Thunder Saturday afternoon. The Vikings got plenty of timely hitting and solid defense as well as fine pitching performances by John Peters (Alleman HS, Milan, Ill.), Rick Erickson (Lake Zurich HS, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) and Raymond Homolka (Glenbard West HS, Wheaton, Ill.) in the win at Moline’s Swanson Stadium/Brunner Field. Augustana improves to 13-4 on the year and 1-2 in the CCIW while Wheaton falls to 15-4 overall and 2-1 in the league.

Peters got in a groove early, allowing just one Wheaton base runner (Josh Weaver on a second-inning hit-by-pitch) through the game’s first four innings. Meanwhile, Kevin Serna (Rolling Meadows HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) got the Viking offense started with a booming double to left center leading off the bottom of the first. After Kurt Schmidt (Grayslake Center HS, Grayslake, Ill.) sacrificed him to third and Dave Hoffman (Cary-Grove HS, Fox River Grove, Ill.) drew a base-on-balls, Tyler Wilson (Valparaiso HS, Valparaiso, Ind.) hit a sharp grounder off the glove of Wheaton pitcher Steve Dennison, scoring Serna with the first run of the game.

While Peters was cruising, the Vikings added another run in the third inning. It was Serna again getting things started with a double, this one over the third base bag. A well placed sacrifice bunt by Schmidt turned into a base hit when he beat it out and Hoffman followed by lofting a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Serna for a 2-0 Vikings lead.

The Thunder finally got to Peters for a pair of two-out singles in the fifth, but the Viking right-hander got Charlie Antal to fly to center, ending the inning. Wheaton did manage to tie the game in the sixth with a pair of runs off Peters. Weaver and Drew Golz had RBI singles for the Thunder.

The game wasn’t tied for long, as Augustana came right back with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. Hoffman led off with a single to right and moved to third on Wilson’s double to left. A passed ball brought home the lead run and the Vikings got another on Joe Cecchi’s (Romeoville HS, Romeoville, Ill.) single to center. Mike Barker (Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo.; now resides in Marina del Rey, Calif.) and Jarl Dahlgren (Guilford HS, Rockford, Ill.) followed with singles, but Dennison pitched out of the bases loaded jam to keep the score at 4-2.

Erickson, making his collegiate debut, came on to start the seventh. The lefty got the first hitter, John Whartnaby, to ground to first, but Whartnaby was awarded first base on a catcher’s interference call. Unflustered, the Vikings freshman retired the next two hitters before deftly pitching around Thunder slugger Brian Kolb. After walking Kolb, Erickson got Josh Zeller to fly to Mike Lamb (Ottawa HS, Ottawa, Ill.) in right to end the inning and leave two Wheaton runners stranded.

Augustana broke the game open with a five-run eighth. A leadoff triple to right by Cecchi started things and he came home on a Barker single to left. A Lamb single, a wild pitch and a walk to Schmidt ended Dennison’s day. Hoffman then lined the first pitch from reliever John Pohl into the gap in left center for a two-run double. Nick Kujawa’s (Sandburg HS, Orland Park, Ill.) RBI single rounded out the scoring.

Homolka finished up in the ninth, fanning a pair of Thunder hitters including Ryan Miller looking to end the game.

Peters allowed just five hits and two runs in six innings against a Thunder offense that produced 22 runs in Thursday’s doubleheader. He walked one and fanned four in improving to 3-0 on the year. Dennison absorbed his first loss after four wins.

Hoffman, who was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three driven in, led a 15-hit Viking attack. Serna, Wilson, Cecchi and Barker each had a pair of hits and Serna scored three times.
 
The Vikings head to Bloomington, Illinois for a 2:00 p.m. doubleheader against Illinois Wesleyan on Tuesday, April 6.