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May 10, 2013

Vikings one win from CCIW tournament title

Senior first baseman Grant Stewart drove in both Augustana runs Friday night as the Vikings moved within one win of the CCIW tournament championship with a 2-1 win over Illinois Wesleyan.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.- All freshman Chris Sauer (Rock Canyon HS, Littleton, Colo.) did in first collegiate start Friday evening was go eight innings against 25th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan, holding the Titans to one run and pitching Augustana to the championship game of the CCIW tournament. The 18th-ranked Vikings (31-8) need one more win for the title. IWU (30-11), the top seed and host, will play North Park (21-20) at noon on Saturday, with the winner taking on Augustana at 3:00 p.m.

Sauer came into the contest having thrown just 9 2/3 innings in two relief appearances this season. He scattered seven singles and a double in eight innings, fanning three and walking none, before turning it over to senior closer Rick Erickson (Lake Zurich HS, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) in the ninth. Erickson set the Titans down for his ninth save of the year. Sauer moved to 2-0 with the win.  

Kurt Schmidt (Grayslake Central HS, Grayslake, Ill.) got the Vikings started in the top of the first with a two-out single off IWU starter Nick Mehn. Grant Stewart (Sterling HS, Sterling, Ill.) followed with an RBI double to right center, giving Sauer an early lead.  

Augustana's freshman southpaw retired the first six Titans he faced before Anthony Lopez led off the bottom of the third with a double down the left field line. One out later, Matt Workman singled Lopez to third and the IWU second baseman scored when the Vikings couldn't turn two on Zach Scott's grounder to second. Sauer fanned Jon Frericks to get out of the inning with no further damage.  

After leaving runners at first and third in the fourth, Augustana re-took the lead in the fifth. Jeremy Juhl (Glenbard East HS, Lombard, Ill.) drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Jacob Van Duyne's (Wilmington HS, Wilmington, Ill.) single to right center. Danny Fifer (Lincoln-Way West HS, New Lenox, Ill.) then beat out a bunt to load the bases. Schmidt flied to left, but Stewart drove in his second run of the game with a slow roller to second.  

Schmidt came up with a huge defensive play in the bottom of the fifth. Workman got a two-out infield hit and was balked to second. Scott followed with a single up the middle but the Viking second baseman made a diving stop in short center and caught Workman rounding third too aggressively. He threw to Kyle Lenihan (Romeoville HS, Romeoville, Ill.) who relayed to catcher Nick Tenerelli (Downers Grove South HS, Downers Grove, Ill.), who applied the tag to end the inning.  

The Titans mounted one more threat in the eighth. Scott led off with a single to right center. Two outs later, Nick Hahn singled to left, with Scott moving to third. However, Sauer got Johnathan Erickson, the last batter he would face, to fly to left to end the inning.  

Erickson gave up a one-out single to Lopez in the ninth, but got A.J. Nathan to fly to right and Workman to hit a comebacker to end it.  

Stewart and Fifer each had two of the Vikings' seven hits. Mehn (5-2) went the distance and took the tough luck loss for the Titans.  

The Vikings now await the winner of Saturday's noon contest between Illinois Wesleyan and North Park. Either team would have to beat Augustana at 3:00 p.m. Saturday and again at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday to claim the tournament championship.