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June 3, 2008

2009 Season - 2008 BASEBALL REVIEW

Augustana finishes the year ranked 24th in the nation and two wins away from the College World Series; Wagle selected as a third team All-American

 

Behind a record-setting offense, head coach Greg Wallace’s Augustana baseball team put together another 30-plus win season and made its third NCAA tournament appearance in 2008. The Vikings set school records in every offensive category except batting average and finished 34-13. That represents the third highest win total in school history and the team’s fourth consecutive season over 30 wins. The Vikings also hosted an NCAA regional and reached the final day of play before finishing third, just two wins shy of its first Division III College World Series appearance. They finished the year ranked 24th in the nation by D3Baseball.com.

 

The season started with a two-week stretch of games in Florida. After dropping the season opener in the first game of a doubleheader with Widener, the Vikings bounced back to take, not only the nightcap, but the next seven games of the trip as well. Win number one of the season was the 300th win for Wallace at his alma mater. The offense was on fire from the start, as the team averaged 12.6 runs a game through the first eight contests. The Vikings hit a red-hot .378 as a team in Florida, led by the one-two punch of junior infielder John Wagle (Rock Island HS, Rock Island, Ill.) and sophomore outfielder Aaron Hopson (Rockford Boylan HS, Rockford, Ill.). Wagle hit .524 with four home runs and 24 RBI and Hopson hit .514 with three homers and 19 RBI. In addition, pitchers Brandon Engel (Moline HS, Moline, Ill.) and Mike Pagano (Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) each fired a shutout during that stretch. Engel went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA as Augustana finished the trip 9-2.

 

Returning to the Midwest, the Vikings stayed on a roll, winning their first seven games to improve to 16-2 on the year. Included in those wins were the team’s first three CCIW contests. The last of those was an impressive two-hit shutout of Elmhurst by freshman Adam Doyle (Wheat Ridge HS, Golden, Colo.). After dropping a pair of conference games to Elmhurst and Wheaton, Augustana rebounded to score 40 runs in a doubleheader sweep of the Thunder. The Vikings hits five home runs, including two by Hopson, in a 25-8 game one win and came back to take the nightcap, 15-11.

 

Augustana went 1-2 in a three game set with eventual league champ Illinois Wesleyan, dropping the first two before bouncing back to get a big 10-4 win down in Bloomington to move to 20-6 on the year and 7-4 in the CCIW.

 

After winning two of three versus North Park and a pair of non-conference games, including an 8-5 win over Rockford that gave Wallace his 400th career win, another big series loomed as the Vikings headed to Kenosha, Wisconsin to take on league-leading Carthage in a three game set April 26-27. The Red Men came into the series with a sparkling 27-1 record, including 14-1 in CCIW play. The Vikings dropped the Saturday doubleheader by scores of 7-5 and 12-8, but came back on Sunday to hand Carthage just its second loss of the season, 11-9. That game also marked the start of Augustana’s third eight game winning streak of the season as they drubbed Loras, Dubuque and North Central on consecutive nights, scoring 45 runs in the process, and followed that up with a three game sweep of Millikin to end the regular season.

 

With a 31-9 overall record and solid third place finish in the league, the Vikings sailed into post season play as the third seed in the CCIW tournament. Illinois Wesleyan had won the regular season title by one game over Carthage, resulting in a first round match-up with the Red Men for Augustana. Trailing 5-2 going into the top of the ninth, the Vikings caught a break when Marc Blakeley (Adams Friendship HS, Richland Center, Wis.) led off the inning by fanning and reaching first on a wild pitch. The team took advantage, scoring four runs in the inning to pull out a 6-5 win.

 

Augustana ran into Illinois Wesleyan and a red hot Matt Aronson in the second round. Aronson shut out the Vikings on five hits, sending them into a rematch with Carthage in an elimination game. There was no miracle comeback this time, as Red Men starter Mario Perez went the distance and Carthage came away a 12-5 winner.

 

At 32-11, the Vikings remained in good shape to receive the third NCAA tournament berth in school history and when the pairings came out, Augustana was indeed in the field. Conference rivals Illinois Wesleyan and Carthage were sent to the regional in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, meaning the Vikings were the lone CCIW representative at the Moline regional.

 

NCAA play started with the Vikings facing Wartburg on Wednesday, May 14. The Knights came in 26-13 and champions of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Trailing 5-3 in the seventh inning, Augustana scored single runs in the seventh and eighth to tie the game and won it in the bottom of the ninth when Don Hansen (Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill.) singled in Hopson with the winning run. That propelled the Vikings into a winner’s bracket game with Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Augustana was in great shape, leading 3-1 with two outs and no one on in the ninth, but the explosive Pointer offense strung together a walk, hit batsman, single and double to tie the game 3-3. In the bottom of the ninth, Myles Kurnick (Buffalo Grove HS, Buffalo Grove, Ill.) was on first with two outs when Blakeley lofted a seemingly harmless pop fly to left center. However, playing deep to guard against the extra base hit, the Pointer outfielders were unable to chase it down and Kurnick raced around from first with the game winner, sending the Vikings to Friday as the tournament’s only remaining unbeaten team.

 

The Webster Gorloks, with one loss and facing elimination, awaited Augustana in that Friday night game. In a contest that resembled a heavyweight prize fight, the Gorloks got the jump on Augustana with five runs in the second inning and one in the third to take a 6-0 lead. When the Vikings got three in the top of the fourth, the Gorloks answered with three in the bottom. When Augustana plated three in the top of the fifth, Webster responded with four of their own. The Vikings still trailed 14-6 going into the top of the eighth, but got a two-run homer from Mark Ramos (United Township HS, East Moline, Ill.) to cut the lead to 14-8. In the top of the ninth, the first six Vikings reached base on five singles and an error and Augustana had the tying run on third when Gorlok reliever Brett Mueller finally got Wagle to pop up and end the game with Webster winning, 14-13. Linfield ended the Vikings’ season on Saturday afternoon with a 10-1 win. The Wildcats went on to win the regional and advance to the College World Series with a win over Webster in the championship later in the day. Blakeley was named to the all-tournament team.

 

Wagle was the offensive leader the entire season. He set a new school single-season home run record when he hit his 11th of the year in the NCAA tournament against Wartburg. He also tied Bryan Phillips’ school record of 60 RBI. He hit a team-best .419 and led the team in total bases with 138, slugging at .723 and on-base percentage at .481 as well. Wagle will enter 2009 third on the Augustana career hits list with 185, as well as fourth in batting (.388) and RBI (121), second in triples (10), tied for fifth in doubles (35) and tied for ninth in home runs (14). He was a first team All-CCIW and All-Region selection, a second team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District pick and a third team D3Baseball.com All-American.

 

Blakeley hit .389 to finish second on the team. Like Wagle, he was a first team All-CCIW and All-Region selection. He led the team in runs scored with 59, a mark surpassed in school history only by the 60 he scored in 2007. He also led the Vikings’ with 26 steals, tying Hansen’s school record. Blakeley was also second on the team with 41 runs batted in. The 2008 D3Baseball.com pre-season first team All-American finishes his career as Augustana’s all-time leader in at-bats (671), runs scored (206), hits (258), and stolen bases (78). In addition he’s in the top ten in every other offensive category, finishing second in doubles (44), fourth in walks (92), tied for fifth in home runs (17), sixth in batting (.385) and RBI (113) and tied for eighth in triples (seven). He also leaves Augustana holding single season marks for hits (90 in 2007), runs (60 in 2007), and stolen bases (26 in 2008).

 

Ramos hit .359 and set a school single-season record with seven triples. He also finished third on the team with five home runs and 38 RBI and second with 16 stolen bases. Eric Izzo (Lockport HS, Lockport, Ill.) hit .364, third on the team, with four homers and 37 RBI. Both Ramos and Izzo were first team All-CCIW and second team All-Region picks and Izzo was also a third team Academic All-District selection by ESPN the Magazine. Hopson (Boylan HS, Rockford, Ill.) hit .341 and was second on the team with seven home runs. He scored 37 runs and drove in 37 as well. Hansen and catcher John Vezzetti (LaSalle-Peru HS, Peru, Ill.) were second team All-CCIW picks.

 

Matt Erickson (Marmion Academy, Channahon, Ill.) led the Viking pitching staff with a 6-2 record, a mark matched by senior Eric Knott (Marian Central Catholic HS, Huntley, Ill.). Erickson led the Augustana staff in ERA for the second year in a row with a 3.72 mark and also tied Pagano for the team lead with 58 strikeouts. Pagano went 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA and led the team with 69 1/3 innings pitched. Engle went 4-5 with a 5.60 ERA and ends his career at Augustana fourth on the all-time innings pitched list with 231 as well as fifth in career wins (21) and sixth in career strikeouts (152). Freshman Vince Frede (St. Charles East HS, St. Charles, Ill.) went 4-1 out of the Viking bullpen with a 3.78 ERA. He tied teammate Kevin Dencker (Cary-Grove HS, Fox River Grove, Ill.) for the team lead in saves with three. Doyle split time as a starter and reliever and finished with a 4-0 record.

 

2008 COLLEGE CONFERENCE OF ILLINOIS & WISCONSIN STANDINGS

TEAM

CCIW W-L

CCIW PCT

OVERALL W-L

OVERALL PCT

Ill. Wesleyan

18-3

.857

33-11

.750

Carthage

17-4

.810

36-10

.783

Augustana

14-7

.667

34-13

.723

Wheaton

12-8

.600

23-14

.622

North Central

7-14

.333

14-23

.378

North Park

6-15

.286

16-24

.400

Elmhurst

5-16

.238

12-28

.300

Millikin

4-16

.200

14-20-1

.414

 

2008 CCIW BASEBALL TOURNAMENT

Thursday, May 8, 2008
 #1
Illinois Wesleyan 7, #4 Wheaton 5

#3 Augustana 6, #2 Carthage 5 

Friday, May 9, 2008

Illinois Wesleyan 6, Augustana 0
Carthage 9, Wheaton
1
Carthage
12, Augustana 5 

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Carthage 9, Illinois Wesleyan 4 
Illinois Wesleyan 17, Carthage 7

(Illinois Wesleyan wins CCIW tournament and automatic berth in the NCAA tournament)

 

2008 AUGUSTANA BASEBALL SUPERLATIVES

NCAA DIVISION III ALL-AMERICAN: John Wagle, 3B, American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) - Second Team...D3Baseball.com - Third Team.

NCAA DIVISION III ALL-CENTRAL REGION: John Wagle, 3B; Marc Blakeley, OF, ABCA/Rawlings First Team…Eric Izzo, UT; Mark Ramos, SS, ABCA/Rawlings Second Team.

NCAA DIVISION III REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT: Marc Blakeley, OF.

ESPN THE MAGAZINE ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: John Wagle, IF, Second Team; Eric Izzo, DH, Third Team.

ALL-CCIW: First Team -- Marc Blakeley, OF; John Wagle, IF; Mark Ramos, IF, Eric Izzo, UT…Second Team -- Don Hansen, OF; John Vezzetti, C.

NCAA DIVISION III TOURNAMENT: Augustana made its third NCAA tournament appearance…Hosted and finished third in the NCAA regional in Moline, Illinois.

AUGUSTANA MOST OUTSTANDING OFFENSIVE PLAYER: John Wagle

AUGUSTANA MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER: John Vezzetti

AUGUSTANA MOST OUTSTANDING PITCHER: Matt Erickson & Vince Frede

NCAA DIVISION III NATIONAL RANKING: 24th -- D3Baseball.com

NCAA CENTRAL REGION RANKING: 3rd

CCIW BATTER OF THE WEEK: Aaron Hopson, 3/11/08.

CCIW PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Brandon Engle, 3/11/08.

AUGUSTANA INDIVIDUAL SINGLE SEASON RECORDS: Most Home Runs -- 11, John Wagle…breaks previous record of 10 by Ernie Jack in 2001, Jake Meisenbach in 2005 and Marc Blakely in 2007; Most RBI -- 60, John Wagle…ties record by Bryan Phillips in 2006; Most Triples -- 7, Mark Ramos…breaks previous record of 6 by Chris Beard in 2003; Stolen Bases – 26, Marc Blakeley…ties record by Don Hansen in 2007.

AUGUSTANA INDIVIDUAL CAREER RECORDS: Most At-Bats -- 671, Marc Blakeley…breaks previous record of 550 by Jorge Acosta from 2002-05; Most Runs Scored -- 206, Mark Blakeley…breaks previous record of 153 by Kevin Iaquinto from 1999-2002; Most Hits -- 258, Marc Blakeley…breaks previous record of 222 by Scott Schmid from 1997-2000; Stolen Bases -- 78, Marc Blakeley…breaks previous record of 64 by Steve Lindmark from 1992-95.

AUGUSTANA TEAM SINGLE SEASON RECORDS:  Most Runs Scored -- 432…breaks previous record of 424 in 2000; Most Hits -- 564…breaks previous record of 562 in 2007; Most Doubles -- 113…breaks previous record of 100 in 2005; Most Triples -- 22…breaks previous record of 15 in 2000 and 2005; Most Home Runs -- 49…breaks previous record of 37 in 2005; Most Runs Batted In -- 383…breaks previous record of 368 in 2000.

CCIW INDIVIDUAL SATISTICAL LEADERS: Most Triples -- 3, Mark Ramos; Sacrifice Bunts -- 6, Dave Hoffman; Sacrifice Flies -- 4 (tied), Marc Blakeley; Appearances -- 10 (tied), Kevin Dencker; Relief Appearances -- 10, Kevin Dencker; Assists -- 70, Mark Ramos.

CCIW TEAM STATISTICAL LEADERS: Slugging Percentage -- .561; Home Runs -- 28; Total Bases -- 411; Sacrifice Bunts -- 25; Fielding Percentage -- .959; Double Plays -- 21.

NCAA DIVISION III INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS: Runs -- 59, Marc Blakeley, tied for 15th…Hits -- 80, John Wagle, tied for 9th; 75, Marc Blakeley, tied for 21st…Triples -- 7, Mark Ramos, tied for 8th…RBI -- 60, John Wagle, tied for 18th…Total Bases -- 138, John Wagle, 8th…Base on Balls -- 34, Don Hansen, tied for 26th.

NCAA DIVISION III TEAM RANKINGS: Batting Average -- .348, 18th…Runs Scored -- 432, 8th (tied)…Hits -- 564, 12th…Doubles -- 113, 8th (tied)…Triples -- 22, 14th (tied)…Home Runs -- 49, 16th (tied)…Slugging Percentage -- .535, 11th…Base on Balls -- 214, 9th (tied)…Sacrifice Bunts -- 44, 10th (tied)…Sacrifice Flies -- 27, 22nd (tied)…Double Plays -- 52, 2nd.