With the start of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference season delayed by weather, the Southwest Minnesota State baseball team was finally able to open up conference play on Friday. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Augustana (S.D.) was there to spoil the start of NSIC play, sweeping the Mustangs in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Mustangs dropped the opener of their doubleheader 5-3, mustering just six hits and committing four errors. Nick Tillo picked up two base knocks and an RBI, while Steven Kremer blasted a two-run home run in defeat.
Alex Alvarez, the most experienced starter in the Mustang rotation, started for SMSU and held the Vikings to one run through three-plus innings. An injury in the bottom of the fourth, however, forced him to leave the game.
Augustana led 4-0 after five innings and 5-1 after six. An SMSU rally in the seventh fell short after Kremer's two-run shot got the Mustangs within two.
Vikings starter Jordan Milbrath picked up the win behind a nine-strikeout performance over 6 1/3 innings. Alvarez was credited with the loss for the Mustangs.
Augustana again jumped out to a big lead in Game 2, ultimately winning 7-5.
The Vikings pounded SMSU starter Steven Wehr for six runs and eight hits in his four innings of duty, while Augustana took a 7-1 lead into the sixth inning.
SMSU struck for four runs in the top of the seventh as Kyle Young drove in a run with a single, while three other Mustangs scored via error.
Augustana turned the game over to its bullpen with two outs in the seventh and silenced the Mustangs for the final seven outs. Ben Heairet recorded the win, allowing five runs (none earned) over 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts. Reliever Derek Quame picked up saves in both games for the Vikings.
The Mustangs fall to 5-11-1 overall (0-2 NSIC) after the sweep, but hope to bounce back today with another twin billing with the Vikings in Sioux Falls.
SMSU000 001 2-3 6 4
Augustana100 121 X-5 9 0
SMSU-Alex Alvarez, Landon Gacke (4), Ryan Ecalbarger (6); A-Jordan Milbrath, Derek Quame (7). WP-Milbrath. LP-Alvarez. S-Quame. HR: SMSU-Steven Kremer; A-Jack Goihl. 3B: A-Jake Petersen, David Borchardt. 2B: SMSU-Nick Tillo.
SMSU 010 000 400-5 7 4
Augustana 101 140 00X-7 11 3
SMSU-Steven Wehr, Taylor Klingenberg, Dylan Shoemaker; A-Bean Heairet, Chad Becker (7), Matt Musser (8), Sam Gotham (8), Derek Quame (9). WP-Heairet. LP-Wehr. S-Quame. HR: A-Tony Viger. 2B: A-Nate Hewes, David Borchardt.