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April 14, 2012

2012 Season - Vikings split with CCIW-leading North Park

Junior first baseman Grant Stewart went 5-for-8 with a home run and four RBI Staurday as Augustana split a doubleheader with league-leading North Park at Swanson Stadium/Brunner Field.

MOLINE, Ill.-Augustana came from behind in game one to get a 12-5 win over conference-leading North Park Saturday at Swanson Stadium/Brunner Field. Unfortunately, the hosts couldn't pull off the sweep, falling 9-5 in the nightcap. Junior first baseman Grant Stewart (Sterling HS, Sterling, Ill.) had five hits on the day, including his first home run of the season. Augustana moves to 17-9 on the year and 5-6 in the CCIW, while North Park is now 22-6 overall and 8-3 in the league.


Augustana trailed 4-1 after an inning and a half in the opener. After leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, they got to North Park ace Steve Kuligowski for a pair of runs in the third. Mike Barker (Centennial Colo. Grandview HS, Marina del Rey, Cal.) stroked a one-out double down the left field line and Stewart followed with a blast over the fence in left center to cut the deficit to 4-3.

After North Park scored in the top of the fifth, Stewart drove in another run with a single in the bottom of the frame to make the score 5-4.

In the sixth, freshman Brandon Jasper (Central DeWitt HS, DeWitt, Iowa) got a one-out infield hit and came around to score the tying run when the next batter, Jim Sandberg (JK Mullen HS, Littleton, Colo.), lined a hit-and-run double into the gap in left center. Kevin Serna (Rolling Meadows HS, Arlington Heights, Ill.) then singled to center to score Sandberg with the go-ahead run. The hosts weren't done. One out later, Jeremy Juhl singled to knock Kuligowski from the game. Barker drove in a run with an infield hit and after Stewart was hit by a Alex Silverthorne pitch, Kurt Schmidt (Grayslake Central HS, Grayslake, Ill.) delivered a two-run single to center to give Augustana a 9-5 lead.

The hosts added a run in the seventh and two more on a Joe Cecchi (Romeoville HS, Romeoville, Ill.) double in the eighth to account for the final score.

Meanwhile, senior Josiah Martin (Canton HS, Canton, Ill.), who came on in relief of starter Mike Trotta (Notre Dame HS, Chicago, Ill.) in the fifth, shut down North Park over the last 4 2/3 innings to get his third win in as many decisions. The only hit he allowed was a Brad Medina leadoff single in the eighth. He fanned five and walked none. Kuligowski fell to 7-2 with the loss.

The Augustana offense pounded out 17 hits in the game. Stewart and Schmidt had three each, while Juhl, Barker, Jasper and Sandberg each had a pair.


The visitors took advantage of some aggressive baserunning and some wildness by Augustana starter George Dexter (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) to score three runs in the first inning of the nightcap. Augustana answered with two in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double into the right field corner by Schmidt. However, he was picked off second to end the inning.

The pitching settled down until the North Park fourth, when Matt Rice led off with a drag bunt. Augustana pitcher Ben Heaton (Bloomington Central Catholic HS, Heyworth, Ill.), who had come on in relief in the first inning, dived to cut it off, but threw wildly to first. He then attempted to pick Rice off and the throw got away with the North Park centerfielder winding up at third base. Rice scored on a Zac Worsley sacrifice fly. North Park took advantage of another Augustana error in the inning and added three more runs to take a 7-2 lead.

Stewart drove in a run with a single in the bottom of the fifth, but North Park got it right back in the top of the sixth when catcher Tony Sanchez blasted a solo home run to left field.

Barker singled in a run in the seventh and freshman Kyle Lenihan (Romeoville HS, Romeoville, Ill.) hit his first career home run to lead off the eighth and cut the deficit to 8-5.

North Park extended the lead back to 9-5, using another Augustana miscue to plate an unearned run in the top of the ninth.

Augustana didn't go quietly in its half, loading the bases before North Park reliever Merrick McGrady got pinch-hitter Jared McIntosh to ground to second to end the game.

Barker led a 14-hit Augustana attack with four, while Stewart and Schmidt had two each.

Nick Soldano scattered 11 hits over seven innings to earn the win. Dexter suffered the loss in his first decision. McGrady earned his first save.

The teams complete the series on Sunday April 15 at noon at Swanson/Brunner.