jacob belgum hannah redder
The Augustana baseball team is on pace for another record-breaking campaign after its win over St. Cloud State on April 30.
“Losing [against Minot State on April 25] kind of opened our eyes a little bit, I think, and refocused us in practice to continue to get better everyday at every part of the game,” sophomore Alex Fink said.
The team combined masterful pitching with an offense plating over eight runs per contest over their last 33 games, going 25-8 during that span.
A group of four upperclassmen— two pitchers and two players who do their damage at the plate—have spearheaded the team’s demolition of the NSIC.
Seniors Tyson Gau and Kye Winter have utilized their right arms on the mound and compiled a combined record of 11-2. Each has a k/bb ratio greater than three to one.
“Kye has probably been our best pitcher this year; his arm has been feeling good,” head coach Tim Huber said. “And Tyson is probably one of the biggest competitors on our team. Those two are really big cogs, no doubt about it.”
Sophomore Michael Letkewicz has accumulated the greatest stats of any Augustana pitcher, boasting a 6-1 record and an ERA of 3.05 while holding opposing batters beneath the Mendoza line (.200 batting average).
At the plate, senior Tony Viger and junior Jack Goihl are batting over .400. Both rank among the top five in the 16-team NSIC conference in batting. Viger and Fink lead the conference in hits, with 75 and 65 respectively.
Three other Vikings—Goihl, junior Marcus O’Neill and senior Jake Peterson, owner of a 24-game hitting streak—rank in the top ten. The trio of Viger, Fink and Goihl leads the conference in RBI.
Viger has oppressed NSIC pitching despite battling a knee injury all season. The injury may destroy Viger’s possibility of pursuing a baseball career after the season, but he leads the club in nearly every offensive category nonetheless.
“He’s always had a lot of talent, but he really stepped up this year,” Huber said. “He’s a really, really, really good college player, but that [knee injury] could hold him back from potentially getting a shot [at a professional career].”
The Vikings’ regular season concluded April 30, with the NSIC tournament commencing the following week. Coach Huber thinks this group of players has the goods to possibly appear in the NCAA tournament.
“There are some really good teams in the region, so if we don’t win the [NSIC] tournament, we’ll be right on the bubble,” Huber said. “If the guys keep playing well, we’re certainly talented enough to do it, but you still gotta play the games.”
Letkewicz said Huber’s approach to tournament play starts at practice, where focusing on the “little things” plays an important role.
“That is something Coach Huber is adamant about: us being competitors every game regardless [of] if things seem to be going our way or not,” Letkewicz said.
The Vikings postseason future is uncertain, but it seems the current school record for wins, at which the team currently sits, will almost surely be abolished. Two games remain on the regular season schedule, and only one game separates the team from establishing a new mark.