WARRENSBURG, Mo. — Trailing 7-5 in the bottom of the 11th inning, Henderson State scored three runs without putting the ball in play to walk off No. 2 seed Augustana 8-7 and stay alive at the 2021 NCAA DII Central Regional.
With the win, the Reddies (27-18) advance to face the loser of the Minnesota State and Southern Arkansas contest tomorrow at 11 a.m. The victory is the first for HSU at the NCAA Tournament since 2015.
Henderson led for almost the entire game on Saturday and held a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning, but Augustana plated three runs on four hits to swing momentum and tie it 4-4. HSU rallied and got a bases-loaded walk from Greyson Stevens in the bottom half of the inning to retake a 5-4 advantage.
Down to their final strike in the ninth, the Vikings answered on a bases-loaded walk of their own which knotted the score once again. However, Cade Tucker, who entered with runners on the corners and no outs, avoided the big inning for the Reddies, who went down in order in the bottom half to send the game into extras.
Both teams had opportunities to score in the 10th. Augustana loaded the bases with two outs against Henderson reliever Blake Patterson in the top half, but Patterson got an infield pop-up to escape with no damage done. The Reddies put two runners on with one out in their turn to hit, but could not score after a fielder’s choice and a flyout ended the threat.
The Vikings finally broke through and took their first lead of the game in the 11th frame. Augustana used three hits, including a two-run single, to seize a 7-5 advantage and push HSU to the brink of elimination.
The Reddies caught some luck in the bottom of the 11th when the Vikings removed ace reliever Caleb Kranz, who had struck out six in four innings of relief to that point. HSU immediately took advantage, as the first three batters reached base on back-to-back walks and a hit by pitch.
With the bases loaded and no one out, Augustana made its second pitching change of the inning. Logan Cowart, who entered as a defensive replacement for Henderson in the seventh, came to the plate and worked an eight-pitch walk — the third of the 11th for the Vikings — to bring a runner home and cut the lead to 7-6.
Down by a single run, HSU caught another break on the next at-bat when the Augustana hurler sent a pitch flying over the head of his catcher and into the backstop. First Team All-GAC pitcher Spencer Taack, who had been inserted to pinch run, took advantage and slid home to tie the game at 7-7.
Suddenly in a tie game with still no outs accounted for, the Vikings intentionally walked Bryson Haskins and went to their third pitcher of the inning, who entered cold out of the bullpen to face Henderson freshman Corbin Tsistinas.
On the first pitch of the at-bat with the bases loaded, Tsistinas was plunked squarely on the shoulder to set off the celebration for HSU and win the game for the Reddies on a walk-off hit by pitch. In the final half-inning, Henderson had six-straight batters reach safely without recording a hit. Augustana’s last three pitchers each failed to record a single out.
Patterson, a sixth-year senior, got the win for the Reddies in relief. He pitched the final two innings and gave up two runs on five hits. Henderson starter Matthew Baker was phenomenal and surrendered one run on four hits in five-plus innings while striking out five. Both Tucker and Brayden Bebee pitched on back-to-back days out of the bullpen for HSU and did not allow a hit in two combined frames.
Haskins led Henderson at the plate and finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and two walks. Josh Aguilar also recorded three hits for the Reddies, while Danny Mitchell Jr. had two hits and scored two runs.