SEWARD, Neb. – The GPAC championship season will continue into the opening round of the national championships for the Concordia University baseball team. On Thursday (May 11), the Bulldogs learned that they had been assigned to the Hutchinson Bracket, hosted by Tabor College (Kan.) in Hutchinson, Kan. As the No. 5 seed in the bracket, Concordia will take Hobart Detter Field at 11 a.m. CT on Monday (May 15) and play a familiar foe in fourth-seeded University of Jamestown (N.D.).
Members of the team gathered inside the lecture hall of the science building on the Concordia campus to watch Thursday afternoon’s selection show. Lots of wide grins appeared when Concordia’s name came up on the screen.
“They were all gossiping and couldn’t wait to see where we were headed,” said GPAC Coach of the Year Ryan Dupic. “That kind of excitement is a really awesome thing to see. You can just tell how much they’re looking forward to the opportunity and the chance to continue to go play. Little moments like that are fun to see.”
This will be a completely new experience for almost everyone associated with the Bulldog baseball program. Concordia is making its first ever trip to the national tournament. As the pitching coach at Buena Vista University for seven seasons, Dupic helped the Beavers make NCAA Division III national tournament appearances three times, including a 2011 World Series berth.
Dupic wants to keep the type of workmanlike approach that has allowed the Bulldogs to win 10 of their last 12 games during a stretch run that locked up the program’s first conference championship since 1986.
“You have to stay the same and continue to be who you are,” Dupic said. “You also have to respond well to failure. We’re going to see some good players and some good teams there. You have to be able to focus on yourself, play the next pitch and continue to compete. You can’t afford to get in your own way.”
The Hutchinson Bracket will be a difficult one to navigate. It includes three teams ranked in the top 15 of the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll: No. 6 Clarke University (Iowa), No. 9 Missouri Baptist University and No. 13 Tabor College. Those three teams are the top three seeds in the pod. The 45-team national qualifying field consists of 30 automatic qualifiers – given to conference regular-season champions, tournament champions or tournament runners-up – and 15 at-large teams. Conferences with 10-or-more members received two automatic qualifiers, while leagues with less than 10 are given one.
The opening round consists of a double-elimination format. Top-seeded Clarke has a bye and will play the winner between Concordia and Jamestown at 6 p.m. CT on Monday. The team that emerges from the pod will advance to in the Avista NAIA World Series, held May 26 – June 2 in Lewiston, Idaho.
What the Bulldogs are saying …
I knew Coach Dupic when he was at BV and he’s a great guy. Knowing him and knowing what he’s about made it a lot easier to come here. He sold us on a vision, which is a tough thing for some of us. You get sold on a vision and you think about, ‘all right, let’s make it happen.’ To see it come to fruition is a pretty cool thing for all of us.
It’s been awesome. It’s a vision that we talked about. It can get frustrating sometimes to talk about things and not actually get to do it. We set these goals and we were able to go out and accomplish them. With the year that Coach Dupic has had, it’s been awesome to do it this year.
It's going to be a tough game. They have a very good pitcher. I’m sure we’ll probably see him. He shut us down twice already. It would be good to get a third shot at him. As a hitter going back to face a pitcher a third time, you know what he’s going to throw. Hopefully we can make the adjustments.
It was a lot of fun. Originally I didn’t think we were going to be too excited about it (seeing the selection show) but once it happens and your name gets called, it’s pretty exciting. This is happening. We get to go play some good teams and we’re all really excited about that.
We’re definitely on the rise right now. Special things are happening at Concordia and I believe they’ll happen for a very long time after us seniors leave. The program is definitely on the rise.
It’s just been about having fun. In practice we’re playing carefree. In the games we’re playing carefree. We’re going to go down there and have fun and win some baseball games. That’s the goal all season. You have fun with your brothers and enjoy it while it lasts.
The national tournament is something I’ve never experienced. It’s really exciting. It’s just great to be with the guys, be together and have that excitement before we really get rolling and focus on how to beat Jamestown. It’s nice to have this moment to be excited.
It’s been a combination of things (in regards to personal improvement). Coach Dupic has really changed this program. He has changed it from a team that tried to a team expected greatness and a team expects a lot out of itself. That’s something really special. Obviously he’s great working individually with players. He’s really helped me to do what I do well. That’s been a big factor – his ability to handle pitchers and handle players.
I keep telling people that we could have a movie just about this. It’s awesome the way he’s led this team in spite of what he’s been experiencing. Our team has come together and has bonded. How we’ve handled ourselves, I think, has been an incredible story. It’s something I’ll carry with me the rest of my life. It’s something that has made the experience all the richer considering his condition.
May 15-18 | Hobart-Detter Field/Rice Field | Hutchinson, Kan.
Hosted by Tabor (Kan.)
1. Clarke (Iowa)
2. Missouri Baptist
3. Tabor (Kan.)
4. Jamestown (N.D.)
5. Concordia (Neb.)
Monday, May 15
Game 1: 11 a.m. – No. 4 Jamestown (N.D.) vs. No. 5 Concordia (Neb.)
Game 2: 2:30 p.m. – No. 2 Missouri Baptist vs. No. 3 Tabor (Kan.)
Game 3: 6 p.m. – No. 1 Clarke (Iowa) vs. Winner Game 1
Tuesday, May 16
Game 4: 11 a.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 5: 2:30 p.m. – Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3
Game 6: 6 p.m. – Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
Wednesday, May 17
Game 7: 3 p.m. – Loser Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6
Game 8: 6 p.m. – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 7
Thursday, May 18
Game 9: 1 p.m. – Winner Game 8 vs. Loser Game 8