Baseball falls a run short in opening games of Tucson trip
By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant
TUCSON, Ariz. – Escaping the harsh winter of the Midwest, the Concordia Bulldogs began their spring break road trip of 10 games in Tucson, Ariz. Despite a solid day at the plate, the Bulldogs fell just one run short in each of their first two matchups, losing to Southwest Minnesota State University, 7-6, and to Wheaton College, 9-8, on Saturday night.
Concordia came out hot and swinging against Southwest Minnesota State, starting the game with a double by junior third baseman Andrew Yerrell. Junior Daniel Wilkerson followed suit with a single to left field, bringing in Yerrell for the first score of the game. Senior Cameron Gause later tripled, and after the damage had been done, the Bulldogs had an early 2-0 advantage.
The lead wouldn’t hold long, however, as Southwest Minnesota State’s Patrick Rients answered with a two run shot over the outfield fence to both even up the score and give the Mustangs all the momentum they needed.
Two innings later, with the Bulldogs down 5-2, a Taylor Dudley double brought home Yerrell to bring the game within reach at 5-3. One batter later, junior Zach Cambier’s ground out brought in Wilkerson, and brought the Bulldogs within one run.
After another Mustang run extended the lead to 6-4, the Bulldogs went right back to work in a somewhat chaotic sixth inning. It started with two straight Bulldogs earning bases after being hit by pitches. A Mustang relief pitcher was brought in only to throw a wild pitch, moving two Bulldogs into scoring position. Andrew Yerrell’s ground out brought in junior Cole Stuerke. Then Wilkerson’s single to left-center scored sophomore Alex Cargin, evening up the score at six apiece.
Junior Will Holbrook (1-2) took the loss, despite 5.2 strong innings in which he gave up four runs, a walk, and fanned eight Mustangs.
Southwest Minnesota State answered once again with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth. The bulldogs had one final breath in them when Wilkerson doubled to center to begin the ninth inning, but it was not to be as the next three Bulldogs went down swinging.
The Bulldogs played a tight game early, until Wheaton stormed to a 4-0 lead, using a double and a single as well as two Bulldog miscues to get on the board.
Not to be outdone, Concordia answered with vengeance, as Yerrell, Wilkerson, Gause and Dudley combined for four straight singles to bring in two runs, and the scored to 4-2.
Wheaton answered their next time up, however, scoring four more runs in the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, it was the Bulldog’s turn to take advantage of the Thunder errors, as Yerrell and Wilkerson, who each singled in their at bats, were able to score on Wheaton’s mistakes. Freshman Tyler Nelson flied out to bring in to bring home Gause, and bringing the score to 8-5. In the next inning, Concordia was able to add another run when Wilkerson hit a sacrifice fly to score Stuerke.
Wheaton scored their final run in the top of the ninth, and it would be all they needed to top the Bulldogs, despite a comeback effort that fell just short on the side of Concordia.
After Freshman Ryan Fesmire walked with the bases loaded, scoring Dudley, Cargin hit a sacrifice fly to score Cambier. It would be all the Bulldogs could muster, however, as they dropped their second game of the doubleheader.
The Bulldogs will face the University of Jamestown on Sunday at 5 p.m. CST (3 p.m. in Tucson).