SEWARD, Neb. – One of the rewards for earning the No. 1 seed in the GPAC is the opportunity to host one of two pods for this week’s conference tournament. The Concordia University Baseball program will welcome No. 4 Morningside, No. 5 Briar Cliff and No. 8 Hastings to Plum Creek Park in Seward. Each squad will take part in the Concordia Bracket double-elimination pod in action set to run Thursday through Saturday (May 6-8).
2021 GPAC Tournament – Concordia Bracket
May 6-8 | Plum Creek Park (Seward, Neb.)
--Live Webcasts/Stats (available for all games with a cost of $10/day)
Thursday, May 6
Game 1 – (4) Morningside vs. (5) Briar Cliff, 12 p.m.
Game 2 – (1) Concordia vs. (8) Hastings, 3 p.m.
Friday, May 7
Game 3 – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 9 a.m.
Game 4 – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 12 p.m.
Game 5 – Game 4 Winner vs. Game 3 Loser, 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 8
Game 6 – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 12 p.m.
Game 7 – Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser, 3 p.m. (if necessary)
Fan attendance: Fans are allowed to attend the games at Plum Creek Park and are encouraged to wear face coverings when not able to maintain physical distancing from other family groups. Admission is $10 for adults/senior citizens and $3 for K-12. Only those with NAIA passes and GPAC student ID’s will be admitted free of charge.
By the numbers
· When Head Coach Ryan Dupic arrived in Seward prior to the 2015 season, the Bulldog Baseball program had not won a conference title since 1986. The drought ended in 2017 when Concordia captured the GPAC regular season championship for the first time ever. GPAC title Nos. 2 and 3 have quickly followed (2019 and 2021) for a program that has built a strong reputation under Dupic’s direction. The 2021 Bulldogs enter the GPAC tournament with an opportunity to accomplish something the program has still not done – win the conference postseason title. The 2017 and 2019 teams lost in GPAC tournament championship games.
· One more victory would re-set the school standard for wins in a single season. At 34-9 overall (21-7 GPAC), Concordia has equaled the ’17 team (34-22) for the program wins record. The ’19 squad (33-20) also surpassed the 30-win mark. During the 2017, 2019 and 2021 seasons, the Bulldogs have posted respective GPAC records of 19-9, 23-5 and 21-7. Over seven seasons, Dupic has compiled an overall record of 194-125 (97-57 GPAC).
· It’s safe to say that no Concordia freshman has ever enjoyed a finer season at the plate than Joey Grabanski. With four RBIs at Dakota Wesleyan on Sunday, Grabanski has broken the school record for RBIs in a single season with 52. The previous program standard was 51 RBIs by Jarrod Pimentel in 2000. The slugger from Grand Forks, N.D., had already shattered the program single-season home run record with 16. Among GPAC players, Grabanski ranks first in home runs, first in total baes per game (2.72), third in slugging percentage (.755), third in RBIs (52), ninth in batting average (.374) and 19th in on base percentage (.422).
· The school record for hits in a single season could also be broken soon. Leadoff hitter Jayden Adams has racked up 69 hits, three shy of the record of 72 set by Casey Berg in 2017. Adams continues to lead all GPAC players with a batting average of .442. He also tops the league in runs scored (58) and hits per game (1.60) while ranking fifth in on base percentage (.497). In addition, three Bulldogs now have 10 or more homers this season: Grabanski (16), Jesse Garcia (11) and Keaton Candor (10). Garcia and Candor have reached 26 career homers (one away from the program career record).
· Jake Fosgett has a chance at GPAC Pitcher of the Year accolades. He tossed six shutout innings, allowing only two hits and a walk while striking out nine in his start at Hastings last week. The Carlsbad, Calif., native’s numbers within the conference have been eye-popping – a 6-0 record with a 1.38 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. Another reliable arm in the rotation, Nick Little has run his career wins total to 25, tying the program record he now shares with Jim Juergensen (1959-61).
Concordia Bracket opponents
(4) Morningside – The Mustangs (25-28, 16-12 GPAC) ended conference play on a high note, taking three of four (including a 15-inning game) from crosstown rival Briar Cliff while leapfrogging the Chargers in the GPAC standings. During the final week of the regular season, Morningside also split a doubleheader at Concordia that could have easily been a sweep (Grabanski hit a walk-off homer in game 1). Hunter Hope has enjoyed a fine season at the plate and is hitting .332 with 21 extra base hits (.515 slugging percentage). Out of the bullpen, Quintin Holman sports a 1.21 ERA in 14 appearances. In conference play, the Mustangs have outscored their opponents, 172-168.
(5) Briar Cliff – The Chargers (32-18, 15-13) made a significant jump forward this spring after going 7-13 during the shortened 2020 campaign. Briar Cliff has a true ace in Jacob Wesselmann, who is 7-1 with a 2.59 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 73 innings. Most impressively, Wesselmann did not allow a single earned run in starts against the league’s top two offensive teams – Concordia and Doane. While the pitching staff has been solid, the Chargers have averaged just 4.7 runs per game within the GPAC. Jake Allen leads the team with 11 homers.
(8) Hastings – After going 6-21 in league play in 2019, the Broncos (13-29, 11-17 GPAC) took a step in the right direction this spring. A highlight of the season was taking three of four over Morningside in the middle of April. Camden Brichacek is hitting .341 and is representative of a team that plays small ball (.346 team slugging percentage). It’s worth noting that Race Traynor (two earned runs in seven innings) pitched solidly when up against the Bulldogs on April 30.
GPAC Championship Game
The winners that emerge from the Concordia and Doane Brackets will meet in a winner-take-all GPAC championship game on Tuesday, May 11. The highest remaining seed will host the title game. The tournament champion earns an automatic bid to the national tournament. Concordia has locked up its spot in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round by grabbing the GPAC’s No. 1 seed.