2022 Concordia Bracket Preview and Tournament Info

By Jacob Knabel on May. 3, 2022 in Baseball

SEWARD, Neb. – For the third-straight season and for the fourth time in the past five seasons, the Concordia University Baseball program will host one of two four-team pods of the GPAC tournament. As the No. 2 seed, the Bulldogs will welcome third-seeded Mount Marty, sixth-seeded Briar Cliff and seventh-seeded Northwestern to Plum Creek Park in Seward. Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s program is the reigning GPAC postseason champion. Play will get underway on Saturday with four games. The action was twice postponed due to persistent rain and wet field conditions.

2022 GPAC Tournament – Concordia Bracket
--Full Bracket

May 7, 9 | Plum Creek Park (Seward, Neb.)
--Live Webcasts/Stats (available for all games with a cost of $10/day)

Saturday, May 7
Game 1 – (3) Mount Marty vs. (6) Briar Cliff, 11 a.m.
Game 2 – (2) Concordia vs. (7) Northwestern, 1:30 p.m.
Game 3 – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 4 p.m.
Game 4 – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, May 9
Game 5 – Game 4 Winner vs. Game 3 Loser, 12 p.m.
Game 6 – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 2:30 p.m.
Game 7 – Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser, 5 p.m. (if necessary)

Admission: 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

·        Concordia has earned the GPAC’s No. 2 seed after putting together a 20-8 record within conference play. Excluding 2020 when no postseason was held due to COVID-19, the Bulldogs are set to host a GPAC tournament pod for the third-straight season and for the fourth time in five seasons. In each of the previous three instances as a bracket host, Concordia has made it through to the GPAC tournament final. The Bulldogs finished as the conference postseason runner up in 2017 and 2019 and then won the GPAC tournament title in 2021. It marked the first conference tournament championship in program history.

·        During Dupic’s tenure (2015 season to the present), Concordia has been the GPAC’s premier program. Consider that in that stretch, the Bulldogs lead all GPAC baseball programs in overall wins (233), GPAC regular season wins (117), overall winning percentage (.621), conference winning percentage (.650) and total GPAC championships (four). In addition to the 2021 conference tournament title, Concordia seized GPAC regular season crowns in 2017, 2019 and 2021. Prior to Dupic’s arrival, the program had not won a conference championship since 1986. In 2015, the program ended a drought without a winning overall record that had lasted since 1979.

·        One of the program’s all-time greats, Keaton Candor continues to pad his career totals as his college career starts to wind down. Last week, he passed Christian Meza for No. 2 on the program’s all-time hits list with 219. Candor has begun to creep up on the school record of 234 hits by Zak Goodrich. Candor is the program career record holder for games played (211), runs scored (159), home runs (42), RBIs (175) and walks (104). On the season, Candor has produced a .338 batting average with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs. He’s tied a career high for most homers in a single season and needs four more RBIs for a career high in that category.

·        The chase for the team home run lead remains tight heading into the postseason. Jaidan Quinn took over the lead this past week while running his season total to 14. Hot on his heels are Candor (13), Joey Grabanski (13) and Jay Adams (12). It’s been a fine first season in Bulldog blue for Quinn, who sports an otherworldly OPS (on-base + slugging) of 1.248. Quinn is the team leader in on-base percentage (.517) and slugging percentage (.731). A native of Bonner Springs, Kan., Quinn transferred to Concordia after one year at Wabash Valley College. After batting seventh in the order for much of this season, Quinn has recently been moved up to the No. 2 spot.

·        The offense commands a lot of attention with the particularly gaudy numbers it has produced in 2021 and 2022, but the pitching staff played a major role in Concordia going 8-2 in its final 10 games of the regular season. As of late, La Mirada, Calif., native Christian Gutierrez has had the hot hand. In last week’s four-game series at Briar Cliff, Gutierrez threw 6.2 innings and allowed only one run on three hits (no walks) while striking out four. Over his last three starts, Gutierrez has surrendered just four total runs in 20.2 innings (two complete games).

·        Interestingly, each of the Bulldogs’ main four starting pitchers have collected exactly six wins apiece. That group includes Alex Johnson (6-1, 2.23 ERA), Caden Johnson (6-1, 2.98 ERA), Gutierrez (6-1, 4.53 ERA) and Caden Bugarske (6-3, 4.58 ERA). Strong pitching over the past few weeks has lowered Concordia’s team ERA within conference play to 4.58 (No. 3 in the GPAC). In conference games only, the Bulldog offense led the league in home runs (56), walks (142), on-base percentage (.447) and slugging percentage (.583) while ranking second in both runs scored (246) and batting average (.328). Overall this season, the Concordia offense has accumulated 84 home runs (six shy of the school record set in 2021).

Concordia Bracket opponents

(3) Mount Marty (35-14, 19-9 GPAC) – The Lancers enter postseason play having split a doubleheader at Midland on Tuesday. Mount Marty slots into the No. 3 seed in the GPAC for the second year in a row. Head Coach Andy Bernatow’s squad mixes a nice balance between pitching and hitting. During GPAC regular season play, the Lancers ranked second in the GPAC in ERA (3.79) and fourth in the conference in runs scored (178). Catcher Billy Hancock stands out as one of the top players in the GPAC. He’s hitting .358 with a .476 on-base percentage and .768 slugging percentage. The team’s top pitchers have been Clayton Chipchase (6-3, 2.37 ERA) and Myles Brown (6-2, 2.48 ERA). Mount Marty’s one GPAC tournament title came in 2012. It also won the conference regular season championship in 2010.

(6) Briar Cliff (27-19, 15-13 GPAC) – The Chargers are back in the Concordia Bracket for the second year in a row. Briar Cliff went 15-13 in conference play in both 2021 and 2022 while under the direction of Head Coach Corby McGlauflin. The Chargers and Bulldogs split a four-game series last week as the regular season concluded. Briar Cliff ranks near the middle of the GPAC pack within league play in runs scored (sixth) and ERA (sixth). Jacob Wesselmann (3.34 ERA, 64 K in 59.1 IP) heads a solid starting staff. Meanwhile, freshman Cam Riemer has been an impact newcomer while hitting 11 homers and slugging .669 on the season. The Charger program is one of the few in the GPAC that has ever reached the NAIA World Series. Briar Cliff accomplished that feat in 2005.

(7) Northwestern (20-25, 12-16 GPAC) – The Red Raiders will return to Seward after playing a four-game series at Plum Creek Park in late March (three of four won by Concordia). Northwestern is one of only two teams in the GPAC to win a game over the conference’s top two seeds during the regular season. Head Coach Brian Wede led the program to a sweep of GPAC regular season and postseason titles in 2018 when it also appeared in the opening round of the national tournament. A notable absence from the 2022 postseason roster is standout Kip Cullinan, who has not played since April 2. During league games, the Red Raiders posted a team ERA of 5.30 and averaged 5.0 runs per game.

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 10 (time TBA). The highest remaining seed will host the title game. The tournament champion earns on automatic bid to the national tournament. As the regular season champion, Doane has locked up one of the league’s two automatic bids to nationals. If Doane happens to win the postseason title as well, the second bid would go to the Bulldogs as the regular season runner up.