FREMONT, Neb. – The yard couldn’t hold Mason City, Iowa, native Jake Adams on Friday. His second blast of the day, a towering grand slam to left center, provided the game-winning tallies as the Concordia University baseball team moved one step closer to reaching the GPAC championship for the first time ever. The Bulldogs’ second conference tournament win in as many days came by a 6-4 final in a thrilling victory over GPAC regular-season champion and top-seeded Midland on the Warriors’ home turf.
The victory marked the first time that the Concordia baseball program has ever won more than once at a single GPAC tournament. Second-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad, bound for the championship of the Midland Bracket, improved to 28-25 overall while bumping up its school record win count.
“We made a lot of big pitches in big situations,” Dupic said. “We weren’t necessarily perfect. We walked some guys and made mistakes at times, but guys stepped up and made big pitches – every single one of them. Mark Harris was huge for almost five innings. Tanner Wauhob came in and made some huge pitches for us. It was one right after the other.”
The Bulldogs led for the majority of the day, but relinquished a 2-0 advantage and fell behind, 4-2, in the top of the eighth when Brandon Metoyer whistled a two-run shot to left off of reliever Cole Jackson. All it did was make for a more dramatic finish.
With two outs and no one on in the bottom of the eighth, Concordia loaded the bags via a single sandwiched between a pair of walks. Up to the plate stepped Adams, who had already drilled a solo homer in the third inning. The transfer from North Iowa Area Community College drove an offering from Lawrence Reese over the wall for a grand slam that sent the Bulldog dugout into a frenzy.
It was the best day yet for Adams, who doubled his season home run total and then went on to praise his teammates for the at bats they put together to set the stage for his big fly.
“First of all, the at bats in front of me were huge,” Adams said. “We had two outs and nobody on there and had guys get on base in front of me. That put the pitcher in an uncomfortable situation. I got in a plus count and I had a pretty good feeling of what pitch was coming. I put my best swing on it.”
Adams drove in five of the team’s six runs to aid a group of five pitchers used by Dupic on Friday. Mark Harris did not allow a single run through 4.2 innings while battling command issues (six walks). He gave way to Tanner Wauhob with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. Wauhob proceeded to get a crucial groundout to end the threat. Jackson wound up with the win that was sealed by Josue Melchor, who worked a mostly drama-free ninth for his fifth save.
Concordia continues to break new ground as it puts itself in the driver’s seat in the Midland Bracket. In addition to setting new records for single-season wins overall and at the GPAC tournament, the 2016 Bulldogs have busted program standards for runs scored and pitcher strikeouts in a season. They also need just one more home run to equal a program record.
Good vibes are pulsating throughout a team that has now defeated every member of the conference at least once this season.
“It’s incredible. It’s something we’ve talked about since the fall. We feel like we can do this,” Adams said. “You can see it starting to happen. Obviously we’re not there yet. We have some steps to go, but we’re excited right now.
Concordia has allowed just four runs through 18 innings of GPAC tournament action. The Warriors (38-16) came into the day ranked 14th nationally in runs per game (8.2).
Play will continue from Moller Field in Fremont on Saturday. Concordia, now 2-0 in the postseason, needs one more win to advance to the GPAC finals (May 10). First pitch on Saturday is slated for 12 p.m. in what will be an elimination game for either Midland or Northwestern. Whichever team advances must win twice on Saturday to eliminate the Bulldogs. The if-necessary game would take place at 3 p.m.