SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball team entered Saturday knowing it needed to win twice and even get a little help in order to extend its season beyond the weekend. A slow start in Saturday’s game 1 with Nebraska Wesleyan (7-28, 6-14 GPAC) doomed the Bulldogs to a 9-3 loss that essentially meant the season would end at the conclusion of game 2.
Concordia rebounded to take the night cap, 11-7, to send its five seniors out with a victory in their final collegiate games. Head coach Jeremy Geidel’s squad ended the campaign at 16-30 overall and 6-14 in GPAC action.
“It was unfortunate we got that far behind,” Geidel said of the game 1 loss. “That’s just kind of the way our season’s been. Sometimes guys try to do too much and you get less out of them. We’re just glad we were able to win the second one, bounce back and send the seniors out winners.”
After falling behind 2-1 in game 2, Concordia got four runs in the bottom of the second to grab a lead it would not relinquish. Third baseman AJ Peterson, 3-for-5 in game 2, had an RBI single as part of the second-inning outburst.
The Bulldogs then got two runs apiece in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings to build a comfortable 11-3 advantage. Andrew Yerrell, who came into play red hot (10-for-12 in his last three games before Saturday), drilled a solo homer in the seventh to put an exclamation mark on his season.
“Really it was just a fire that I got from my teammates,” Yerrell said. “Knowing it was the last go round for our seniors and my teammates I just wanted to play for those guys. It felt great.”
Junior starting pitcher Will Holbrook (3-7) worked deep into game 2, tossing eight innings. He limited the Prairie Wolves to three runs (two earned) on eight hits and two walks. He struck out five. The native of Tucson, Ariz., dealt zeroes in every frame after giving up one in the second and two in the third.
Game 1 got off to a rocky start as Jordan Stirtz allowed four runs on five hits in the top of the first. Stirtz, a senior from Gretna, Neb., was chased from the contest in the third after being tagged for five more runs. Neither team scored after the third inning.
Left fielder Taylor Dudley provided a large portion of the game 1 offense, driving a sac fly to left in the first and an RBI single through the hole at short in the third. He went 2-for-2 and completed his first season as a starter with a batting average of .344.
Center fielder Camaren Gause also played his final collegiate games on Saturday. He finished the season going 1-for-7 with an RBI double on the day.
The Prairie Wolves got significant production from their 1 and 2 hitters in game 1. John Estudillo and Nick Dolson combined to go 6-for-10 with four runs and three RBIs.
Gause and Stirtz were the biggest components from a small senior class. With so many key underclassmen making up the lineup, the Bulldogs see reason for optimism in 2015.
“I’m very optimistic,” Yerrell said. “The sting that we have right now from a disappointing season is just going to fuel the guys we have coming back. The work ethic we have is tremendous. I know my teammates and I are going to get after it this offseason.”
Yerrell and fellow Santa Fe, Texas, native Daniel Wilkerson, both juniors, figure to again form the nucleus of the batting order in 2015. Yerrell completed the 2014 season with a team best .363 batting average. Wilkerson topped the Bulldogs with 41 RBIs.