SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball team again watched early leads melt away as it began the conference season by dropping a pair of games to visiting Briar Cliff on Saturday afternoon. The Chargers (9-15, 2-0 GPAC) won a tight 7-5 contest in game 1 before running away with a 15-4 victory in the capper.
Head coach Jeremy Geidel’s Bulldogs, who had not played since last Sunday, fell for the third and fourth-straight times. Concordia is 10-16 overall.
“It’s frustrating. It’s obviously very similar to last week,” Geidel said. “We’ve been trying to work on our defense and getting a lead and holding a lead. It’s one thing to go against the opponent and battle and it’s another to be hurting yourself.”
In each of Concordia’s last four last losses it has held early advantages. Center fielder Camaren Gause pushed Concordia to a 3-2 lead with a missile over the left field wall for a two-run homer. The Bulldogs held a lead as large as 4-2 in game 1 and got up 2-0 in the first inning of game 2.
A nightmare inning doomed Concordia in both games against the Chargers, who piled up four runs in the sixth frame of game 1 and eight runs in the seventh inning of the second contest. Briar Cliff first baseman Jake Erichsen homered twice during the eight-run seventh, during which he put a huge exclamation mark on his day with a grand slam to left.
The Chargers, who had lost five in a row entering the weekend, pounded out a combined 27 hits (18 in game 2) to take advantage of another shaky defensive effort by the Bulldogs. Concordia committed three errors in both ends of the twin bill.
On a positive note, Gause busted out of his slump with his bullet of a home run. He went 1-for-3 with three RBIs and three walks on the day. In addition, Daniel Wilkerson went 4-for-8 with three RBIs in the doubleheader. Leadoff hitter Alex Cargin was 3-for-4 with a run in game 2.
“I like our approaches at the plate,” Geidel said. “I like the way the guys are swinging it. It was good to see Gause give us the lead midway through the first game. That was encouraging to see. I think there’s a lot to build on offensively. We have to give credit to Briar Cliff too. They hit the ball pretty well.”
Not only did Wilkerson continue his hot hitting, he also stole a base in each game to give him 11 thefts on the season. His previous career high was four stolen bases.
Concordia starters Will Holbrook and Bryce Rone took were both tagged with losses. Holbrook held up well in game 1 until Briar Cliff’s four-run sixth. The Tucson, Ariz., native ended up allowing six runs (three earned) on seven hits in 5.2 innings.
Remarkably, the top six hitters in the Briar Cliff lineup all had two hits or more in game two. Erichsen went 4-for-6 with two homers and six RBIs. Matt Boswell and Matt Fiechtner both went 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs.
Concordia will hope to flush Saturday’s frustrations down the drain when it returns to action on Sunday.
“I believe it’s one of the hardest collegiate sports there is to play because you have to play two games in a day and then you have to turn around the next day regardless of the results the previous day,” Geidel said. “There is no rest or relaxation.
“They determine what happens tomorrow by their effort and their attitude.”
The Bulldogs remain at home on Sunday for another doubleheader matinee. Concordia and Dakota Wesleyan (15-9, 1-1 GPAC) will get started at 1 p.m. The Tigers split a twin bill with Nebraska Wesleyan on Saturday.