BELLEVUE, Neb. – It wasn’t their day. The Concordia University Baseball team was held without an extra base hit on Monday (May 16) while being stymied by the pitching of Judson University (Ill.) as part of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round at the Bellevue Bracket. The fifth-seeded Eagles followed the lead of righty hurdler Brandon Callender while defeating the fourth-seeded Bulldogs, 5-1. Concordia got its only run on an RBI single by Joey Grabanski.
Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s squad (36-16-1) will face elimination on Tuesday at Don Roddy Field in Bellevue, Neb. The Bulldogs are in the midst of their fourth all-time national tournament appearance.
“Their pitcher did a really nice job of pounding away and throwing a good breaking ball,” Dupic said. “Our guys got a little bit in-between at some points and were off balance. We couldn’t quite get it going. We had a good situation in that one inning and couldn’t get the big hit. Their guy pitched a good ballgame.”
Judson’s Tommy Moran belted a solo homer to left in the second inning and the Eagles held the lead the rest of the way. The most significant sequence may have come in the bottom of the fourth when Concordia squandered a bases-loaded, no-out situation. Callender notched two strikeouts and a flyout to left to end the threat.
Judson (22-28) tacked onto its lead with two runs apiece in the fifth and sixth innings. It took until the seventh before the Bulldogs broke up the shutout via Grabanski’s 64th RBI of the season. The Eagles went to the bullpen after Callender navigated seven innings, allowing one run on six hits and two walks. He also recorded five strikeouts.
Concordia went with Caden Johnson on the mound. He sailed along quite smoothly until running into trouble in the fifth. Johnson covered 4.2 innings and surrendered three runs on three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts. Out of the bullpen, Nathan Buckallew took care of the final 4.1 innings and conceded two runs on five hits and a walk. The Urbandale, Iowa, native fanned four hitters.
The task now will be a tall one for the Bulldogs, who have hopes of making a run at an NAIA World Series appearance for the second year in a row. It will take five-straight elimination game wins to make that happen. All Concordia will do is try to get the next one and go from there. The Bulldogs are plenty capable of getting hot offensively. They entered the national tournament with a program record 100 home runs on the season.
Said Dupic, “There’s not a lot to say. We’ve played 50-some games now and most of the lessons have been learned by now. At some point you just have to go play – and play well if you’re going to go make a run. We have to play a lot better than we did today. Sometimes it’s not as complicated as coaches make it out to be. At the end of the day, they played well and we didn’t play very well. Hopefully we can play better tomorrow.”
Grabanski finished with two hits on Monday. A hit apiece was contributed by Jay Adams, Teyt Johnson, Ty Nekoliczak and Jaidan Quinn. Nekoliczak scored the lone Bulldog run.
Concordia will play second-seeded Central Methodist University (Mo.) (42-13) at 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday. The winner of that morning contest will move on and play at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in another elimination game. The full bracket schedule and links to live coverage can be found HERE.