By Sam Firminhac, Athletic Communications
SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The Concordia University Baseball team picked up two conference road wins Thursday (April. 21) against Dordt. Although the Bulldog offense only managed two hits in the first game, the defense and pitching shut down the Defenders in the 3-2 win. The offense got going in the second game, which Concordia won, 15-3. The Bulldogs got stellar starting pitching from the likes of Christian Gutirerrez and Caden Bugarske.
With the pair of wins, Concordia improves to 27-12-1. They move to 16-6 in the conference and are sitting in second place in the GPAC, behind only Doane (18-2 GPAC).
“We knew when they threw their ace it was going to be a pretty tight, competitive game (one),” Dupic said. “Fortunately we were able to scratch out a few runs in the first game. Jesse (Garcia) had a big hit for us and Joey (Grabanski) had a big swing to put us in the lead. Christian did a really nice job again mixing pitches and changing speeds. That was a big one for us.
“Game two we got another good start and Keaton (Candor)’s home run really loosened things up and gave us a little breathing room. We were able to get things going after that.”
Gutierrez got the start on the mound in game one and was lights out. Gutierrez went the full seven innings, only allowing five hits and two earned runs. He struck out nine while not allowing a single walk in the contest. He improved to 5-1 on the season. Caden Bugarske got the nod for game two and was just as impressive, going six innings allowing only three hits and one earned run. Bugarske struck out 10 and only walked two. He bumped to his record to 6-3 on the season.
Offensively, a Grabanski home run (that proved to be the game winner) and a two-RBI double by Garcia were the only hits for the Bulldogs in game one. The Bulldogs knew that offense would be at a premium while up against Gyeongju Kim, who entered the day averaging more than 15 strikeouts per nine innings. Kim surrendered only one earned run while striking out eight.
The stat sheet was full in game two as Concordia pushed across 15 runs on 14 hits and three walks. Grabanski added to his RBI total while going 3-for-4 in game two. He had four RBIs on the day. Garcia also picked up another RBI in the second game and finished with three doubles for the day. Ben Berg went 2-for-4 in the capper with a home run and two RBIs. Jacob Faulk blasted a three-run, pinch-hit homer. As mentioned by Dupic, Candor surfaced with a no-doubter three-run shot that moved the lead from 3-1 to 6-1 in the fifth inning of game two. The big fly marked his ninth this season and 38th career for Candor.
The Bulldogs showed again just how exceptional they can be when marrying all facets of the game together. Said Dupic, “I think we had two errors today – one on a pickoff and one on a ground ball – so we’re moving in the right direction defensively. We have pitched better lately, so that’s really encouraging to see. I always have faith in our offense. I always feel like our offense is going to come around when we get through the lineup multiple times.”
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Saturday (April 23) while aiming to pick up the series sweep of Dordt (12-26, 8-14 GPAC). First pitch of the doubleheader is slated for 1 p.m. CT from Sioux Center, Iowa. Only six games remain in the regular season. Games three and four of the series were moved to Saturday due to the possibility of inclement weather on Friday.