Bulldogs batter Braves in Sunday twin bill

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 28, 2016 in Baseball

OTTAWA, Kan. – The bats have come alive for the Concordia University baseball team. On Sunday the Bulldogs totaled 36 runs on 42 hits in sweeping a doubleheader from host Ottawa University (Kan.). Sophomore first baseman Kaleb Geiger went 7-for-10 with a homer as part of the offensive onslaught that allowed Concordia to take the last three contests of the weekend’s four-game set. It won Sunday’s affairs by finals of 17-7 and 19-2.

Three-straight wins have bumped second-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad to 5-7 overall. Each of its first 12 games have been played on the home fields of Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference opponents.

There were no complaints from Dupic after Sunday’s drama-free sweep.

“I just thought we had much better habits in our approach and our processes. We came ready from the beginning of the day,” Dupic said. “We had a lot of discussion about being a more prepared team and that really carried into our day offensively. Our guys were more focused. Instead of getting ourselves out, we were patient. When we got our pitches, we didn’t miss them.”

The offensive-minded Bulldogs got multiple hits from seven different players in game 1 and then from another seven players in the series finale. Over 16 innings of play on Sunday, Concordia put together frames of five runs or more four times, including in the nine-run sixth inning of the second game.

After slow starts for some of the team’s most potent hitters, the top of the lineup scorched Ottawa on the sunny and warm late-February day. The top four hitters in Dupic’s lineup were a combined 20-for-39 (.512) with 17 runs driven in and 12 runs scored. Montero doubled his season hits total from six to 12 with a 6-for-11 day (5-for-6 in game 1). Meanwhile, Geiger supplied plenty of firepower out of the cleanup spot with a home run, two doubles and seven RBIs.

“We’ve really been searching at the top three to five spots in the order,” Dupic said. “We got some great production out of our top guys. When they were coming up it was a dangerous part of our lineup. (Alex) Alstott, (Taylor) Bigandt, Montero and Geiger provided a lot of punch for us offensively and really got the ball rolling.”

The parade of Bulldogs around the bases was a welcome sight after having been heavily victimized by strikeouts in the early going. Alstott entered the day 2-for-21 on the year, but heated up with a 4-for-10 effort on Sunday. Bigandt, fresh off a two-homer game on Saturday, went 3-for-6 in game 1 and drove in four runs on the day.

Both Concordia starting pitchers picked up wins. Lefty Taylor Bickel grinded through five innings while allowing four runs. Then in game 2, righty Neil Ryan limited the Braves to four hits and just a single run over 5.2 innings. At one point Ryan set down 10 hitters in a row. Said Dupic, “He was really crisp. He established his fastball, which was different from his first two starts.”

Though the top four of the lineup were rightfully praised, Concordia got positive results from the bottom half. Third baseman Casey Berg turned in a 6-for-9 day. Shortstop Logan Ryan went 4-for-8 and second baseman Alex Cargin collected four hits in 10 at bats. During the nine-run sixth-inning of game 2, catcher Ryan Fesmire delivered two RBI doubles as Concordia sent 14 men to the plate.

Ottawa’s starting pitchers allowed a combined 12 earned runs. The Braves (4-11) had not surrendered more than 11 runs in a game this season until the Bulldogs put up 15 in Saturday’s win and then proceeded to rack up 17 and 19 on Sunday. Concordia is now averaging 7.5 runs per game – almost a run more than it averaged in 2015 when it broke the program record for runs in a season with 289.

Dupic also made note of a much improved defensive effort on Sunday as compared to the previous day. Concordia committed just a single error in the latest doubleheader. The Bulldogs were charged with eight errors on Saturday.

The Bulldogs now look forward to a 10-game swing in Tucson, Ariz., over spring break. The slate begins with a doubleheader versus William Penn University (Iowa) on March 5. Concordia’s final game in Arizona is scheduled for March 11.