Bulldogs drop two at Doane, slip into three-way tie for first

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 17, 2023 in Baseball

CRETE, Neb. – The race for the GPAC regular season title is heating up – and tightening up. In a key conference doubleheader on Monday (April 17), the Concordia University Baseball team fell twice at Doane, losing by scores of 6-4 and 9-2. For a change, the explosive Bulldog lineup was held in check and limited to a combined 11 hits by Tiger pitching. In another departure from the norm, Concordia was outhomered, 4-0, by rival Doane. This came a day after the Bulldogs rattled off a combined 38 runs in a doubleheader sweep of Briar Cliff.

The results leave Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s squad (29-13 overall) in a three-way tie for first place atop the GPAC standings. Concordia, Doane and Morningside each sport 15-5 league records.

“I thought they did a good job,” Dupic said of the Tiger pitchers. “We scored enough to win the first game. We pitched it pretty well until the sixth and let things get away. They executed well and got off to a big start obviously in game two. It’s tough to come back when you fall behind like that. They did a good job with their pitching and defense.”

In Monday’s first game, the Bulldogs pushed across two runs (Joey Grabanski RBI single and Alec Blakestad RBI ground out) in the top of the first and held the lead all the way until things unraveled in the bottom of the sixth. Heading into that half inning, Concordia starting pitcher Caden Johnson was cruising along with a 3-1 lead and a no-hitter. Doane’s first hit of the game was a significant one, a game-tying two-run homer by pinch-hitter Misael Cantu. The Tigers kept the line moving with Nate Menski’s two-run triple and Justin Nevells’ RBI single. Doane led at the time, 6-3.

Johnson was pulled with one out in the bottom of the sixth. He wound up allowing four runs (three earned) on two hits and a walk while striking out two. Just before Doane’s splurge, the Bulldogs had added an insurance run via Blakestad’s RBI single. Tiger game one starter Julian Vargas (six innings, three runs) picked up the win while keeping the Bulldogs’ offense contained.

In game two, Doane (29-9, 15-5 GPAC) ambushed Concordia with a seven-run second inning and quickly chased Frankie Cresta from the mound. The Bulldog bullpen of Qwin Zabokrstky (1.1 IP), Jacob Lycan (2 IP) and Daniel Rivera (1.1 IP) performed solidly, but the hole was too large. Concordia got its runs on a sac fly apiece from Jaidan Quinn and Tanner Tompkins. In addition, Teyt Johnson collected two hits and scored a run. On the other side, Joe Osborn, Lukas White and Mensik each homered.

Since the Bulldogs got the best of Doane in the 2021 GPAC tournament title game, the Tigers have won four series meetings in a row. Whichever of the 2023 GPAC championship contenders plays most consistently down the stretch will end up hoisting the trophy. Eight games remain in the regular season. Concordia’s battle-tested veteran roster won’t flinch. Said Dupic, “We’ll have to reset tomorrow and try to get ready to play a little bit better this weekend.”

The Bulldogs will be off from game action for the next four days while prepping for a four-game weekend series with Midland (18-20, 10-10 GPAC). The two sides will square off in Fremont on Saturday before shifting to Seward on Sunday. Doubleheaders are slated to get underway at 1 p.m. CT both days. Concordia took all four games from the Warriors last season.