TUCSON, Ariz. – The spring break road trip in Tucson, Ariz., began on Saturday (March 2) for the Concordia University baseball team, which began the 2019 season a week earlier in Oklahoma City. The Bulldogs got the Tucson Invitational started by pummeling Dakota Wesleyan, 16-1, before dropping a 4-3 decision at the hands of NCAA Division II Concordia University, St. Paul. CUNE departed by bus on Thursday in preparation for the invite.
Fifth-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad now stands at 2-4 overall in what has been a challenging early season slate. The Bulldogs also own a win over eighth-ranked Oklahoma City University.
“When you come down here out of the gate playing in Tucson it’s so beautiful it’s hard not to be ready to play,” Dupic said. “I thought the guys did a really good job offensively. We got it going right away in that first game. We just put some good at bats together, stayed patient, drew a lot of walks and had some guys get some big swings.”
Five CUNE players collected exactly two hits as part of the outburst in the Tucson opener. Christian Meza drove in five runs while belting one of the team’s three home runs. Meza belted a three-run bomb while Keaton Candor and Evan Bohman both added two-run blasts. The Bulldogs had pretty much put the game away by the end of the third inning when they led 13-0. CUNE pounded out 14 hits and took nine walks while keeping the merry-go-round spinning.
Transfer Sasha Jabusch put together another solid performance while making the second start of his Bulldog career on the mound. He worked around four hits and four walks to limit the Tigers to one run in a winning effort. Jabusch struck out five hitters. Treyton Nixon and Lukas Diehm both worked a scoreless inning in relief of Jabusch.
One rough inning cost CUNE in the night cap. Bulldog starting pitcher Jason Munsch fanned seven hitters but walked two in a four-run fourth inning for the Bears, who took advantage of two Bulldog errors. Munsch was chased from the game in the fourth. He went 3.2 innings. Only one of the four runs he allowed were earned.
It was a big day for Bohman, who went 4-for-8 with two RBIs. Meza knocked in five runs in the win over Dakota Wesleyan. In that first game, Bohman, Beau Dorman, Wade Council, Luciano DePamphilis and Logan Ryan recorded two hits apiece. Out of the cleanup spot, Jesse Garcia enjoyed a 3-for-8, two-RBI day.
Saturday’s evening clash marked the season opener for Concordia St. Paul. The Golden Bears are coming off a 26-16 season in 2018. The Bulldogs went up against CSP ace pitcher Louie Varland, who struck out eight hitters in five innings of work.
“He’s really good,” Dupic said. “He’s probably upper 80s into 90s. I thought we competed really well and had some good at bats. We just had one inning get away from us. We walked two guys and had two plays we should have made. We’re not happy to be on the losing side, but I’m really glad we’re playing a team like that. They’re a good quality ball club. It’s good for us to be in a tight ballgame like that. I can see us betting better.”
The 12-game swing at the Tucson Invitational will continue on Sunday with a doubleheader versus Waldorf University (Iowa). First pitch is set for 3 p.m. MT / 4 p.m. CT. The games will be played on Field 7 at the Kino Sports Complex.