Bulldogs set for Easter week grind

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 14, 2019 in Baseball

SEWARD, Neb. – It was an opportune time for a Sunday off day after the Concordia University baseball team battled Jamestown for 21 innings on Saturday in a matchup between the squads holding down the top two spots in the GPAC standings. With 10 league games remaining, each one carries plenty of weight for the first place Bulldogs, who are hoping to protect a three-game lead (as of Sunday afternoon). Head coach Ryan Dupic’s program captured a GPAC regular season title in 2017.

This Week

Monday, April 15 vs. Morningside (19-10, 9-6) – DH
4 p.m. | Plum Creek Park | Seward, Neb.
Links: Webcast | Stats

Tuesday, April 16 at York College (21-14) – 1x9
5:30 p.m. | Levitt Stadium | York, Neb.
Link: Webcast

Thursday, April 18 at Northwestern (15-19, 9-9) – DH
4 p.m. | on campus field | Orange City, Iowa
Links: Webcast/Stats

Friday, April 19 at Northwestern (15-19, 9-9) – DH
1 p.m. | on campus field | Orange City, Iowa
Links: Webcast/Stats

This week will be another one that tests the depth of Dupic’s pitching staff with seven games scheduled over a five-day stretch. Thankfully, Dupic has a strong pitching staff to lean upon. The latest gem was tossed by junior lefty Jason Munsch, who struck out a career high 16 hitters in a 3-2 victory over Jamestown. In conference games only, Concordia (23-12, 16-2 GPAC) owns a remarkable team ERA of 1.82. In his four starts against GPAC opponents, Munsch is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 27 innings. In conference play, Jared Schipper (1.38), Jake Fosgett (1.71), Lukas Diehm (1.80), Tanner Wauhob (2.25) and Sasha Jabusch (3.13) all own impressive ERA’s.

The strikeout rate has been particularly eye popping for Munsch and company. Among all NAIA pitchers, Munsch ranks fifth (14.24) and Fosgett ranks 11th (13.50) in terms of most strikeouts per nine innings. Out of the bullpen, ace reliever Dylan DuRee has racked up 21 strikeouts over 20 innings. The staff strikeout rate per nine innings stands at 10.35. That rate puts the Bulldogs in good position to break the school team single season strikeout record that has been reset numerous times during Dupic’s tenure. The current record stands at 382 by the 2018 squad.

At the plate, Concordia has gotten its most consistent output out of the top two players in the lineup: right fielder Wade Council and second baseman Christian Meza. Both Council and Meza cranked out four hits in the 14-inning marathon loss to Jamestown on Saturday. While doing so, Meza pushed his career hit total to 197. Meza is on the verge of joining Zak Goodrich (234 career hits from 2009-12) as the only players in program history with 200 or more career hits. On the season, Meza is batting .353 while Council is hitting .339. Both players sport on-base percentages north of .400 and slugging percentages better than .500.

Morningside was in action Sunday at Doane after having more than a week between games. The Mustangs entered the day leading the GPAC in batting average (.306) while ranking third in the league in runs scored per game (6.07). It’s not an overwhelmingly powerful team, but Morningside employs five regulars with batting averages better than .300, led by Carter Kratz (.378). The team’s most called upon starting pitcher has been Aaron Homme (4-2, 5.23 ERA in nine starts).

For the second week in a row, the Bulldogs are set to play York in a nonconference nine-inning game, this time at York. Last week’s contest turned into an opportunity for players on both sides who might not normally see action in conference games. The Panthers (21-14) took an 8-2 decision in an ugly game. York has had a well-respected program that has made regular trips to the national tournament in recent years.

Prior to the Easter holiday, Concordia and Northwestern will engage in a four-game series in Orange City, Iowa. The Red Raiders are the defending GPAC regular season and tournament champions, but have slid back to a crowded middle of the pack in the conference this season. Northwestern’s Austin Zylstra has been one of the league’s most dependable offensive players while sporting a slash line of .387/.493/.566 this season. As a team, the Red Raiders have drilled 26 homers. On the flip side, Northwestern has allowed 216 runs over 246.2 innings.

If all games are played as scheduled this week, the Bulldogs will be down to just a four-game home series (April 26-27) with Dordt left on the regular season calendar.