SEWARD, Neb. – The blood pressure of Bulldog fans may have risen the past couple of days, but members of this Concordia University baseball team never seem phased. If you can believe it, a lightning delay of nearly one hour seemed to come at just the right time for the Bulldogs, who rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Doane, 6-4, on day three of GPAC tournament action on Saturday (May 4).
Fifth-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad went 3-0 the past few days to advance out of the Concordia Bracket pod and into the conference postseason championship game. The eighth-seeded and upset-minded Tigers (20-30) would have had to defeat the Bulldogs (32-17; 6-0 vs. Doane) twice to keep their own season alive.
“I didn’t say a word (to the guys),” Dupic said of his actions during the delay that occurred with Doane leading 4-0. “To be honest, their pitcher was rolling. He was fantastic. Obviously the delay hurt them and hurt his rhythm. That was clearly a break for us. To the guys’ credit, they took advantage of it and were able to get some big swings off and have some good at bats.”
Dupic admits that his team did not play an all-around crisp game. Concordia committed four errors and made starting pitcher Jake Fosgett work harder than he should have had to during a three-run Tiger fifth inning. On the flip side, Brady McMurray made only his fourth start this season for Doane and had Concordia hitters looking perplexed through the first seven frames.
Following the lightning delay, play resumed in the top of the eighth. McMurray did not look like the same pitcher. In fact, he never retired another hitter. The sequence went Jesse Garcia single, Teyt Johnson RBI triple, Luciano DePamphilis RBI single and Keaton Candor walk. That was it for McMurray, but the Bulldogs were not done yet.
Carter Cummins allowed Ben Berg to deliver an RBI single that one-hopped the fence in left. At that point, the Tigers were grasping on to a 4-3 lead. With the bases full, Cummins coaxed both Wade Council and Christian Meza into pop outs. The momentum was perhaps about to swing back the other way – until Evan Bohman drilled a two-run, go-ahead single to right center.
Joked Bohman, “I was a little mad at Wade and Meza for not getting it done. They’ve gotten it done a lot before. I think if you put any guy in that spot (that I was in), we don’t expect anything less. Anybody’s going to get that hit and it just happened to be me today.”
The late outburst was reminiscent of the rally Concordia put together on Friday to defeat Dakota Wesleyan, 6-3. The latest comeback was aided by the continued hot hitting of Bulldog catchers. Berg went 3-for-5 with an RBI on Saturday. For some insurance, Keaton Candor blasted a solo homer to center in the ninth inning for the game’s final tally. Seven Concordia hitters notched exactly one hit.
Thomas Otte pitched a scoreless seventh inning in relief and earned the win. The reliable Dylan DuRee recorded the final six outs and picked up his eighth save of the season. Fosgett showed really good stuff once again, as his 11 strikeouts in six innings indicated. In two games against Doane at the GPAC tournament, Bulldog pitchers were able to fan Tiger slugger Eduardo Yanez eight times.
Who knows how this would have ended up without the delay on Saturday. Said Bohman, “We just stayed us. We just laughed in the dugout a little bit. That’s honestly the best thing that could have happened. We had some bad at bats, but we didn’t let it beat ourselves. Jesse had that 0-2 count and got on base and it started from there.”
As winner of their own Concordia Bracket, the Bulldogs now look forward to hosting second-seeded Jamestown (34-16) at 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday (May 7) in the GPAC championship game. Concordia and Jamestown have already secured the league’s two automatic bids to the opening round of the national tournament (May 13-16). The two sides split a doubleheader in Seward on April 13 when both ends of the twin bill were decided by a single run.