TOPEKA, Kan. – Returning to action 10 days following a season-opening doubleheader split at Bethany College, the Concordia University baseball salvaged another split by winning game two on Tuesday afternoon in twin bill with Kansas Wesleyan University. In a pair of contests that took place at a neutral field in Topeka, Kan., the Bulldogs dropped game 1, 8-5, before rallying for an 8-7 game 2 victory over the Coyotes (4-5).
First-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad sits at 2-2 following four games against foes from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“The first game was a little disappointing because we didn’t defend well,” Dupic said. “(Right-handed pitcher) Will (Holbrook) competed but we just didn’t support him. We fell behind and we tried to chip away. We just weren’t solid enough defensively.
“I was happy with the way we rebounded in the second game. We fell behind again but we were able to rally back. It was a good response and gave us a chance to leave on a positive.”
Leading 6-0, Kansas Wesleyan chased Concordia game 2 starting pitcher Jaydee Jurgensen in the third inning. With freshman lefty Taylor Bickel providing solid work out of the bullpen, the Bulldog offense came alive. Junior outfielder Taylor Bigandt crushed a home run to left center to ignite the rally. Junior middle infielder Alex Cargin added a much-needed double with the bases loaded.
On the day, sophomore Casey Berg and freshman Kaleb Geiger delivered three hits apiece. Senior Zach Cambier (two doubles) and sophomore Tyler Nelson notched a pair of hits apiece. Bickel earned his first career win on the mound and senior right-hander Heath Benker closed game 2 for his first save of 2015.
Now the trick for Dupic and company is to get the same production in the front end of doubleheaders.
“Unfortunately we started out slow today,” Dupic said. “We’ve had two doubleheaders now where we’ve gotten better as the day has gone on. We need to be better out of the gates. At the same time, we’re still playing a lot of different guys and getting a feel for who needs to be in the lineup, especially in the infield.”
Kansas Wesleyan, which went 22-30 overall and 11-17 in KCAC games in 2014, is a “good offensive team,” according to Dupic. The Coyotes have averaged 5.7 runs per contest through their opening nine games of 2015.
The Bulldogs will remain in The Sunflower State and take on Sterling College (9-3), a team receiving votes in the national poll, in Sterling, Kan., on Wednesday. The doubleheader will get underway at 1 p.m. Twin bills scheduled for Friday and Saturday (Feb. 27-28) at Oklahoma Wesleyan have been canceled.