LEWISTON, Idaho – In a historic day for the Concordia University Baseball program, the Bulldogs came up on the short end of a 4-2 decision at the Avista NAIA World Series on Friday (May 28). It marked Concordia’s first-ever appearance at the World Series, which is hosted at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho. The 10th-seeded Bulldogs were not sharp enough while up against seventh-seeded Indiana University Southeast.
Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s squad arrived in Lewiston late on Tuesday night in preparation for Friday’s matchup. The season will be on the line on Saturday as part of the ten-team, double-elimination format.
“We weren’t at our best today,” Dupic said. “It was really a grind. We just could not get into the flow of the game. We struggled having quick innings and getting into a flow on the mound. We walked more people than we normally do and made a couple defensive mistakes. I give us credit for hanging in there and staying in the game. We’re playing really good teams here so you have to give them credit too. We couldn’t get rolling today.”
Despite Concordia pitchers issuing six walks, in addition to a pair of errors, the outcome was in doubt until the very last pitch. Jacob Frankel managed to strike out Bulldog No. 3 hitter Joey Grabanski with a runner on second for the final out of the contest. Concordia (42-11) outhit the Grenadiers, 8-5, but was limited to only one extra base hit.
The Bulldogs put their only two runs on the board in the eighth. That frame began with consecutive singles from Beau Dorman, Grabanski and Keaton Candor. After a pop out, Ben Berg’s two-run single up the middle cut the 4-0 deficit in half. Fly outs to right and left limited the damage. Then in the ninth, Dorman doubled with two outs to keep hope alive at the time.
Like the first game of the opening round, Dupic gave Nick Little the nod as the starting pitcher. Little worked 2.1 shutout innings before ace Jake Fosgett was called upon out of the bullpen, just as planned. Fosgett (9-1) wound up being tagged with his first loss of 2021. He fired 3.2 innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and four walks (five strikeouts). AJ Cotton, Shane Whittaker and Nathan Buckallew also worked out of the ‘pen.
Though the result wasn’t as hoped on Friday, Concordia is soaking up what will forever be an unforgettable season. Said Dupic, “It’s a unique opportunity and something we’re very grateful for – to continue playing in the World Series. It’s pretty special. I think we’re enjoying the experience. Today we were locked into competing. We want to bounce back and play well tomorrow.”
IU Southeast (42-14) is also making its first appearance at the World Series. Gavin Knust earned the win in relief by tossing four shutout frames. Marco Romero supplied the necessary insurance by blasting a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.
As of late Friday night, the Bulldogs’ opponent for Saturday was yet to be determined. Concordia will play at 11:30 a.m. PT / 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday against the loser between third-seeded Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and sixth-seeded Faulkner (Ala.).