Focus shifts to postseason for GPAC champions

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 29, 2019 in Baseball

SEWARD, Neb. – Postseason baseball has arrived across the NAIA landscape. As a reward for winning the GPAC regular season title, the Concordia University baseball team has earned the right to host one of the two four-team pods for the GPAC tournament that begins on Thursday (full schedule at bottom). No matter what happens this weekend, head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has already locked up an automatic bid to play at in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round (May 13-16).

The Concordia Bracket of the GPAC tournament will include No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan, No. 5 Mount Marty and No. 8 Doane. On the other side, second-seeded Jamestown will welcome No. 3 Midland, No. 6 Northwestern and No. 7 Morningside to North Dakota for the Jamestown Bracket.

The Bulldogs took up residence at the top of the GPAC standings wire-to-wire while riding a 15-0 start to conference play to the program’s second regular season title in three years. Fittingly, Concordia clinched the conference on a day when its pitchers combined for 16 shutout innings. In the GPAC title clinching win on April 27, junior lefty Sasha Jabusch was beyond dominant in a two-hit shutout that featured 17 strikeouts. In GPAC games only, the Bulldog pitching staff led the league in ERA (2.31 – next closest was 4.06), lowest opponent batting average (.210), strikeouts (265) and fewest hits allowed (165).

“They’ve pitched so well all year,” Dupic said after the regular season’s final doubleheader. “I’m very proud of them. They deserve all the credit.”

It’s not crazy to call this the best pitching staff in program history. Consider the numbers of the team’s main four starters in the rotation: Jake Fosgett (4-2, 3.10 ERA, 49.1 IP, 13.5 K/9 IP), Jabusch (6-2, 3.00 ERA, 51 IP, 11.6 K/9 IP), Jason Munsch (4-3, 3.09 ERA, 46.2 IP, 14.9 K/9 IP) and Tanner Wauhob (6-2, 4.41 ERA, 51 IP, 8.6 K/9 IP). Then you also have to factor in the team’s three most counted upon relievers: Dylan DuRee (0.69 ERA, 26 IP, six saves), Ryan Samuelson (0.45 ERA, 20 IP, 22 K) and Jared Schipper (2.67 ERA, 30.1 IP, 25 K). Together they have helped break a program single season strikeout record with 421 as a staff.

It's a staff that should make Concordia formidable in a tournament setting. The Bulldog offense is also more than capable, led by star senior second baseman Christian Meza, who wants to keep his career going as long as possible. He collected five hits on a cold and windy day at Plum Creek Park this past Saturday to push his career hit total to 210. With a .360 average, Meza leads the team in hitting. Three other regulars are batting above .300: Wade Council (.321), Jesse Garcia (.315) and Logan Ryan (.303).

The rest of the Concordia Bracket Field

Dakota Wesleyan (22-21, 16-12 GPAC)
Head Coach: John Greicar (5th year)
Runs/Game: 5.41
Team ERA: 5.26
Top Hitter: Wes Anderson (.361 BA, .459 OBP, .486 SLG, 12 2B, 2 HR, 21 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Dominique Boerger (8-3, 1.83 ERA, 68.2 IP, 72 K, .221 OPP BA)
Synopsis: Dakota Wesleyan increased its GPAC win total from seven in 2018 to 16 in 2019 with the help of a pitching staff that has been solid. Dominique Boerger is a legitimate ace and Gunnar Johnson provides a nice No. 2 in the rotation. The Tigers recently went on a run in which they won nine of 11 in conference play.

Doane (18-28, 12-16 GPAC)
Head Coach: Josh Oltmans (3rd year)
Runs/Game: 5.48
Team ERA: 6.96
Top Hitter: Trent Jeary (.331 BA, .422 OBP, .455 SLG, 8 2B, 3 HR, 23 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Bradley Bero (4-2, 5.07 ERA, 55 IP, 63 K, .277 OPP BA)
Synopsis: Doane entered the final weekend of the regular season appearing to be a longshot to reach the GPAC tournament, but it earned a four-game split with Jamestown and got some help with Briar Cliff dropping three of four at Hastings – so here the Tigers are with a second life. Concordia swept four games from Doane during the regular season, but each game was decided by one or two run margins. The Tigers have some offensive firepower, but they have allowed 314 runs in 325.2 innings.

Mount Marty (25-19, 16-12 GPAC)
Head Coach: Andy Bernatow (15th year)
Runs/Game: 6.30
Team ERA: 6.06
Top Hitter: Mason Townsend (.386 BA, .456 OBP, .638 SLG, 14 2B, 6 HR, 37 RBI)
Top Pitcher: Blake Svoboda (7-2, 3.84 ERA, 58.2 IP, 83 K, .180 OPP BA)
Synopsis: The Lancers tied for third in the GPAC regular season standings with a surge in the second half of the conference schedule. Mount Marty won 10 conference games in a row before falling three-straight times to Northwestern to conclude the regular season. Andy Bernatow’s club possesses one of the GPAC’s top hitters in Mason Townsend, who leads an offense averaging more than six runs per game.

2019 Concordia Bracket

Live coverage for all games: Webcast | Stats

Thursday, May 2
Game 1 – No. 4 Dakota Wesleyan (22-21, 16-12) vs. No. 5 Mount Marty (25-19, 16-12), 3 p.m.
Game 2 – No. 1 Concordia (29-17, 23-5) vs. No. 8 Doane (18-28, 12-16), 6 p.m.

Friday, May 3
Game 3 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.
Game 4 – Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 5 p.m.
Game 5 – Game 4 winner vs. Game 3 loser, 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 4
Game 6 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 4 p.m.
Game 7 – If necessary (game 6 winner/loser), 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 7 – GPAC Championship Game
Concordia Bracket winner vs. Jamestown Bracket winner, Time TBD