SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia and Dakota Wesleyan combined for 45 runs in a slugfest of a baseball doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. Center fielder Camaren Gause blasted a walk-off two-run homer to lift the Bulldogs to a wild 14-13 victory in game 1 prior to a 10-8 win in game 2.
Concordia overcame deficits of 13-5 in the opening contest and 7-5 in the night cap to improve to 12-16 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
“It was one of those games where the guys really grinded,” head coach Jeremy Geidel said of the game 1 comeback. “They came out today to play hard and play it right. We got ourselves in a big hole and our guys came out and stayed with it. They chipped away at it.
“It ended up being a being a memorable win for us with Cam hitting that walk-off home run.”
Gause’s game-winning blast provided the biggest highlight of what turned into a huge weekend for the native of Tucson, Ariz. With Daniel Wilkerson on second and one away in the bottom of the seventh, Gause blasted Shaun Dean’s offering over the left field wall to set off a celebration at the plate.
Gause was lifted into the air by several teammates and then bear-hugged by third base/hitting coach Rich Eber. The rally from eight runs down was a significant boost to a team that had lost four straight.
“That was exciting. It was a great experience to have,” Gause said. “I just trust the process. My teammates never gave up on me and I never gave up on myself either.”
Some extra swings in the batting cage helped Gause overcome his recent slump. Over four games this weekend, the senior went 6-for-11 with three home runs (two in Sunday’s game 1), two doubles, four walks, nine RBIs and a highlight reel catch in center while battling the wind.
“He worked all week,” Geidel said. “He knew he was struggling. He was getting some extra swings in with coach Eber. Credit coach Eber for simplifying his swing a little bit and giving some confidence back to him this week. It was a good job by Cam coming out and being mentally tough.”
Dakota Wesleyan scored six runs in the top of the fifth and led 13-5 at the end of five in game 1. Left fielder Taylor Dudley’s three-run double keyed a five-run sixth and Wilkerson’s two-run double in the seventh then set the stage for the heroics of Gause.
Wilkerson finished 3-for-9 while driving in five runs to extend his team-leading RBI total to 27. First baseman Zach Cambier went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in game 2 and catcher Ryan Fesmire went 2-for-4 with an RBI in game 1.
Dakota Wesleyan also got big production at the plate. The Tiger trio of Ben Spitznagel, Ben Ladner and Cody Silveria each had two hits in both ends of the twin bill.
Bulldog winning pitchers were relievers Schafer Thompson and Bryce Rone. Junior lefty Jaydee Jurgensen made his first mound appearance since March 8 and worked two innings to pick up the save in game 2.
After letting leads slip away in each of the team’s latest four losses, the Bulldogs were happy to be on the other side of things on Sunday.
“It will help big,” Gause said. “We’re going to go out and practice this week and focus on that and then come out with the same energy as today.”
The Bulldogs will have nearly a week off before returning to action next Saturday when they travel to Dordt (8-10, 1-3 GPAC) for a 1 p.m. doubleheader in Sioux Center, Iowa. Concordia returns home the next day to host Mount Marty (14-8, 0-2 GPAC). The Sunday matinee will get underway at 1 p.m. from Plum Creek Park.