GPAC baseball championship preview: location moved to Yankton

By Jacob Knabel on May. 6, 2019 in Baseball

SEWARD, Neb. – A rainy forecast for Tuesday night in Seward has thrown a curveball in regards to the GPAC baseball postseason championship game. GPAC and Concordia officials have decided to move the one nine-inning contest to Bob Tereshinski Stadium at Riverside Field in Yankton, S.D., (home field of Mount Marty) with first pitch at 12 p.m. CT on Tuesday (May 7). As the top seed in the bracket, the Bulldogs were scheduled to play the game at Plum Creek Park. Instead, Concordia and Jamestown will meet at the aforementioned neutral site. Concordia will be the home team on the scoreboard.

GPAC Baseball Championship Game
♦ Tuesday, May 7 | 12 p.m. CT
♦ Bob Tereshinski Stadium at Riverside Field | Yankton, S.D.
♦ Live coverage: Webcast (link could change) | Stats | ESPN Jamestown (Jamestown radio)
♦ Admission: $8 for adults, $3 for K-12

Head coaches Ryan Dupic of Concordia and Tom Hager of Jamestown have already guided their respective squads to national tournament berths. The Bulldogs locked up their spot in the opening round by winning the GPAC regular season title. The league’s second automatic bid is awarded to either the GPAC tournament winner (if a team other than the regular season champion) or the team that placed second in the regular season standings. The Jimmies have been a national tournament regular under Hager, who led the program to the NAIA World Series in 2004 and 2008. Meanwhile, Dupic steered Concordia to its first ever appearance at nationals in 2017.

“They’re very good, they’re well-coached and they have good talent,” Dupic said of Jamestown after wrapping up the Concordia Bracket last week. “They pitch and they defend and they put pressure on you offensively. They also hit with some power. They’re a very versatile team. It should be a very good ballgame. We’ll go out there and compete and do the best we can.”

The Bulldogs have made it to this point while following the lead of a dominant pitching staff and with the help of timely hitting. Concordia advanced out of its own bracket with a pair of wins over eighth-seeded Doane and one over fourth-seeded Dakota Wesleyan. The final two wins of this past weekend required the Bulldogs to rally from late deficits. In those contests, Concordia tallied 11 of its 12 combined runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Game-winning hits were delivered by Teyt Johnson (solo homer vs. DWU) and Evan Bohman (two-run single vs. Doane).

The Bulldogs have reason to believe they are well-equipped for a tournament setting considering their pitching depth. Dupic used his top three starters last week: Jason Munsch, Sasha Jabusch and Jake Fosgett, in that order. They combined to cover 19.2 innings with five earned runs allowed while continuing a season long theme of missing bats. The strikeout rates are off the charts this season. Munsch has 85 strikeouts in 53.1 innings (14.34/nine innings). Fosgett has 85 strikeouts in 55.1 innings (13.83/nine innings). Jabusch has 75 strikeouts in 58 innings (11.64/nine innings). They have helped Concordia set a new single season record with 458 strikeouts as a staff. It should be mentioned that Dylan DuRee (0.62 ERA in 29 innings) and Ryan Samuelson (0.43 ERA in 21 innings) have been stellar out of the bullpen.

Offensively, someone new seems to surface with the clutch hit each game. Of course, GPAC Player of the Year candidate Christian Meza has been a reliable source of production his entire career. He leads the team in batting average (.352) and is coming up on the school career record for RBIs (his 141 RBIs are five shy of Kaleb Geiger’s record of 146). The offense flashed some firepower last week with six home runs over the three games. Meza and four of his teammates are batting .300 or better, including Wade Council (.320), Beau Dorman (.317), Jesse Garcia (.304) and Logan Ryan (.300). In GPAC tournament play, catchers Ben Berg and Dorman have combined to go 9-for-13 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs.

Jamestown’s postseason path to the final has included victories by scores of 8-0 over Morningside, 6-3 over Northwestern and 9-6 over Northwestern again. Hager also threw his top three starting pitchers last week: Kensaku Akiya (7-0, 3.63 ERA, 62 IP), Dakota Nelson (3-4, 3.34 ERA, 67.1 IP) and Tanner Roundy (3-1, 3.54 ERA, 56 IP). The Jimmies are a balanced team that ranks second in the GPAC in both runs per game (6.42) and ERA (4.48). Drake Pilat is their leading hitter in terms of batting average (.368) while Jaden Yackley supplies extra base power (18 doubles and five home runs). The Jimmies regrouped this season after losing several of their top arms from a 2018 squad that came up one win short of advancing to the NAIA World Series.

Opening round qualifiers and brackets are scheduled to be announced by the NAIA at 4 p.m. CT on Thursday via a selection show on the NAIA’s Facebook page. This year’s opening round host locations are Williamsburg, Ky., Montgomery, Ala., Henderson, Tenn., Lawrenceville, Ga., Shreveport, Ga., Macon, Ga., Miami Gardens, Fla., Kingsport, Tenn., and Santa Barbara, Calif. The opening rounds will take place May 13-16 with the Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series to follow May 24-31 in Lewiston, Idaho.