UPDATE: Doubleheaders with Jamestown, Hastings rescheduled

By Jacob Knabel on Mar. 17, 2023 in Baseball

UPDATE: Scheduled weekend doubleheaders have been postponed and rescheduled. The Bulldogs will host Jamestown at 2 p.m. CT on Monday (March 20) and will play at Hastings at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28.

SEWARD, Neb. – Following an 11-game stretch in Florida to open the month of March, the Concordia University Baseball team has returned to Nebraska. The final 28 games on the regular season slate will all be against GPAC opponents. The Bulldogs will carry some momentum into the GPAC schedule after having won their final three games of the road trip, including two over 13th-ranked St. Thomas University (Fla.). Head Coach Ryan Dupic’s squad claimed the Warner Invitational title and moved to 14-8 overall. Weather permitting, Concordia will open GPAC play this weekend with doubleheaders against Jamestown and Hastings.

This Week

Note: Unfavorable weather forecast for the weekend could result in changes to the schedule. Please check back for updates and follow @cunebulldogs on Twitter for the latest information.

Saturday, March 18 vs. Jamestown (11-7, 0-0 GPAC), 1 p.m. DH **POSTPONED - rescheduled for March 20 at 2 p.m.
--Live Webcast/Stats | Location: Plum Creek Park (Seward, Neb.)

Sunday, March 19 at Hastings (6-10, 0-0 GPAC), 1 p.m. DH **POSTPONED - rescheduled for March 28 at 2 p.m.
--Live Webcast | Stats: G1G2 | Location: Duncan Field (Hastings, Neb.)

By the numbers

·        Updated NAIA “Bo Chip” ratings were released on March 9 by the NAIA. The rating is a metric that gives a snapshot of how NAIA squads across conferences compare. Concordia currently stands at No. 54 in the Bo Chip, which ranks the NAIA teams 1 through 201. While in Florida, the Bulldogs earned wins over No. 25 Keiser University (Fla.), Grand View University (Iowa), No. 8/13 St. Thomas University (Fla.) (three times), Lawrence Tech (Mich.) and Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.). Grand View had been 11-0 before Concordia defeated the Vikings by a 6-2 score. Of the 22 games played to this point, 11 have come against opponents that were either ranked or receiving votes nationally at the time of first pitch. The Bulldogs have won five games over top 25 opponents and have played a schedule currently rated as the 37th toughest in the NAIA, according to Massey Ratings.

·        The 14-8 record this season has pushed Dupic’s overall head coaching record to 256-153-1. Not only has Dupic passed 250 career wins, he’s now the program’s all-time winningest coach. Dupic officially surpassed Jeremy Geidel (250 wins) for that title with the team’s victory over Grand View on March 6. The milestone for Dupic became a celebration of how far the program has come in his tenure. When Dupic took over beginning with the 2015 season, Concordia Baseball had gone since 1979 without a single winning season. Dupic’s teams have transformed the program with winning marks each year, topped by a school record 42 victories during the NAIA World Series season of 2021. Under Dupic’s leadership, the Bulldogs have also won a combined five GPAC championships and have played in four national tournaments.

·        Through nonconference play, it’s clear that Concordia’s offensive lineup is again a major strength. The Bulldogs have already piled up 208 runs while belting 40 home runs. The team is hitting .336 with a .420 on-base percentage and .575 slugging percentage. During the 11 games in Florida, Concordia went up against strong competition and still batted .338 with 107 runs with the help of 19 long balls. On the NAIA national leaderboard, the Bulldogs entered the week ranked sixth in home runs, ninth in slugging percentage, 15th in batting average and 44th in on-base percentage. While Concordia has went deep 40 times, no other GPAC team has hit more than 18 home runs so far this season.

·        The chase for Concordia’s all-time home run record will continue this spring. With 12 big flies on the season, Joey Grabanski has pulled even with former teammate Keaton Candor for the most career home runs in school history with 47 apiece. Jesse Garcia is right on their heels with 46 career blasts. Grabanski sits only one homer off the national lead of 13 homers this season (by two other NAIA sluggers). On the GPAC leaderboard, the Bulldogs boast the top three home run hitters: Grabanski (12), Garcia (eight) and Jaidan Quinn (seven). Concordia has the GPAC’s top four RBI men: Grabanski (35), Garcia (29), Jay Adams (23) and Quinn (23).

·        Both Adams and Garcia have reached the 200-career hit milestone this season. The list of players to accomplish that feat in program history has reached five. An Honorable Mention All-American last season, Adams started out this season a bit slow, but he’s heated up in a big way. On March 10 when the Bulldogs defeated Calumet, 23-3, and St. Thomas, 20-3, Adams went 6-for-8 with a double, four home runs and 11 RBIs. He recorded the second three-homer game of his career in the blowout of St. Thomas. In addition, Adams recently became the program’s all-time runs scored leader. He’s touched home plate 174 times in 154 games as a Bulldog. The previous record was 170 by Candor.

·        Dupic has used four pitchers who have started at least three games so far this season: Frankie Cresta (five), Caden Johnson (five), Blake Benson (four) and Alex Johnson (three). The status of Alex Johnson is in question moving forward, but the Bulldogs have the depth to lessen the blow thanks to the experience of Caden Bugarske and Christian Gutierrez. Benson has moved into a role as the No. 1 pitcher. His best outing so far at Concordia came on March 9 when he held Lawrence Tech to one run on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Another notable performance during spring break was the seven-inning complete game tossed by Bugarske in the win over Grand View. Bugarske allowed just a single earned run on five hits and a walk to go along with five strikeouts. In the final game of the trip, Gutierrez came on in relief and threw six innings with one run allowed on four hits (no walks) and got the win. A transfer like Benson, Cresta has covered more innings (27.1) than any other Concordia pitcher to this point.

·        As of the beginning of the week, every GPAC program has played at least nine games. In terms of nonconference win percentage, the Bulldogs rank sixth in the league behind Doane (13-3), Mount Mary (17-4), Briar Cliff (11-3), Morningside (11-5) and Dordt (11-6). It’s worth noting that Concordia has played the conference’s most challenging schedule in terms of number of games versus nationally ranked opponents. Doane’s hot start has vaulted it to No. 24 in the NAIA coaches’ poll released on March 8. The Bulldogs are no longer receiving votes after having landed at No. 21 in the preseason. The top five in the official GPAC poll are Doane, Concordia, Mount Marty, Briar Cliff and Morningside.

The opponents

Jamestown won the GPAC tournament title as recently as 2019 and has been a top-of-the-league contender since first becoming a member of the GPAC that same ’19 season. The program has had plenty of stability with Tom Hager now in the midst of his 24th season as head coach. He’s led the Jimmies to nearly 800 overall wins and to two NAIA World Series appearances (14 total national tournaments). So far in 2023, Jamestown has beaten two teams that were ranked at the time the games were played: No. 14 Central Methodist University (Mo.) and No. 16 Arizona Christian University. The team’s headlining returner is 2022 Second Team All-GPAC catcher Triston Madison, who is hitting .431 with four extra-base hits. A fine two-way player, Hayden Brown owns a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings as a pitcher and is hitting .365 with a team high four home runs. Jamestown landed in a tie for third in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll.

Hastings is hoping to make progress in Joel Schipper’s second season as head coach. The Broncos won only three GPAC games in 2022 but are out to a 6-10 start in 2023 nonconference contests. The team’s top hitter in the early going has been freshman outfielder Jaden Stone, who is batting .340 with six RBIs. From a pitching perspective, James Velasquez is off to a fine start with a 1.93 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. Offensively, the Broncos are slashing .256/.335/.328. Eighty-nine of their 111 hits have been singles. Hastings was scheduled to play a doubleheader at No. 1 Southeastern University (Fla.) on Monday.

Next week

Most of the GPAC action will be held towards the end of each week going forward. On next week’s slate, Concordia is scheduled to play a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Mount Marty on March 25 and a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Dakota Wesleyan on March 26.