YANKTON, S.D. – There was no comeback this time. With a GPAC tournament title on the line, the Concordia University baseball team got very little accomplished offensively on Tuesday (May 7) afternoon at Bob Tereshinski Stadium in Yankton, S.D. Star of the game Dru Fitz and the University of Jamestown celebrated a 3-0 victory to deny the Bulldogs, who made their second GPAC postseason final appearance in three seasons.
Fifth-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad had hoped to complete a sweep of conference championships after seizing the regular season title. An automatic national qualifier, Concordia will take an overall record of 32-18 into the NAIA opening round.
“We did pitch pretty well. We obviously didn’t field our positions well and that got us in trouble,” Dupic said. “We made a couple other mistakes defensively. Just couldn’t get much going on their pitcher obviously. It just wasn’t quite our day today.”
Early on, it was Bulldog lefty hurler Jason Munsch who dazzled by striking out the first six Jimmies hitters he faced. Dupic used four different pitchers to limit Jamestown to a grand total of three hits. Concordia came away from this outing feeling like it gifted the opposition two runs in the fourth. A leadoff walk and a pair of throwing errors (one by Munsch and one by Christian Meza) crippled the Bulldogs in that frame.
On the other side, Fitz whirled a four-hit, nine-inning shutout in a masterful performance. He struck out only two Bulldogs, but recorded 11 fly outs and 14 ground outs in a snappy game that took less than two-hours-and-15 minutes. The best scoring chance for Concordia came in the fourth when Jesse Garcia and Teyt Johnson delivered back-to-back singles with one out. In the ninth, Keaton Candor flied out to the wall in center.
Munsch covered five innings before the game was turned over to the bullpen. In relief, Ryan Samuelson, Tanner Wauhob and Dylan DuRee helped keep the Bulldogs within arm’s reach of the Jimmies (35-16). Fitz was just too good. He set down the final 17 hitters he faced.
As the No. 1 seed in the GPAC tournament, Concordia hosted its own pod before reaching the championship game. In postseason play, the Bulldogs defeated Doane twice with a win over Dakota Wesleyan sandwiched in between. Concordia was scheduled to host the GPAC title clash, but rainy conditions in Seward forced the game to be relocated to Yankton.
Action at the NAIA national tournament opening round will begin on Monday (May 13). The NAIA will announce opening round brackets and assignments on Thursday. The Bulldogs could be headed to any of nine pre-determined opening round locations. Concordia and Jamestown are the two automatic qualifiers from the GPAC.
“It’s something we’ll process as we go,” Dupic said of the achievement of qualifying for nationals. “We’re just in the heat of this game right now so we haven’t thought much about that at all. We’ll pick ourselves back up and get ready to watch the (selection) show on Thursday and see where we’re headed. We’re looking forward to having the chance to continue the season and keep playing with these guys.”