Late long balls lift Bulldogs to Concordia Bracket finals

By Jacob Knabel on May. 3, 2019 in Baseball

SEWARD, Neb. – A well-pitched ballgame on day two of the GPAC baseball tournament was eventually decided by the bullpens. Advantage Concordia. The Bulldogs pounced on the first reliever they saw from Dakota Wesleyan in a 6-3 victory that puts them in the driver’s seat in their own Concordia Bracket pod. Teyt Johnson and Beau Dorman supplied the big swings that thrilled the Plum Creek Crowd on Friday (May 3).

Fifth-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad faced a 3-1 deficit entering the eighth inning of the contest. These Bulldogs (31-17) just don’t flinch, even after struggling to string things together most of the day against Tiger starter Ethan Davis.

“It’s kind of the story of the season so far,” Dupic said. “There were moments where maybe we could have done this better or that better, but they found a way to get a way to done. Obviously we had some really nice at bats in the eighth to tie it and then some awesome swings in the ninth by Teyt and Beau. They’ve got a fighter’s spirit. They’re fun to watch. They stay with it and they keep believing in themselves.”

They kept believing even when Wes Anderson’s two-run triple staked Dakota Wesleyan (23-22) to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Concordia got the situation it wanted in the eighth when Christian Meza strode to the plate with runners at second and third. One of the best players in school history proved his worth once again by delivering a two-run, game-tying single.

The wheels came off for the Tigers when Davis was pulled in favor of Gunnar Johnson in the ninth. Johnson greeted him with a no-doubter home run to right in a lefty-versus-lefty matchup. Dorman then blasted a homer to right center and Keaton Candor followed with a rocket shot double. Candor scored two batters later on Logan Ryan’s RBI single.

“I was struggling a little bit all day and I just needed to come through,” Johnson said of his go-ahead big fly. “I tried my best to barrel the baseball and it happened to get out. We saw him (Gunnar Johnson) earlier in the year so I just stuck to the same approach as back then.”

Bulldog starting pitcher Sasha Jabusch, the reigning NAIA National Pitcher of the Week, allowed the aforementioned triple to Anderson, but it was an overall stellar day for the Kelso, Wash., native. Jabusch struck out nine hitters in seven innings as a follow-up to his 17-strikeout performance last week. Dupic then handed it over to a back end of the bullpen that has been terrific all year.

In the eighth, Ryan Samuelson worked around one of his own errors to hold Dakota Wesleyan off the scoreboard. After Samuelson walked the first hitter in the ninth, closer Dylan DuRee came on and nailed down the last three outs for his seventh save of 2019. Samuelson was credited with the win.

“We’ve been in this situation before,” Dupic said of the tightly played battle. “Guys are used to those roles. They’re used to coming in with those situations. You don’t really have to change anything from what we’ve done in the regular season. I think that’s what made them feel comfortable in those spots. Once we were able to get it back tied I thought maybe we have a pretty good shot here.”

The late inning offensive breakthrough paved the way for Concordia to record 12 hits. Dorman went 3-for-4 with a home run and a double. It was also a big day for Luciano DePamphilis, who struck for a solo homer in the fifth and doubled and scored in the eighth. Meza went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.

Now 2-0 in the Concordia Bracket, the Bulldogs are one win away from advancing to the GPAC championship game. Concordia will play at home again at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday against an opponent to be determined.