SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Despite a stellar 2018 debut from senior lefty hurler Cade Moring, the Concordia University baseball team suffered a pair of defeats on the opening day of its new season. The Bulldogs dropped decisions by scores of 8-3 and 1-0 while up against Evangel University, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference. The games were played at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Mo., on Sunday (Feb. 25).
Fourth-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is coming off a GPAC regular-season title in 2017. Concordia unveiled a new-look lineup that featured three freshmen on Sunday.
“I thought it was a tale of two different types of games,” Dupic said. “That first game we didn’t pitch well enough to win. We put some nice swings on their guy early in that game and he really stayed the course and ended up throwing the whole game. In game two, Cade was terrific. He really threw the baseball well. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
On a sunny day with temperatures in the 50s, the Bulldog bats got off to a cold start. They were limited to a combined seven hits over 14 innings of action. The Crusaders’ Dustin Eby tossed a one-hit shutout that included nine strikeouts in game two. Concordia’s offensive highlights of the day came in the second inning of game one when freshmen outfielders Keaton Candor and Dylan Jacob connected with back-to-back home runs on the first at bats of their respective collegiate careers. The Bulldogs led 3-0 at the time. Said Dupic, “It’s super exciting. Those are two really good kids that have worked hard. We see big potential in both guys.”
Moring gave his team every opportunity for a rebound win in game two. He gave up only a fourth-inning tally while tossing a six-inning complete game. The Eagar, Ariz., native allowed five hits and one walk while striking out eight. Moring figures to be a regular in the starting rotation after an offseason of rapid improvement.
Said Dupic, “That’s probably as good as I’ve ever seen him. We think he’s prepared to have a good season and he certainly is off to a good start.”
Concordia missed out on its best scoring chance in game two when it put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth. Candor got it started by drawing a hit-by-pitch. Two batters later, Conner Anderson singled. Eby then buckled down and struck out Jake Taylor and Wade Council to end the threat.
Ace Jason Munsch took the bump in the opener. He ran into trouble in the second inning and was lifted for Jared Schipper after facing one hitter in the fourth. Munsch struck out six but allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks and was tagged with the loss. On the flip side, Derek Kennell tossed a seven-inning complete game for Evangel (7-4). He struck out eight Concordia hitters.
The Bulldogs and Crusaders will complete a four-game set on Monday (Feb. 26) with another twin bill. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. from Springfield. The two sides are expecting to play at Evangel’s typical home site on Monday.