SEWARD, Neb. – In a back-and-forth, teeth chattering affair, a two-run double by Tyler Nelson dealt Hastings a fatal blow in Tuesday’s contest between two teams jockeying for top-of-the-GPAC finishes. A four-run sixth-inning outburst propelled the Concordia University baseball team to a 10-8 win over visiting Hastings. The scheduled second game was postponed (inclement weather) and will be made up at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday (April 26).
Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad moved to 26-18 overall (15-8 GPAC) and within a half-game of first-place Midland (16-8 GPAC) in the race for the conference regular-season title. Morningside (15-9) is also in the picture.
Said Nelson, “We’re just trying to stay on an even keel. We’re just going to keep playing our game and see where it takes us.”
But the Broncos’ (24-19, 13-10 GPAC) GPAC title chances are now on life support after Tuesday’s defeat. Both teams had plenty of opportunities in a seven-inning game that featured a combined 22 hits and 11 walks and lasted nearly three hours.
Concordia had given up the lead in the top of the sixth when Grant Kraus delivered a pinch-hit two-run double to greet Desmond Pineda. A 6-4 Bulldog advantage was suddenly a 7-6 deficit. Fortunately, no lead proved safe.
Wade Council evened Concordia up in the bottom half of the sixth with a base hit to right center. After a Jake Adams bunt single loaded the bases, Nelson then stepped to the plate and laced a line drive down the right field line, scoring Council and pinch runner Steven Hernandez. An insurance run was added when a wild pitch sent Adams racing to the plate.
“I was seeing the ball real well today,” said Nelson, a native of La Porte, Texas. “I finally got a ball that was thrown up and I just hit it.”
The revival of the Bulldog offense was needed on an evening when starting pitcher Jason Munsch finally caved and allowed four runs in the fourth inning. He had not allowed a single run over his previous three starts (20 innings). The Broncos also eventually got to Nic Seaman and loaded the bases in the seventh before Pineda ended the madness by freezing Alex Utrup with strike three for the final out. It was the last pitch as coaches and umpires convened and decided to postpone game 2.
Hastings had exhausted its primary four starters over the weekend and used ace reliever Xander Schmidt as a spot starter. He went 4.2 innings and was tagged for six runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks. One of those reliable hurlers, Will Frei, played first base on Tuesday and went 2-for-2 with two walks and three RBIs.
Nelson (2-for-4, double, one run, two RBIs), Casey Berg (2-for-4, two doubles, two runs, two RBIs) and Adams (2-for-4, two runs) each had two hits for Concordia. Kaleb Geiger also produced a key two-out RBI single while pinch hitting in the bottom of the fifth.
Five regular-season games are left on the schedule for the Bulldogs. After completing the series with Hastings on Wednesday, Concordia will shift focus to a four-game set at Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, S.D., on Friday and Saturday.