Prater continues dominance; baseball ties program record for wins
SEWARD, Neb. – GPAC pitcher of the week Josh Prater continued his masterful work in leading the Concordia University baseball team to a 2-0 blanking of Morningside in game 2 of Tuesday’s GPAC doubleheader at Plum Creek Park in Seward, Neb. That performance relieved some of the sting of the 7-5 game 1 loss that saw the Mustangs rally back from a 4-1 deficit.
The split allowed first-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad to equal the school record for wins in a season set by the 2012 squad. The Bulldogs stand at 25-15 overall and 7-9 in conference play.
“It’s going to be a really neat thing for us to talk about after the year’s over,” Dupic said. “It’s something that can build some confidence and show short term and long term that we’re headed in the right direction. I can’t wait to talk to our guys about it after the year. Nonetheless, it’s still something for the guys to feel really good about, especially for that senior class.”
Coming off a career high 10-strikeout performance over seven shutout innings in last week’s win over York, Prater again dominated. He changed speeds effectively, and although he allowed eight hits, he surrendered more than one hit in an inning just once.
The native of Colorado Springs, Colo., has now fired 18-straight scoreless innings going back to April 8. Over that stretch he has given up 13 hits and walked only three while striking out 15. Few Bulldogs are performing with the confidence level of Prater.
“I tip my cap,” Dupic said. “He’s been doing outstanding. I’m really happy for him just to see how well things have been going. The wind shifted a little bit in the second game and was blowing in. It made it really tough on both offenses. He did a great job taking advantage of it, pounding the strike zone and mixing his pitches. He’s just really settled in.”
Offensively, red hot Alex Alstott picked up where left off on Monday by hammering the first pitch he saw well over the right field wall in the bottom of the first of game 1. Mustang pitcher Lance Spongberg then retired the Bulldog center fielder the next three times he faced him, ending a stretch of 10-straight plate appearances in which Alstott reached base.
Designated hitter Taylor Dudley picked up the slack. He drilled a two-run double into the left center gap in the fourth inning to push the Concordia lead to 4-1 in game 1. Dudley ended up 2-for-3 in the contest and 3-for-7 on the day.
The Mustangs roared back with a pair of unearned runs off Concordia righty Neil Ryan in the top of the fifth. Trailing 4-3 to begin the seventh and final inning, Morningside exploded for four runs and chased Ryan from the game. Nate Clark pushed across the go-ahead run with an RBI double. Two batters later, Nathan DeChaine singled in two more runs off reliever Edwin Izumigawa.
Kaleb Geiger followed an Alex Cargin triple with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, but Spongberg struck out the final two Bulldog hitters to end the game.
Concordia earned the game 2 victory despite totaling only three hits. It got all the runs it needed on a Zach Cambier RBI infield single in the first and a botched run down that let Casey Berg cross the plate in the seventh.
After going 5-for-5 with a grand slam and three walks in Monday’s doubleheader sweep of Northwestern, Alstott managed only a 1-for-6 twin bill with a pair of walks against Mustang hurlers.
The Bulldogs conclude their 2015 home schedule on Thursday when Doane (30-12, 9-7 GPAC) visits for a doubleheader. First pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m. from Plum Creek Park.