MITCHELL, S.D. – Pressure? Nah. Josh Prater and Nick Little were not phased. Both Concordia University baseball hurlers fired complete games while not allowing a single earned run during Friday evening’s doubleheader in Mitchell, S.D. The Bulldogs swept the twin bill, winning by scores of 9-0 and 3-1 on a day when the stakes were raised significantly.
With one day left to go, third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is all alone in first place with a conference record of 18-8. At 29-18 overall, Concordia has broken a school record for wins in a single season (previously held by the 2016 team).
“Josh and Nick were both excellent,” Dupic said. “Josh was outstanding at staying focused on what he could control. He settled into a rhythm and was mixing multiple pitches. He stepped up like a senior. Nick had an excellent outing, too. He had both secondary pitches working, and when he is able to do that along with commanding the fastball it gives him multiple options to go to at all times. He was locked in. To get two wins and two complete games on the first day is huge for our pitching staff.”
Because of Prater and Little, the Bulldog offense could have just about taken the night off. Prater grabbed the ball in game 1 and allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out five in a seven-inning complete game. Little was similarly impressive. He went all nine innings of game 2, surrendering only four hits, one walk and one unearned run. He struck out just one hitter, relying on his teammates for 14 fly outs and 10 groundouts.
Prater and Little gave Dakota Wesleyan (16-28, 11-15 GPAC) no margin for error, but they committed several. The Bulldogs took advantage of four Tiger gaffes in game 1 and piled up all nine of their runs in the contest’s first four innings. Logan Ryan went 2-for-3 with a run and a pair of RBIs in game 1. Also in the opener, Jake Adams and Jason Galeano added two RBIs apiece.
Game 2 was more of the nailbiting variety with righty Patrick Whetham tossing a gem of his own. He struck out 12 Bulldog hitters over eight innings. Concordia simply needed a timely hit here and there. Jake Adams knotted the score at 1-1 with an RBI single in the fourth. Galeano singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth. An inning later, Tyler Nelson tripled and then scored on Kaleb Geiger’s sacrifice fly.
What it all means is that the Bulldogs own first place all to themselves with Midland (17-9) one game back and Morningside (16-10) two games behind. The Concordia baseball program last won a conference championship in 1986 when current athletic trainer Randy Baack was a junior on the team.
Dupic, assistant coach Bryce Berg and the boys can make history on Saturday when they take the diamond again in Mitchell. The doubleheader is set to get underway at 1 p.m. CT. Elsewhere, Midland will host Doane for a pair and Morningside will be at Northwestern for a twin bill.