HASTINGS, Neb. – The two games played in Hastings were essentially complete opposites on Thursday night. After following the lead of lefty hurler Josh Prater in game 1, the potent Concordia University baseball offense was stymied in game 2 of the doubleheader. The Bulldogs took game 1, 7-0. The host Broncos rebounded with a 9-0 victory in the night cap.
By the conclusion of Thursday’s action, Midland had pulled into a tie with Concordia for first place in the GPAC standings. Five teams are within two games of the top spot in what remains a wide open race. Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad now stands at 22-15 overall and at 11-5 in the GPAC.
“Josh Prater was as good as he’s been all year,” Dupic said. “He commanded his fastball very well. Offensively we were able to make some things happen as the game went on. I was very pleased with how we executed situationally on offense in the first game. Ryan Fesmire had another good day.”
Prater had his good stuff. He struck out 10 hitters and sprayed around six hits over 6.1 innings. He also recorded six fly ball outs and two groundouts. The reliable southpaw from Colorado Springs has surrendered more than three earned runs in only one of his eight starts this season. He was finally lifted from the game with runners on the corners in the bottom of the seventh.
The Bulldogs all but sealed up game 1 in the sixth inning when they pushed a 3-0 lead to 7-0. The outburst included a two-run double by Fesmire and an RBI single by Christian Meza. It was part of a perfect first game for Fesmire, who was 3-for-3 with a walk while also setting up on the receiving end of Prater’s gem. Meza went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in the win.
Hastings (20-16, 9-7 GPAC) then flipped the script in game 2. Concordia had gone 46-consecutive games since last being shut out on April 24 of last year. That changed on Thursday when Will Frei carved the Bulldogs up. He fired a seven-inning shutout that included nine strikeouts and just three hits allowed. Frei had a no-hitter working until Wade Council singled with two outs in the fifth inning.
“Their pitcher took it to us in game 2,” Dupic said. “We couldn’t get on base against him and get him uncomfortable until later in the game. They also constantly had runners on. We hung in there for a while, but we just couldn’t ever get any rhythm or momentum going.”
Reed Stone went 5-for-7 out of the No. 3 spot in the Hastings lineup. The Broncos outhit the Bulldogs by a count of 18-11 for the evening. Hastings, one of several teams still in the mix for the conference regular season title, has already surpassed its season win total from 2016 when it went 19-34 overall.
Freshman Nick Little got the ball in game 2 for the Bulldogs. He covered 4.2 innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits and three walks. Dupic used Jake Fosgett, Nic Seaman and Jared Schipper out of the bullpen.
The Bulldogs and Broncos will complete a four-game series on Saturday when the action shifts to Plum Creek Park in Seward. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. CT. Concordia is 4-4 at home (3-3 in conference) so far this season.