HASTINGS, Neb. – A relief performance for the ages paved the way for the Concordia University baseball team to win a 12-inning marathon in game 1 of Thursday’s late night doubleheader at Hastings. The Bulldogs then relinquished a 6-0 lead and dropped an 8-7 decision in the night cap. It was the sixth time this season that Concordia has split a GPAC doubleheader.
While Thursday felt like something of a letdown after giving back the lead in game 2, second-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad still managed to clinch a spot in the GPAC tournament (May 5-7, 10). The Bulldogs (25-24, 10-8 GPAC), one win off a single-season program record, will make their first postseason appearance since 2012.
“We’re disappointed (we didn’t get the sweep),” Dupic said. “We’re very inconsistent. We came out strong in the second game. We thought we had it in the bag. We let down and they came back. We gave them a lot of free stuff – walks, hit batsmen, errors, all that kind of stuff. It’s the same story with pitching and defense. If we do well with that we’re pretty good.”
Lefty reliever Josh Prater emerged as the star of the night for Concordia. He entered game 1 with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth. He maintained a tie ballgame by striking out the next two hitters. The native of Colorado Springs never let go of the ball from there. He hurled the last 7.2 innings of the 12-frame affair and did not surrender a single run.
Prater struck out nine Broncos while giving up just one hit and two walks. He closed out the victory in the 12th after center fielder Alex Alstott dumped the game-winning RBI single into left in the top half of the inning.
“He did a great job. He threw the ball really well in relief,” Dupic said. “He came into a tough situation in the first inning he pitched. He got two big outs and he just rolled. He got himself comfortable out there and did a really nice job. He kept setting them down and we were able to get the big hit late.”
The Bulldogs looked primed to run away with a sweep after piling up five tallies in the first inning of game 2. Alstott, 3-for-4 with three runs in the capper, got things going with a leadoff double. RBI hits followed from Kaleb Geiger (double), Christian Montero (triple) and Taylor Dudley (single). Drew Woods drove in another via a misplayed grounder and Logan Ryan tacked on one more with a sac fly. Geiger’s RBI fly out in the second made it a 6-0 advantage.
After chipping away at the deficit, Hastings (16-32, 8-10 GPAC) took the lead in the bottom of the sixth with a four-run frame aided by two Concordia errors. Nick Williams pushed across the go-ahead run with an RBI single off Nic Seaman. The Bulldogs then threatened by putting two on with two outs in the bottom half, but Jay Kiel struck out pinch hitter Christian Meza to end the game.
Concordia fell in game 2 despite outhitting Hastings, 14-4. Second baseman Alex Cargin enjoyed a 5-for-8 day while Alstott went 4-for-9 out of the leadoff spot. Dupic used Mark Harris and Cole Jackson as starting pitchers on Thursday. They combined to eat up 9.1 innings while allowing six runs (three earned).
The Bulldogs are scheduled to turn around quickly and host Nebraska Wesleyan (11-25, 2-14 GPAC) at 1 p.m. on Friday. The final doubleheader of the GPAC regular season was originally scheduled to start at 5 p.m. but was moved up due to the possibility of evening rain showers.