2017 - Baseball schedule/results

34-22 overall, 19-9 GPAC | Season Stats

Berg promoted to full-time assistant on baseball staff

SEWARD, Neb. – A graduate assistant coach during the 2015-16 academic year, Bryce Berg has been promoted to full-time assistant on head coach Ryan Dupic’s Concordia University baseball coaching staff. Berg will work closely with hitters and catchers. He takes over the position previously held by Jake Waddle, who resigned in early July. Berg began his first day on the new job today (Aug. 1).

An alum of NCAA Division II Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Berg will continue to pursue his master’s degree in athletic administration at Concordia. He will also serve an athletic equipment management role.

“I want to thank Coach Dupic, Director of Athletics Devin Smith, Associate Director of Athletics Angela Muller, and the entire Bulldog family for this great opportunity to serve as the assistant baseball coach,” Berg said. “Coach Dupic has a sound knowledge and passion for the game of baseball that has aided in developing a culture that will allow the recent successes of the baseball program to continue on into the future. I am extremely blessed to be a part of a program on the rise and am excited to contribute to the development of our student-athletes here at Concordia in all areas of their lives. I look forward to working for a university that is so invested in serving people and helping them reach their goals while encouraging them to go out and serve the world as Christian leaders.”

Older brother of current Bulldog infielder Casey Berg, Bryce held down first base coaching duties as one of his responsibilities in 2016. Bryce aided a staff that steered Concordia to a 28-27 overall record, breaking a program record for wins in a single season. The 2016 Bulldogs also set new school standards for runs scored, home runs, hits, pitcher strikeouts and highest GPAC regular-season finish (fourth).

As a Viking baseball player, Bryce earned second team all-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference accolades while batting .392 with eight home runs as a senior in 2015. Academically, Bryce was named to the Dean’s List for four semesters. Prior to transferring to Augustana, Bryce spent two years at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The Carroll, Iowa, native’s coaching experience includes a stint with his high school alma mater, Kuemper Catholic, as head freshman coach and varsity assistant in 2015. Bryce has also lent his services to outfits such as the Cyclones Baseball Organization, Carroll Merchants Legion Baseball and Carroll Classics Amateur Baseball.

This summer Bryce married Nicole, maiden name Williams.

Dupic’s staff also includes Nick Ginapp and Joe Carey. Ginapp specializes in infield and outfield defense while Carey serves as head coach for the junior varsity squad.

Statement from Director of Athletics Devin Smith
Coach Berg is energized and prepared to take this step in his professional career. He is inquisitive and his prior collegiate experience will help the Bulldogs in a number of areas. His engagement with the athletic department staff over the past year has been great and he is asking all the right questions to make sure this is a smooth transition into a full-time role. We are blessed to have someone on our current staff to fill this important role as an assistant coach and athletic equipment manager. 

Statement from Head Coach Ryan Dupic
“Bryce is an excellent addition to the Concordia baseball program as well as the institution. He possesses a commitment to excellence and a passion for serving student-athletes that falls in line with the mission of Concordia University. He will do a great job in recruiting and challenging our student-athletes to reach new heights. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish within our program.”

Baseball announces 50-game 2017 schedule

View 2017 schedule | PDF

SEWARD, Neb. – The third season of Ryan Dupic’s tenure as Concordia head baseball coach is slated to begin Feb. 25 with a doubleheader at Bethany College. As announced by the program on Thursday, the 2017 Bulldogs are scheduled to play 50 regular-season games, including 17 at Plum Creek Park in Seward.

A trip to Arizona for the Tucson Invitational is again a highlight of this year’s schedule. Not all details have been released for the Tucson Invitational, but Concordia is set to play a total of 10 games in The Grand Canyon State. The Bulldogs have gone a combined 15-4 in Tucson over the past two seasons.

Dupic’s squad will test itself against a pair of teams that ended 2016 with national rankings: No. 14 York College and No. 18 University of Jamestown (N.D.). Concordia will also play defending GPAC champion Midland a total of four times with a doubleheader apiece in Fremont and in Seward.

The Bulldogs will play fewer nonconference games this coming spring as the GPAC schedule expands from 20 to 28 games. The beefed up conference slate features home and away doubleheaders with not only Midland, but also Briar Cliff, Dakota Wesleyan, Doane and Hastings. The GPAC season opens up for Concordia on March 24 when Northwestern is scheduled to visit Plum Creek Park.

Under Dupic, the program has risen to new heights by breaking the school single-season record for wins in back-to-back campaigns. Concordia has gone a combined 54-45 over the last two seasons. This past May the Bulldogs came within one victory of reaching the GPAC tournament championship game. The 2016 Bulldogs also set new single-season program standards for runs scored, home runs, hits, pitcher strikeouts and highest GPAC regular-season finish (fourth).

Baseball invites contestants to Home Run Derby

Home Run Derby flyer

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball program invites you to step up to the plate and swing for the fence. For the second-straight year, head coach Ryan Dupic’s Bulldogs will host a home run derby, open to anyone and everyone, at Plum Creek Park. This year’s event is set for Friday, Sept. 23 at 5 p.m. CT. The event will also feature a throwing station with a radar gun.

To enter the Home Run Derby, contact Coach Dupic atryan.dupic@cune.edu or at 319-400-0264. All pledges must be given to Dupic prior to or on the day of the Derby. For $10, contestants will be given 10 swings. Attendees can also pay $5 to get five throws clocked by the radar gun.

A shortened fence will be set up for increased home run opportunities. Contestants will be awarded two points for hitting the ball over the regulation fence and one point for clearing the first fence. A trophy will be awarded to the winner of both the male and female contests. Last year’s winners were Bryce Berg and Nicole Dobernecker.

Home Run Derby participants are also invited to attend the Concordia baseball intrasquad scrimmages the next day (Saturday, Sept. 24). The intrasquads will begin at 10 a.m. from Plum Creek Park. All member of the 2016-17 baseball team will also be present at the Home Run Derby. Some players will participate.

Dupic's Bulldogs placed third in conference preseason ranking

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Back-to-back seasons of school record win totals has raised expectations for the Concordia University baseball program. The Bulldogs collected 62 points and checked in at No. 3 in the GPAC Baseball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released by the conference on Wednesday (Jan. 18).

Last season the Concordia baseball program tied for fourth in the conference standings with an 11-9 GPAC mark. It was the program’s highest ever finish during the GPAC era (2000-present). With a 28-27 record, the Bulldogs eclipsed the school single-season wins record that had also been broken the previous year. The 2016 squad was just one win away from reaching the conference tournament championship game.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad returns plenty of firepower from a lineup that set a new school single-season record for runs scored. First team all-conference mashers Kaleb Geiger and Christian Montero are back to form the nucleus of a potent middle of the order. Also returning are Gold Glove outfielder Jake Adams, third baseman Casey Berg, catcher Ryan Fesmire and shortstop Logan Ryan and pitchers such as lefties Taylor Bickel and Josh Prater and right-hander Neil Ryan.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to open up the new season with a doubleheader at Bethany College (Kan.) on Feb. 25.

2017 GPAC Baseball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Morningside – 77 (6)
2. Midland – 76 (4)
3. Concordia – 62
4. Northwestern – 55
5. Briar Cliff – 42
6. Doane – 36
7. Mount Marty – 34
8. Hastings – 30
9. Dakota Wesleyan – 25
10. Dordt – 13

SEASON PREVIEW: 2017 Concordia baseball

At a glance
Head coach: Ryan Dupic (54-45, 3rd year)
2016 record: 28-27 overall, 11-9 GPAC (T-4th place)
Key returners: Jake Adams (OF); Casey Berg (IF); Taylor Bickel (LHP); Ryan Fesmire (C); Kaleb Geiger (IF); Josh Prater (LHP); Logan Ryan (SS); Neil Ryan (RHP)
Key losses: Alex Alstott (OF); Alex Cargin (2B); Taylor Dudley (OF); Mark Harris (RHP)
Key newcomers: Wade Council (OF/LHP); Jake Fosgett (RHP); Jason Galeano (1B/DH); Steven Hernandez (OF); Nick Little (RHP); Jason Munsch (LHP); Thomas Sautel (2B)
2016 GPAC all-conference: Kaleb Geiger (first team); Christian Montero (first team); Alex Alstott (honorable mention); Casey Berg (honorable mention); Mark Harris (honorable mention); Josh Prater (honorable mention)

On the heels of back-to-back seasons with school record-breaking win totals, Concordia has the look and feel of a baseball program on the rise. The Bulldogs raised a few eyebrows last spring when they came within one victory of reaching the GPAC championship game. The strong finish likely had something to do with league coaches pegging Concordia third in the GPAC preseason poll.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic prefers high expectations. Prior to his first season at the helm of the program, the Bulldogs were picked ninth in the GPAC. Things have changed.

“It’s fun. We like it. It’s fun to be expected to do good things,” Dupic said. “I’d always rather be in that position. I think Morningside and Midland are justifiably seen as the top teams in the league. They’re very good and have played really well in years past. Our finish to last season may have had something to do with people bumping us up a little bit. I think they see us in that mix now and we see ourselves in there as well.”

The program’s revival has been spurred by an offensive attack that has set school records for runs scored in consecutive seasons. Dupic employs a dangerous middle of the order held down by the intimidating duo of first baseman Kaleb Geiger (.347 BA, 7 HR, 50 RBIs) and outfielder Christian Montero (.326, 9 HR, 50 RBIs), who will be counted upon to play the field a lot more than last season. Both first team all-conference mashers slugged better than .580 while combining for 16 home runs in 2016.

Geiger and Montero are the headliners for a veteran group of position players. Last year’s squad muscled up for a single-season school record of 38 home runs. That record could be in jeopardy in 2017.

“There will be five, six people in the lineup that will be able to consistently hit the ball over the fence,” said catcher Ryan Fesmire. “That’s what you watch on SportsCenter. You watch the home runs. This team’s going to hit a lot of home runs this year and score a lot. That’s always a fun thing to watch.”

Geiger, Montero and the likes of outfielder Jake Adams (.275, 4 HR, 32 RBI), Casey Berg (.316 BA, .427 OBP) and Fesmire (.274, .371 OBP) each have extensive collegiate playing experience. Adams earned a conference Gold Glove award and was the hero of the opening day of the GPAC tournament when he drilled two home runs, including a game-winning grand slam to beat Midland. Berg has started the past two years since transferring to Concordia from North Iowa Area Community College. Meanwhile, Fesmire is the elder statesman of the team having played in 95 games as a Bulldog. He’s always good for comic relief when times get tight.

The arrival of Jason Galeano, a transfer from the University of Illinois Springfield, brings another impact bat to the lineup. The native of Brooklyn, N.Y., connected for seven home runs in 148 at bats last year at the NCAA Division II level. Says Dupic of Galeano, “He can really swing it.”

Other position players with starting experience include outfielders Johnny May (.305 BA, .385 OBP, 4 HR) and Tyler Nelson, second baseman Christian Meza (.280 BA, .328 OBP), shortstop Logan Ryan (.266 BA .371 OBP) and catcher Drew Woods (.264, .328 OBP). May hit four homers, including a walk-off versus Briar Cliff, and swiped a team high 11 bases as a rookie. Ryan, a Johnston, Iowa, native like May, started all but two games at shortstop during his freshman season.

“At some point if you’re going to be good, you have to have juniors and seniors that play well,” Dupic said. “We’ll have a lot of juniors and seniors in the lineup this year. I think we’re a little more physical. We’re a little more offensive in nature. We can swing it. We don’t have to rely on trying to get a guy on first and sac bunting him to second. We can just go play and let our guys go hit. I think our lineup is just geared that way.”

With the wealth of returning bats, it will be difficult for newcomers to crack the regular lineup. However, Dupic mentions the likes of outfielders Wade Council and Steven Hernandez and infielder Thomas Sautel as new faces with chances of seeing time in the field. Sautel has positioned himself as a frontrunner for the second base job. Also a left-handed pitcher, Council is referred to by Dupic as a “winner.”

The pitching staff is an area where new arrivals have the most opportunity to contribute, but the leader of the staff is a veteran in lefty Josh Prater. Dupic says that Josh Prater is coming off his best offseason as a Bulldog. Prater won’t overpower hitters, but he’s become effective at keeping them off balance. He ended last season with a run of 20.2 scoreless innings in a row to lower his season ERA to 2.87. Prater is the likely No. 1 starter now with Mark Harris (3.43 ERA in 57.2 innings) having graduated.

Juniors Taylor Bickel (6.92 ERA, 40.1 innings) and Neil Ryan (6.12 ERA, 42.2 innings) are also experienced starters. Their numbers regressed last season as sophomores, but both have shown moments of brilliance. Ryan tossed six shutout innings late in the year at Doane and Bickel worked 9.1 innings in a gutty effort at Midland in his freshman campaign. Other returning arms that got significant use last season are right-handers Casey Hall (8.83 ERA, 17.1 innings), Nic Seaman (5.96 ERA, 25.2 innings), Jared Schipper (5.25 ERA, 24.0 innings) and Tanner Wauhob (9.48 ERA, 31.1 innings). Lefty Cade Moring threw only 4.1 innings in 2016, but figures to get the call more often this spring.

In order for Concordia to meet its high expectations, the pitching staff will have to take a leap forward in 2017.

“The bottom line is we have to perform better,” Dupic said. “We can’t go out there and expect us to score 11 or 12 runs to win a baseball game. It’s really on the pitchers and myself. We have to pitch better. We have to be more consistent. We have to step up and do a better job and, if we do, I think we’ll be really good.”

It may take the early portion of the season to clearly define roles on the pitching staff, but Dupic has a handle on which new hurlers will toe the rubber this season. Freshman righty Nick Little of Lithia, Fla., has made his case to be part of the starting rotation after a strong fall season. Others with the ability to factor into the mix are Council, right-hander Jake Fosgett and lefty Jason Munsch. Though a sophomore, righty Dylan DuRee is set to make his collegiate debut after sitting out last season due to an elbow injury.

If the pitching improves, it could be a fun spring at Plum Creek Park. Says Dupic, “We’re more talented. I think we have a chance to be better on the field. Our players have high expectations this year. We’re excited to go give it a shot.”

Fesmire is expecting a special year. “It’s the first time in the four years I’ve been here that we really have a shot at winning GPAC,” Fesmire said. “It would almost be a disappointment if we didn’t win GPAC. I think with what we have on the table, especially offensively, we should be pretty good.”

The Bulldogs will open up the 2017 season with a four-game series at Bethany College this weekend. Doubleheaders in Lindsborg, Kan., are slated to get started at 1 p.m. CT on both Saturday and Sunday.

More preseason thoughts from Coach Dupic

Late 2016 run

I think it was a very good momentum thing for us. I think it showed what we’re capable of. One of the things we talked about is being more consistent and being able to bring that type of energy, effort and execution each day. The conference tournament was fun. The guys played well. They were very invested in it. We pitched better. That was a big deal. We showed what we’re capable of offensively. We just played better in all facets of the game. Looking back, I think last year was tough at times. We definitely challenged ourselves with our schedule. We played a lot of really good nonconference teams because we wanted to prepare us for conference play. It made it a little bit tough and there were some ups and downs at times. I think there was a really good vibe at the end of the year. I thought it transitioned well into this fall. I thought we were a little bit better this fall.

Offensive success

It starts with recruiting. We obviously brought in some guys that were pretty offensive players like Christian Montero and other guys just to give our lineup more depth. We returned a lot of position players last year and we return a lot of guys this year. At some point if you’re going to be good, you have to have juniors and seniors that play well. We’ll have a lot of juniors and seniors in the lineup this year. I think we’re a little more physical. We’re a little more offensive in nature. We can swing it. We don’t have to rely on trying to get a guy on first and sac bunting him to second. We can just go play and let our guys go hit. I think our lineup is just geared that way.

Geiger and Montero

It’s fun to think about. They’re both great kids and they’re very talented players, very strong. When the other team comes in to play, I’m sure they’re thinking, ‘We have to make sure we handle these guys.’ It’s a really nice thing to have a middle of the order that you feel is dangerous. I think both are capable of doing really special things. If we can get them clicking at the same time it should be a lot of fun. I think we probably have a little bit better depth in front of them and behind them, which should help a lot, too. We don’t want to put pressure on them and say that they have to carry us, but there’s no question being able to write them in the lineup every day is a nice thing.

Other veterans (Adams, Berg, Fesmire, etc)

They’ve played a lot of baseball. They understand what they’re getting into. They know how this works. They have great experience. Casey’s been a very consistent player for two years now for us. We’ll really be looking for him to set the table at the top of the lineup. Jake is a guy that, last year was so good for him to get that under his belt to get back into the swing of things. He didn’t play baseball for a year so he was just getting back into it. He’s just such a steady guy and a good kid. Fesmire is the same. We have high expectations for them. They’re seniors and they’ve all played for multiple years. It’s a matter of them going out and executing. If we can get them going, it will lengthen our lineup.


Pitching is the key. We didn’t pitch well enough last year. We feel good about Nick Little, a freshman from Florida. He’s been very good for us. He had a great fall. From the time he came in, he’s just done everything he needs to do to be able to be a rotation guy. Josh Prater probably had the best offseason he’s had since he’s been at Concordia. He had a great summer. He played in a really good league and had a good fall. We need both of those two a lot in terms of our starting rotation. Neil Ryan is a guy who has pitched for us for two years and will be in that rotation again. We need him to step forward. He’s been very good so far in January and February so that’s good to see. After that it’s going to be some younger guys and a few returners. Jason Munsch is a freshman we really like. Cade Moring has made some big progress. So has Nic Seaman. Jake Fosgett is a freshman we like. Dylan Duree is a sophomore that has worked really hard and will pitch for us. He did not throw last year. He had a little bit of an elbow issue. He has really come on well. Tanner Wauhob pitched well for us in the conference tournament. Our depth is better.

We can talk all we want. The bottom line is we have to perform better. We can’t go out there and expect us to score 11 or 12 runs to win a baseball game. It’s really on the pitchers and myself. We have to pitch better. We have to be more consistent. We have to step up and do a better job and if we do, I think we’ll be really good.

Pitching roles

We are trying to figure out the closer spot. I think Cade Moring and Nic Seaman are guys with the capability of doing it. I think Dylan Duree could do it at times. There is another guy or two, but I think we need to let them get some experience first. One of the things we’re going to have to do is be more flexible in our bullpen. Guys are going to have to be ready to pitch when their name is called. I’m not sure if we’ll start the season with a set closer, but we think we have guys capable of getting outs.


Offensively we have a lot of returners, so it’s tough to crack the lineup right now. Jason Galeano is a transfer at semester that can really swing it and will play for us. We like him a lot. We think he’ll have a good year for us. We have a couple of guys pushing like Wade Council and Steven Hernandez. They do a nice job in the outfield. You’re going to see a lot of newcomers on the mound – Nick Little, Jake Fosgett and Jason Munsch. Wade is a winner. He can move around and play all over and he can swing it. You’re going to see those guys. There are some other freshmen pushing for time. I think you’re going to see some new guys on the mound that can help us a little bit. Brook Stewart is another guy who transferred and is in the mix. We’ll probably see it more in pitching than in the lineup. That makes sense. We’re a little further ahead offensively.

Establishing culture

It’s a hard thing to do. You get so much tunnel vision with where you’re at, especially this time of year. It’s just so hard to step back and think about it. I’m very thankful. It’s coming along very well. It’s a different program now than it was before. It doesn’t mean it was bad before, it just means we’re moving forward. It’s been very good. I have great trust in our players. I think they’re really good kids. They’re doing the things they’re supposed to do, and I’m pleased with that. Our culture is much improved, but it’s a people-driven thing. All that said, we’re more talented. I think we have a chance to be better on the field. Our players have high expectations this year. We’re excited to go give it a shot.

Higher expectations

It’s fun. We like it. It’s fun to be expected to do good things. I’d always rather be in that position. I think Morningside and Midland are justifiably seen as the top teams in the league. They’re very good and have played really well in years past. Our finish to last season may have had something to do with people bumping us up a little bit. I think they see us in that mix now and we see ourselves in there as well. There’s just a lot of work to be done and a lot of baseball to be played. We have to keep our head down and keep focusing every day and keep trying to get better.

Little tosses gem in season-opening split

LINDSBORG, Kan. – It was a long season-opening day at the ballpark for the Concordia University baseball team, which outlasted host Bethany College, 5-4, in a 12-inning game 1. The Swedes then rallied for a 6-5 victory in the second game of Saturday afternoon’s doubleheader in Lindsborg, Kan.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad had the task of going up against a Bethany team that already had 14 games under its belt. He liked the way his team responded.

“I thought it went pretty well. I think we’re a little further along than I thought we would be,” Dupic said. “We pitched very well. Nick Little was really, really good. I thought we had some pretty good at bats at times. I was really happy with the way we competed. I really wish we could have gotten that second one, but it wasn’t too bad.”

Dupic had the confidence to give Little the ball as the team’s No. 1 starter. The freshman righty from Lithia, Colo., covered the first eight innings of the marathon opener. He surrendered only two runs on seven hits and one walk. He had a shutout working into the sixth inning until Irving Ocasio connected on a two-run homer with two outs in the frame.

The Bulldogs entered 2017 feeling good about what they possess from an offensive perspective. The hope is that Little’s emergence will help solidify a pitching staff that was inconsistent in 2016.

“He’s such a steady kid,” Dupic said of Little. “He never changes emotion. From the day that he came here, he just placed himself among the best on our staff. He makes pitches. He’s always under control. He commands the ball. He changes speed. Today he was one pitch away from throwing a shutout. We’re glad to have him.”

In game 1, Concordia relinquished a 3-2, 10th-inning lead, but atoned by putting up a pair of runs in the top of the 12th. Newcomer Jason Galeano made it a 4-3 game with an RBI single that plated Kaleb Geiger. Jake Adams tacked on with a sacrifice fly that drove home Galeano.

That extra run proved crucial when an unearned run came across in the bottom of the 12th with Wade Council on the bump. Council threw the final four innings after Little finished his day. The game came to a conclusion when a Swede baserunner was tagged out by catcher Ryan Fesmire on the final play. That gave Council his first career collegiate victory.

Fesmire singled four times in game 1. Additionally, Kaleb Geiger drilled a two-run homer and Galeano was 3-for-6 with a pair of RBIs in the opener. Galeano then reached base three more times with three walks in game 2.

Senior left-hander Josh Prater took the mound in game 2. After allowing three runs in the first inning, he settled in and pitched four scoreless frames in a row before running into trouble in the sixth. He fired 5.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks. He struck out six. Dylan DuRee and Nic Seaman worked in relief of Prater. Seaman was tagged with the loss when a Dalton Bidon single chased in the walk-off run in the bottom of the seventh.

Galeano was one of seven Bulldogs to make their debuts in a Concordia uniform. The top six in the lineup in both games were Casey Berg (third base), Christian Montero (right field), Geiger (first base), Galeano (DH), Adams (center field), Tyler Nelson (left field) and Thomas Sautel (second base).

The Swedes (11-5) appear to be a much-improved team after going 25-32 last season. Bethany is a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The Bulldogs and Swedes will complete their four-game series with another doubleheader (a nine-inning game and then a seven-inning game) on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. CT.

Concordia drops pair at Bethany

LINDSBORG, Kan. – On the final day of a four-game series at Bethany College (Kan.), the Concordia University baseball team fell by scores of 18-6 and 5-4. The previous day, the Bulldogs defeated the Swedes, 5-4, in 12 innings before a 6-5 loss in game 2.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad now stands at 1-3 overall on the young season.

“The first game just got away from us,” Dupic said. “They swung the bats well. We kind of emptied the bullpen and tried to get guys some opportunities and see what we have. I actually thought we were pretty good offensively in the first game, we just didn’t pitch well enough. The second game was a quality baseball game. I thought the guys played well and had good at bats.”

The third one-run game of the weekend series ended in walk-off fashion when a fly ball to right field fell in and chased Joel Quinones to the plate. Taylor Nielson was credited with a game-winning RBI single on the play and the Swedes (13-5) celebrated a series win.

Freshman lefty Jason Munsch got the start on the mound in game 2. The Bulldogs held a 4-3 lead when Munsch was lifted after issuing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth. Concordia turned around a 3-0 deficit by pushing across one run in each of the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. Jake Adams put the Bulldogs on the board with a run-scoring triple. Additional runs came across on a Kaleb Geiger sacrifice fly, a Thomas Sautel single and a Geiger single.

It was a productive day for Adams, the team’s center fielder and No. 5 hitter in the lineup. He went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI in the second game. He also reached base twice in game 1 by drawing two walks. At the top of the order, third baseman Casey Berg went 2-for-4 with a run in game 1. In that same contest, left fielder Wade Council went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. The Bulldogs totaled seven hits in both ends of the twin bill.

Dupic mixed in nine different pitchers throughout the day. Junior righty Neil Ryan took the ball in game 1. He was tagged for 11 runs on nine hits and three walks over three frames.

Dupic expects Concordia’s bats to heat up as the season progresses. “At times we can really string some good at bats together, especially in the top part of our order,” Dupic said. “We want to continue to lengthen our lineup a little bit. For the most part, we were pretty good defensively this weekend. We have some pitchers that did a nice job. We really wanted to get some opportunities for different guys. Coming home 1-3 doesn’t feel that great, but I definitely saw some good things that we can build upon.”

The Tucson Invitational is up next for the Bulldogs. They will begin play in Arizona on Saturday, March 4 when they take on Grand View University (Iowa) (4-2) in a doubleheader. Concordia is scheduled to play 10 games in Tucson between March 4 – 10.

Geiger homers twice, Bulldogs sweep Grand View in the desert

TUCSON, Ariz. – First baseman Kaleb Geiger slugged two more homers and the Concordia University baseball team got two complete game pitching performances in a doubleheader wipe out of Grand View University (Iowa) on Saturday evening. In their debut at the 2017 Tucson Invitational, the Bulldogs topped the Vikings by scores of 12-6 and 5-1.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has evened up its overall record at 3-3. Concordia is scheduled to play eight more times before leaving The Grand Canyon State.

The Bulldogs came out swinging in Tucson while also having a field day stealing bases. Center fielder Jake Adams collected three hits and Tyler Nelson added two more in the game 1 outburst that included one of Geiger’s two homers on the day. In game 2, Casey Berg broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh with an RBI single. Geiger added the insurance with another big fly.

The pitching was also stellar. Freshman Nick Little, making his second career start, allowed only two earned runs in his seven-inning complete game in the opening contest. Senior lefty Josh Prater then tossed every inning of game 2. Said Dupic, “It was a good day. We got two complete games and got to play in the stadium.”

A significant test awaits on Sunday when the Bulldogs challenge 16th-ranked University of Jamestown (N.D.) (10-1) in another twin bill. First pitch is set for 9 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. CT.

Montero delivers game-winning hit in split with No. 16 Jamestown

TUCSON, Ariz. – On day two of its spring break excursion in Tucson, Ariz., the Concordia University baseball team went toe-to-toe with 16th-ranked University of Jamestown (N.D.), a future member of the GPAC. In Sunday’s doubleheader with the Jimmies, the Bulldogs rebounded from a 5-3 game 1 loss with a 4-1 come-from-behind win in a contest that went to extra innings.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is now 3-1 on the road trip and stands at 4-4 overall this season.

“It was a good win for us,” Dupic said. “Jamestown is an excellent team and very well coached. I’m very proud that we were able to get that second game. To play 15 innings today and be right there with them was a good thing to see.

“I think our guys enjoyed playing and playing for each other. We gave up that one run (of game 2) late, so it was big for us to be able to respond. We talked a lot about just staying in the game and competing. They did a great job of that today.”

Concordia trailed 1-0 in the seventh inning (last scheduled inning) of game 2. That’s when Christian Montero led off the frame with a single, moved to second on a groundout and stole third base. Jason Galeano then knotted the game with a base hit to score Montero. In the eighth, Montero drove in the game-winning run with a double that scored Jake Taylor (two-out walk). With runners on second and third, Kaleb Geiger hit a screamer that eluded the Jamestown third baseman and brought in two insurance runs.

Throwing in relief, Nic Seaman recorded the final five outs of the game and earned the win. Seaman (two strikeouts, no hits) followed Cade Moring (1.1 innings, two strikeouts) out of the bullpen. Freshman Jason Munsch started game 2 and worked four scoreless innings. In the opening game of the twin bill, Neil Ryan tossed 3.2 innings before giving way to Taylor Bickel and Tanner Wauhob. Said Dupic, “We pitched and defended better today, especially in the second game.”

Montero enjoyed a big day at the plate, going a combined 4-for-7 with a pair of doubles and a stolen base. In game 1, Casey Berg went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Also in the first game, Wade Council had a base hit and was hit by a pitch.

On paper, Grand View University (Saturday’s opponent) and Jamestown (11-2) were pegged to be two of Concordia’s most challenging opponents over the 10-game trip in Tucson. The Bulldogs took two from the Vikings yesterday, winning by scores of 12-6 and 5-1.

Action at the Tucson Invitational continues on Monday when Concordia will take on the University of Winnipeg (0-7) at 3 p.m. MT / 4 p.m. CT in one nine-inning affair. The Bulldogs will be on field 7 at the Kino Sports Complex.

School record broken in trouncing of Winnipeg

TUCSON, Ariz. – The school record for most runs scored in a single game had stood for 14 years until the Concordia University baseball team put 31 on the board on Monday. The Bulldogs piled up 18 hits and took 18 walks in a 31-8 pummeling of the University of Winnipeg in action that took place at the Tucson Invitational.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is off to a rousing start in the desert. Concordia is now 4-1 on the road trip and has improved to 5-4 overall.

With Dupic tending to a medical situation back home, assistant Bryce Berg stood in as the point person on Monday. It was obvious on Sunday that the team rallied behind Dupic, who was able to be present for the first four games of the Tucson trip.

“The Jamestown games there was more a sign of wanting to win for him,” Berg said. “With it being his sending off game (before flying back to Nebraska), the guys wanted to send him off on a good note. I think we’re just starting to piece it together as a baseball team. Offensively the guys have been really good and are starting to hone in on their approach.”

When Wesmen pitchers did throw strikes, Bulldog hitters pounced. Johnny May, Christian Montero and Jake Taylor all homered in the victory. In addition, Wade Council cleaned up with a 4-for-7 day that included a double, triple and five RBIs. Jason Galeano went 3-for-4 with two walks and an RBI, Christian Meza went 4-for-7 with a double and three RBIs, May was 2-for-3 with a double, a homer and three RBIs and Taylor was 2-for-3 with a double, homer, three walks and five RBIs.

Concordia is now averaging 11 runs per game halfway through its 10-game Tucson road trip.

“We talked a little bit before the game about focusing in. We knew that team had walked a lot of guys,” Berg said. “The way there pitchers would have beaten us is if we tried to do too much early in counts and expand the strike zone. We did that a little bit, but as the game went on we did better at getting our pitch and barreling it up. We had baserunners everywhere the entire game.”

Freshman Logan Horton of Fullerton, Calif., started and threw the first two innings. The Bulldogs trotted out seven different pitchers during the course of nine innings. May made his first career start behind the plate and caught all nine frames.

The previous school record for most runs scored in a single game was 27 by the 2003 team that defeated Nebraska Wesleyan, 27-4, on March 25, 2003. Last season’s Bulldog squad owns the program standard for most runs scored in a single year (395).

Concordia has Tuesday (March 7) off before returning to action on Wednesday when it will play NCAA Division II Malone University (Ohio). First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m. MT / 2:30 p.m. CT.

Bullpen shines in loss to NCAA Division II Malone

TUCSON, Ariz. – The work of relievers Tanner Wauhob and Cade Moring helped the Concordia University baseball team hang tight after an early deficit, but NCAA Division II Malone University (Ohio) held off the Bulldogs, 3-2, in a nine-inning game that took place in Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday afternoon.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is now 4-2 at the Tucson Invitational and 5-5 overall this season.

“I thought we competed really well,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “The guy on the mound for them was 84-87 (miles per hour) with a good breaking ball. He was a good pitcher. We competed really well and our bullpen was phenomenal. They came in and did exactly what they needed to do to keep us in the game. It was a tough loss for the guys, but we played a good ball club.”

Concordia’s first run came on a Christian Meza pinch hit RBI base knock. Thomas Sautel drove in another run with an RBI single. Then in the ninth, the Bulldogs appeared poised to tie it up, but Christian Montero’s long drive to center was flagged down to end the game with a runner on second base. Concordia also missed an opportunity in the first when third baseman Casey Berg led off with double before being left stranded.

Denver, Colo., native Desmond Pineda struggled with his command early in his first career collegiate start. He settled in and went 4.2 innings before handing the ball to Wauhob, who worked 2.1 innings of scoreless ball. Moring retired the side in order in his one inning on the mound.

At the plate, Berg went 2-for-5 with a double. Kaleb Geiger was 2-for-4 with a double of his own.

The Bulldogs have four games remaining on their Tucson Invitational schedule. On Thursday, they will play one seven-inning game with both Waldorf University (Iowa) (9 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. CT) and Valley City State University (N.D.) (3 p.m. MT / 4 p.m. CT). Concordia will complete its run in Arizona with a doubleheader on Friday.

Berg, Galeano and company muscle up for school record in the desert

TUCSON, Ariz. – In Thursday’s action at the Tucson Invitational, the Concordia University baseball team put on a powerful display, belting a school single-game record six home runs in a 21-6 win over Waldorf University (Iowa). A more challenging assignment in the afternoon resulted in a 3-2 loss that came at the hands of Valley City State University (N.D.).

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad now stands at 6-6 overall. The Bulldogs are 5-3 in Tucson with two games left on the road trip.

“It was a good day offensively,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “We got off to a little bit of a rocky start on the mound. We got down 5-0 in the top of the first and then got six back in the bottom half. Casey (Berg) did a really nice job of setting the table. Christian Montero had some nice at bats. Jason (Galeano) finally had some better luck. He’s been hitting the ball hard, but right at people.

“We had guys all over the lineup that came in and were ready to go. This is probably the best we’ve looked as an overall offense from top to bottom. Guys are staying disciplined and hitting their pitch.”

The left-handed hitting Berg took the first offering he saw on Thursday over the right field wall to open up the bottom of the first. In a rare feat, he then blasted a grand slam later that inning as Concordia batted around. Galeano also connected for two of his three homers on the day against Waldorf pitching. Additionally, Jake Taylor mashed a grand slam and Jake Adams added another homer.

The Bulldogs collected 18 hits while putting up video game numbers in the day’s first game. Christian Meza went 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Galeano went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs. Berg went 2-for-3 with two home runs and five RBIs. Taylor went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs. Montero went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and a hit by pitch. Wade Council went 2-for-5. Finally, Ryan Fesmire went 1-for-1 and drew three walks.

Unfortunately, the prolific run scoring did not carry over to the next game.

“We saw a good arm. He mixed pitches really well,” Berg said. “Our guys stayed the course and got better as the game went on. The ball didn’t bounce our way. We didn’t execute well enough with runners in scoring position."

Concordia came within an eyelash of tying the Vikings in the seventh and final inning. With a runner on third, Galeano drilled a line drive that caromed off the pitcher and rolled to the third baseman, who fired to first for the game’s final out. In that seventh frame, Montero had put Concordia within a run with an RBI double.

Berg ended up with a 4-for-6 day after adding two more hits in the second game. He entered the day with only one career home run as a Bulldog. Galeano boomed his first three homers for Concordia after transferring from the University of Illinois Springfield. His home run against Valley City State came on the eighth pitch of the at bat.

On the mound, freshman Nick Little took the ball against Waldorf. He surrendered all six runs, but settled down after his shaky first inning and got the win. Casey Hall pitched three scoreless innings in relief and struck out four. Senior lefty Josh Prater went up against Valley City State. Two of the three runs he allowed (all in the third inning) were unearned. Prater went 4.1 innings. Nic Seaman covered the final 1.2 innings and kept Concordia within striking distance.

Friday will mark the end of Concordia’s 10-game tour at the Tucson Invitational. The day will bring a doubleheader with Presentation College (S.D.). First pitch is set for 9 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. CT from the Kino Sports Complex. The Bulldogs will be on field 4 of the complex.

Bulldogs conclude Tucson Invite with doubleheader sweep of Presentation

TUCSON, Ariz. – Jake Adams and the Bulldog offense kept on raking, Jason Munsch tossed zeroes on the mound and the Concordia University baseball team ended the Tucson Invitational with two more victories. In Friday’s action in the desert, the Bulldogs took games from Presentation College (S.D.) by scores of 11-5 and 9-3.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad now sits at 8-6 overall. Concordia went 7-3 on the road trip, during which it piled up exactly 100 runs.

“Approach-wise, we continue to get better at being all in on the pitch that we’re looking for,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “This was a really good week for guys to start to get comfortable and get a lot of at bats at a time. Our depth has continued to improve and I think that was showcased again today. We have a lot of guys playing pretty good baseball. Different guys are stepping up and that’s all you can really ask for as a coach.”

As prolific as the offensive attack has been lately, Berg was just as encouraged by the work of Munsch, a freshman left-hander from Campbell, Calif. He covered the first five innings of game 1, struck out four and only three hits, one walk and no runs.

“Munsch was really good today,” Berg said. “It really helps when you get a good outing out of your starting pitcher. “He was really good. I don’t want all the hitters to take credit, because he went five shutout innings and set the table for us on the mound.”

Concordia gave its pitchers plenty of support with a combined 20 runs on 32 hits for the day. In game 1, seven Bulldogs rapped out two hits apiece: Adams (2-for-2, home run, RBI, two runs), Wade Council (2-for-3, walk, run), Ryan Fesmire (2-for-4), Kaleb Geiger (2-for-4, double, three RBIs), Christian Montero (2-for-4, double, two RBIs, run), Logan Ryan (2-for-4, triple, two runs, two RBIs) and Thomas Sautel (2-for-4, home run, RBI, two runs).

Adams ended up a perfect 6-for-6 on Friday after going 4-for-4 with two runs driven home in the second game. Also in game 2, other leading hitters were Casey Berg (4-for-5, two runs), Ryan (2-for-3, RBI) and Geiger (2-for-4, walk, two runs).

During the course of the Arizona trip, Concordia broke two single-game school records – one for runs scored (31 versus the University of Winnipeg) and another for home runs (six versus Waldorf University). The bats are clicking.

“We still have things we need to improve upon offensively,” Berg said. “We’re going to go to work on that next week. Overall I’m really proud of the way the guys competed. It was nice to get off to get off to a better start today in both games.”

Three different Bulldog pitchers navigated the seven innings of game 2. Neil Ryan started and allowed two runs (both earned) in three innings. Cade Moring allowed one run and struck out three while going two innings. Council then tossed two clean innings without a hit or walk to close out the road trip.

Friday’s opponent, Presentation, is a member of the North Star Athletic Association. The Saints now sit at 6-12 overall.

Concordia is scheduled to return to action next Friday (March 17) when it will host a single game with both Nebraska Wesleyan University and 16th-ranked University of Jamestown (N.D.). The Bulldogs split a doubleheader in Arizona with Jamestown, a future member of the GPAC.

Bulldogs set to make home debut on Friday

SEWARD, Neb. – The offensively potent Concordia University baseball team is bringing its act to Plum Creek Park on Friday. Idle since finishing their road trip at the Tucson Invitational on March 10, the Bulldogs have a busy weekend ahead with four games spread over three days.

This week’s slate:

  • Friday, March 17 vs. Nebraska Wesleyan, 1 p.m. (Plum Creek Park)
  • Friday, March 17 vs. University of Jamestown, 4 p.m. (Plum Creek Park)
  • Saturday, March 18 vs. Jamestown, 4 p.m. (Woods Park in Lincoln)
  • Sunday, March 19 at Nebraska Wesleyan, 4 p.m. (Woods Park in Lincoln)

Friday’s games will be streamed live on the Concordia Sports Network.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is coming off of a 7-3 road trip during which it defeated then 16th-ranked Jamestown as part of a doubleheader split on March 5. Over the 10-game run in Tucson, Concordia broke two program single-game records. The Bulldogs busted loose for a new program standard of 31 runs in a 31-8 win over the University of Winnipeg and then smashed the home run record by hitting six long balls in the 21-6 victory over Waldorf University (Iowa).

Eight different players have hit at least one home run for Concordia. Jason Galeano and Kaleb Geiger have three home runs apiece and three others have exactly two home runs: Jake Adams, Casey Berg and Jake Taylor. Berg accomplished a rare feat by hitting two home runs in a single inning versus Waldorf. The third baseman from Manning, Iowa, eclipsed 100 career hits as a Bulldog last week. He’s 11-for-20 over the past five games.

Adams has gotten off to a torrid start. Among Bulldog regulars, the 2016 GPAC Gold Glove award winner is the team’s leading hitter with a .440 batting average. He’s slugging .750 and has six extra base hits (three doubles, two homers, one triple) in 13 games played. Berg is hitting .380 and outfielder Christian Montero is hitting .352. He’s already roped nine doubles in 54 at bats.

Concordia scored exactly 100 runs while in Arizona. Collectively, the Bulldogs are batting .322 with 15 home runs, a .436 on-base percentage and a .523 slugging percentage. Nationally, Concordia ranks 13th in runs per game (8.6), 14th in slugging percentage, 25th in hits per game (10.1) and 34th in batting average.

On the mound, Dupic has turned to freshman right-hander Nick Little and senior left-hander Josh Prater as his Nos. 1 and 2 starters. Little has made three starts and is 2-0 with a 4.74 ERA over 19 innings. Meanwhile, Prater is 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings. Wade Council has gotten the most work out of the bullpen and has not allowed an earned run in six innings pitched. As a staff, Concordia owns a 4.59 ERA.

Now its first season as a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NCAA Division III), Nebraska Wesleyan is 7-5 this season. In their final year in the GPAC, the Prairie Wolves placed last with a 3-17 conference mark. Nebraska Wesleyan pitchers sport a 2.68 ERA. Its leading hitter is Kyle Hunter (15-for-35 with four RBIs). Currently a member of the North Star Athletic Association, the Jimmies (14-7) have fallen outside the top 25 after three-straight losses. Landon Uetz is hitting .367 with four home runs and 17 RBIs as a standout in the heart of the Jamestown lineup.

The Bulldogs will also play a doubleheader at Friends University on March 21 before beginning conference play March 24-25 with home twin bills versus Northwestern and Dordt.

Bulldogs blast Prairie Wolves, fall to Jimmies

SEWARD, Neb. – Slugging first baseman Kaleb Geiger reached base in all five plate appearances as part of an 11-4 home-opening victory over Nebraska Wesleyan in Friday’s afternoon contest at Plum Creek Park in Seward. In the day’s second game, the Concordia University baseball team dropped a 12-2 decision to visiting University of Jamestown (N.D.).

The loss to the Jimmies (15-7) snapped a four-game win streak for third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad. The Bulldogs are now 9-7 overall.

Senior lefty Josh Prater went seven strong innings and Concordia jumped on top early by scoring at least one run in each of the first four frames of the day.

“I thought Josh threw the ball well and we had a lot of really good at bats,” Dupic said of the win. “It wasn’t like we had 20 hits the first game. We had good at bats in the right situations. We got on base on some different ways and then just had some really productive at bats.”

The Prairie Wolves (7-6), in their first year as a member of the NCAA Division III Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, couldn’t figure out Geiger. The native of Sedalia, Colo., homered, was hit by a pitch, walked, tripled and then doubled off Nebraska Wesleyan pitching. Geiger has already struck for four home runs and a total of nine extra base hits this season.

An offensive attack that entered the weekend averaging nearly nine runs per game has shown it can be lethal.

“We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve had some good games and bad games,” Geiger said. “But when we’re on, it can be scary.”

Casey Berg also tucked a three-run homer inside the right field foul pole in the second inning of the victory. Concordia added one more long ball in the night cap when Ryan Fesmire’s drive to right went off the glove of a Jimmie outfielder and landed on the other side of the fence. The Bulldogs have belted 18 homers in the season’s first 16 games.

Prater has been the team’s most stable option in the rotation. On Friday, the native of Colorado Springs, Colo., gave up four runs (one earned) and struck out eight Prairie Wolves before turning the ball over to Desmond Pineda for scoreless eighth and ninth innings.

“He was good,” Dupic said. “He had all of his pitches working. It starts with his fastball. He did a really nice job. That’s what we expect from him.”

Geiger (3-for-3, three runs, two RBIs), Thomas Sautel (3-for-4, two runs), Berg (2-for-4, two runs, three RBIs) and Jason Galeano (2-for-4, run, RBI) each had multiple hits against Nebraska Wesleyan. In the second game, the Bulldogs finally mustered their first hit in the sixth inning while dealing with Jamestown ace Jerome Byndloss, who struck out six and allowed only three hits and two runs (one earned) in 7.1 innings.

Concordia had split a doubleheader with the then 16th-ranked Jimmies at the Tucson Invitational on March 5. In Friday’s meeting, freshman right-hander Nick Little was tagged with the loss. The star of the game was Scooter Turin, who went 3-for-3 and drilled a pair of two-run homers. Kory Wolden went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs as part of his team’s 13-hit attack.

The Bulldogs will be at Woods Park in Lincoln the next two days for single games. On Saturday, Concordia will again play Jamestown in Lincoln at 4 p.m. CT. The start of Sunday’s game against Nebraska Wesleyan has been moved up an hour to 3 p.m.

Council shuts out Jamestown; Fesmire walks it off

LINCOLN, Neb. – Head coach Ryan Dupic wanted to see better team defense after the Bulldogs surrendered five unearned runs during Friday’s action at Plum Creek Park. He got exactly that. Freshman left-handed starting pitcher Wade Council benefited from excellent work behind him while scattering 11 hits in a 1-0 blanking of the University of Jamestown (N.D.) on Saturday. The seven-inning contest took place at Woods Park in Lincoln, Neb.

Dupic’s squad moved to 10-7 overall. It has split four games this season with the Jimmies (15-8), a member of the North Star Athletic Association and future GPAC rival.

“It’s been a little bit inconsistent so far this year for us,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg of the team’s defensive play. “We haven’t necessarily defended the way that we’ve wanted to, but today was a major step forward. We had multiple guys make plays. (Christian) Montero was really good in the outfield and (center fielder) Jake Adams made some plays. It was just a much cleaner baseball game.

“Wade did a good job of keeping their hitters off balance. Of the hits he gave up, only two were for extra bases.”

Council stranded a total of eight runners in his first career complete game and first collegiate shutout. He made big pitches in big spots, struck out six Jamestown hitters and walked only one. Of course, he couldn’t have done it alone.

Mostly a designated hitter last season, Montero has showcased a big arm from right field so far this season. He gunned down two runners at the plate. His second outfield assist prevented Scotter Turin from giving Jamestown the lead in the top of the seventh. Adams also erased a Jimmie baserunner at the dish.

The receiver on the end of those hoses was senior catcher Ryan Fesmire, who is playing his best baseball. He came through with two of his team’s three hits. In a dramatic finish, Fesmire strode to the batter’s box with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the seventh. He laced the first pitch he saw into the gap for a walk-off single that scored Adams, who had bunted for a hit to get the frame started.

Fesmire, 2-for-3 at the plate, has significantly improved his ability to throw out would-be base stealers. He took out another runner on Saturday and has a 58.3 percent success rate throwing out potential thieves.

“He’s been really good offensively. He’s just playing really good baseball right now,” Berg said of Fesmire.

Concordia had only three singles off of Chase Thometz. However, the Bulldogs also drew five walks and stole two bases (Adams and Casey Berg). On the flip side, Kory Wolden went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot for Jamestown. He was stranded at second twice and third once.

Concordia will close its weekend with another single game at Woods Park in Lincoln at 3 p.m. CT on Sunday. Host Nebraska Wesleyan (7-7) will serve as the opponent. The Bulldogs topped the Prairie Wolves, 11-4, at Plum Creek Park on Friday.

Concordia run rules Nebraska Wesleyan

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball team trotted a small village worth of runners around the base paths while demolishing host Nebraska Wesleyan on Sunday. The Bulldogs racked up 12 hits and drew nine walks and three hit-by-pitches in a 15-4, seven-inning victory at Woods Park in Lincoln, Neb.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad won three of its four weekend games, taking both contests from the former GPAC rival Prairie Wolves. Concordia has moved to 11-7 overall.

“Early in the game we drove some balls really well with Casey (Berg) and then multiple doubles in that first inning,” Dupic said. “That made them maybe a little more careful as the game went on. We got to their bullpen very early. When you can do that deep into a weekend, you’re putting yourself in a good situation. Our hitters did a nice job of having good approaches and not expanding the strike zone.”

Senior Casey Berg set the tone for the day by belting a home run in the first at bat of the game. The Bulldogs added two more runs in the top of the first when Kaleb Geiger, Jake Adams and Tyler Nelson each doubled in a span of four hitters. The onslaught was just getting started. Concordia blew the game open with an eight-run fourth inning that featured eight walks and three hit batters. Jake Taylor helped keep the merry-go-round spinning with a three-run triple.

Berg (2-for-4, two runs, stolen base) and Nelson (2-for-3) notched two hits apiece. Adams and Geiger had nearly identical numbers. They both went 1-for-2 with a double, three walks and three runs. Eight different Bulldogs scored at least one run and seven drove in at least one run. Taylor and Ryan Fesmire both collected three RBIs. Jason Galeano and Christian Meza produced two RBIs each.

All that offense provided plenty of support for freshman left-handed pitcher Jason Munsch. The native of Campbell, Calif., had a hiccup in the third inning (three runs), but struck out nine Prairie Wolves over his five frames. All three runs off Munsch came on a home run hit by Kyle Hunter. Munsch allowed two hits and three walks before turning it over to the bullpen. Nic Seaman tossed a scoreless sixth and Cade Moring retired the side in order in the seventh.

“His stuff was really good today,” Dupic said of Munsch. “He missed some spots at times, but his stuff was really, really good.

Prairie Wolf starting pitcher Micah Hoage made it through three innings and was charged with four runs (all earned). Nick Bruno followed him and surrendered seven runs while struggling to find the plate in 0.2 innings.

Concordia showed this weekend how it can win in different ways. The Bulldogs scored a combined 26 runs in their two wins over Nebraska Wesleyan (7-9) and also claimed a 1-0 victory over Jamestown (16-7) on Saturday. Concordia managed to shut out the Jimmies despite allowing 11 hits.

Taking three of four qualifies as a successful weekend.

“If you can win three out of four games every weekend then you get to play baseball for a long time,” Dupic said. “We just tried to stay steady and continue to compete. I see us getting better. I see us making progress. We have to continue to stay the course.”

A trip to Friends University (Kan.) (16-10) is up next for the Bulldogs. Concordia will be in Wichita, Kan., for a 2 p.m. CT doubleheader on Tuesday. The Bulldogs will be back at Plum Creek Park next Friday and Saturday.

High-scoring Concordia hits road before opening GPAC play

SEWARD, Neb. – One more nonconference date awaits before the Concordia University baseball team opens up the conference schedule this weekend. The Bulldogs will be challenged on Tuesday with a road trip to Friends University (Kan.) for a 2 p.m. CT doubleheader in Wichita, Kan. Concordia then makes a return to Plum Creek to host Northwestern at 2 p.m. on Friday and Dordt at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

This week’s schedule
*All doubleheaders
Tuesday, March 21 – at Friends University (16-10), 2 p.m.
Friday, March 24 – vs. Northwestern (9-10), 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 25 – vs. Dordt (7-10), 1 p.m.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has ridden a hot-hitting lineup to a solid 11-7 overall start. Coming off a 3-1 weekend that included two wins over Nebraska Wesleyan and one over the University of Jamestown (N.D.), the Bulldogs lead the GPAC in both runs scored per game (8.3) and home runs per game (1.1). Concordia sports a .307 average, .426 on-base percentage and .507 slugging percentage. Nine different Bulldogs have hit at least one home run.

Senior third baseman Casey Berg has effectively set the table out of the leadoff spot in Dupic’s lineup. He is 16-for-34 (.471) with four home runs, two doubles, 10 runs scored and 10 RBIs over the last nine games. Berg entered the year having hit one career home run in 70 games as a Bulldog. Additionally, senior center fielder Jake Adams has blossomed. He’s hitting .400 and slugging .667 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

The depth of the pitching staff will be tested this week. At the top of the rotation, senior lefty Josh Prater (2-1, 2.19 ERA) has provided solid work. Other than Prater, the rotation has been completely remade with the likes of freshmen Wade Council (2-0, 0.00 ERA), Nick Little (2-1, 4.68 ERA) and Jason Munsch (2-0, 3.50 ERA) have made considerable impacts. Council threw an 11-hit shutout versus Jamestown and still has yet to surrender an earned run as a collegiate pitcher. The team ERA of 4.43 is a significant improvement from the 6.12 ERA produced by the 2016 team.

This week’s first opponent, Friends, is 6-1 against GPAC opponents having won all three games over Hastings and three of four over Briar Cliff. Augie Isaacson is batting .449 with 10 doubles for the Falcons. Northwestern enters the week trying to shake a five-game losing streak. Red Raider outfielder AJ Nitzschke is off to a hot start, hitting .432 with three homers and 19 RBIs. Dordt will begin GPAC play on Friday, the day before making its way to Plum Creek Park. The Defenders are batting .306 as a team.

In next week’s action, Concordia will be at Midland (March 28) and at Mount Marty (April 1).

Live coverage: Steps are currently being taken to attempt to restore the Internet connection in the press box at Plum Creek Park. Should the Internet issues be resolved, Friday and Saturday home doubleheaders will be shown live on the Concordia Sports Network. Friends will have webcasts on Tuesday via its Stretch Internet portal.

Bulldogs surrender leads, swept at Friends

WICHITA, Kan. – Despite drawing first blood in both ends of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Concordia University baseball team left Wichita, Kan., empty handed. Host Friends University (Kan.) swept the twin bill, winning by scores of 7-3 and 10-7.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad was fresh off taking three of four weekend games. The Bulldogs slipped to 11-9 overall.

“Our offensive guys had good at bats today through both games. We squared a lot of balls up against some good pitching,” Dupic said. “We were good enough to win offensively, but we couldn’t complete the job on the other side of the ball. With the exception of Neil Ryan, our pitching wasn’t good enough and neither was our defense. We got what we deserved.”

According to the NAIA’s official conference ratings, Tuesday’s matchup featured the GPAC’s No. 2 team versus the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference’s No. 3 squad. Concordia fell in game 1 after striking first with two runs in the top of the first. After Berg led off with a walk, Christian Montero drove him in with a double. Two batters later, Montero scored on Jason Galeano’s sacrifice fly. The Bulldogs still led, 3-2, after four innings, before letting the contest get away from them.

Friends swept Concordia by pounding out 19 hits and by taking advantage of nine free passes on the day. The second game was even more frustrating than the first with the Bulldogs jumping out to a 6-0 lead, courtesy of three runs in both the second and third frames, only to cave in when the Falcons exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Concordia actually outhit Friends in game 2, 11-9. Three different Bulldogs had multiple hits in the capper: Christian Meza (3-for-4, RBI), Kaleb Geiger (2-for-4, RBI) and Galeano (2-for-4). Johnny May doubled and drove in two runs.

Ryan was the bright spot for the pitching staff. He worked 5.2 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out three. He left the game with Concordia leading 7-2. Bulldog relievers struggled mightily to get the final out of the sixth inning.

Troy Puga and Jace Snodgrass both went 4-for-6 in the doubleheader for Friends (18-10). Each of the top three Falcon hitters in the lineup had two hits in game 1.

The Bulldogs will attempt to rebound this weekend when they begin conference play. Concordia will host Northwestern (9-10) in a twin bill at 2 p.m. CT on Friday. It will then welcome Dordt (7-10) to Seward for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.

UPDATE: Doubleheader with Dordt washed out

Due to expected inclement weather, the Concordia University baseball program postponed GPAC home doubleheaders that had been scheduled for Friday and Saturday (March 24-25). The Bulldogs are now scheduled to host Northwestern at 2 p.m. CT on Monday (March 27). The doubleheader with Dordt will be played at a date that is yet to be determined.

Moving forward, home doubleheaders will be streamed live via theConcordia Sports Network.

GPAC season opens with pair of home defeats

SEWARD, Neb. – Due to postponements, the Concordia University baseball team had to wait three days longer than expected to begin GPAC regular-season play. In Monday’s makeup doubleheader at Plum Creek Park, the Bulldogs fell in both ends, slipping by scores of 4-1 and 12-5 at the hands of visiting Northwestern.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has dropped four in a row and now sits at 11-11 overall and 0-2 in the conference. Prior to Monday, Concordia had most recently played at Friends University (Kan.) on March 21.

“It was the first conference game and I thought we were a little tight to start out,” Dupic said. “We got into some situations where we maybe tried to do too much. In the second game, we just didn’t have a good start. We fell way behind right away. They came out and swung it really well. They outplayed us today and they deserve those two wins. We have to get back up be ready to go tomorrow.”

In game 1, the Bulldogs got a solid pitching performance from Josh Prater (six innings, two earned runs), who took a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning. Concordia struck first when Kaleb Geiger doubled home Christian Montero in the bottom of the first. However, Red Raider hurler Raphael DeHoyos settled in from there while striking out seven batters during his six innings on the mound.

Northwestern (12-11, 3-1 GPAC) took the lead courtesy of a pair of unearned runs in the fourth, which got started with Matt Martin reaching on an error on a hard hit ball to second. An inning later, AJ Nitschke homered down the right field line to add insurance.

Game 2 got away from the Bulldogs when the Red Raiders tallied a combined nine runs over the third and fourth frames. Concordia starter Nick Little was tagged for seven earned runs in 2.2 innings. Both Martin and Austin Zylstra went deep in game 2 for the victors.

The top four of the Bulldog lineup did the majority of the damage on Monday. The quartet combined to go 10-for-27 with six runs and five RBIs. Geiger produced a 3-for-8 day that included a pair of RBI doubles. Out of the No. 4 spot, Jason Galeano went 3-for-7 with two runs driven in. Casey Berg reached base three of four plate appearances in the capper and scored three times.

The Bulldogs will turn around quickly and play at Midland (18-6, 0-0 GPAC) at 5 p.m. CT on Tuesday in another GPAC doubleheader. The Warriors, conference regular-season champions in 2016, were picked second in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll. Midland is currently receiving votes in the national poll.

“I’m very thankful to be able to play again tomorrow,” Dupic said. “We just want to get back out there and get the bad taste out of our mouths. We have to get a little bit away from the way we’ve been playing and focus more on our execution and the way we can compete.”

Council fans 10 in shutout of defending GPAC champs

FREMONT, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball team is on the board with its first conference victory of the 2017 campaign. Up against the 2016 GPAC regular-season champion on Tuesday night, the Bulldogs salvaged a split by taking game 2 of a twin bill in Fremont, Neb. After Midland won the first game, 4-1, Concordia bounced back with a 12-0 victory in the night cap behind freshman lefty hurler Wade Council.

The game 2 win halted a five-game skid for third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad, which remains .500 overall at 12-12. The Bulldogs moved to 1-3 in league play.

“Today was a better day of baseball for us,” Dupic said. “We had our chances in the first game but were unable to execute with runners in scoring position. We were able to get a couple of big innings in the second game to give us a lead. I was pleased with both of our starting pitchers today. Midland is a very good offensive team, and we had two freshmen that threw the ball very well. Jason Munsch was solid in game 1, and Wade Council was terrific in game 2.”

Council was masterful. Having last pitched on March 18 when he shut out the University of Jamestown (N.D.), Council brought his best stuff to the table on Tuesday. He blanked the Warriors on four hits while striking out 10 batters. The native of Colorado Springs, Colo., really got rolling in the late innings when he retired eight-consecutive hitters.

Incredibly, Council has yet to surrender an earned run over his first 20 innings as a collegiate pitcher, meaning his ERA stands still at a spotless 0.00.

“Wade is such a versatile player for us,” Dupic said. “He can play outfield, hit, close games on the mound and start on the mound. He had three pitches working today at all times and got his fastball to both sides of the plate. Our guys feel best when his pitching for us and it showed today.”

Facing a possible 0-4 start to conference play, the Bulldogs had no reason to tense up after putting up six runs in the second inning of game 2. All of those runs came with two outs. Casey Berg ignited the rout with a two-run double. Christian Meza followed with an RBI double of his own and, two batters later, Kaleb Geiger rocked a three-run two-bagger.

Concordia tacked on with a run in the fourth and then five more in the sixth. The catalysts on Tuesday were the top-of-the-order hitters, Berg and Meza. Berg put together a 4-for-8 day (3-for-4, three runs, two RBIs in game 2) while Meza did the same. Meza knocked in three runs in the doubleheader.

Concordia struggled to break through with a clutch hit in game 1 while up against Midland’s Torrey Escamilla, who fanned nine hitters over six innings of work. The Bulldogs got their lone run when Meza singled home Berg in the third. Concordia then stranded two runners apiece in the fourth and fifth innings and left nine on base for the game.

Munsch got tagged with the loss in game 1 despite striking out eight hitters in five innings. He surrendered four runs (all earned) on six hits and two walks. Brook Stuart and Tanner Wauhob combined to work a scoreless sixth.

The Warriors (20-8, 2-2 GPAC) got a 2-for-3 performance, including a home run, from designated hitter Chris Foster in their victory. Midland ended up with only 10 hits total on the evening.

If the weather holds up, the Bulldogs will be back on the road this weekend for two more GPAC doubleheaders. They are slated to travel to Yankton, S.D., on Saturday for a 1 p.m. CT twin bill at Mount Marty (9-13, 3-1 GPAC). Then on Sunday, a doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Morningside (19-11, 4-2 GPAC).

Baseball to play at Mount Marty on Friday

Due to expected inclement weather on Saturday, the Concordia University baseball team and Mount Marty have agreed to move their doubleheader up one day. The two sides are now scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. CT on Friday (March 31). The Bulldogs are also slated to play at Morningside at 1 p.m. on Sunday (April 2).

Casey at the bat: the pulse of Bulldog baseball

Circumstances beyond anyone’s control have tested the 2017 Concordia baseball team in ways that no one could have ever imagined. Admits senior third baseman Casey Berg, “It’s been kind of emotional for everybody.”

Because of leaders like Berg, the Bulldogs remain a unified and stable bunch. Representative of an increasingly positive culture and upwardly trending program, Berg is taking off while leading off for third-year head coach Ryan Dupic.

Older brother Bryce, Dupic’s top assistant, knows Casey better than anyone inside the program. Says Bryce, “I think the potential has always been in him. I’ve watched him play for a long time. I even had the opportunity to play with him in high school. He just has the attitude that he wants to be great.”

The results so far have been pretty close to great for the transfer from North Iowa Area Community College. He’s setting the table with a robust .455 on-base percentage. He’s also batting .353 and slugging .541 with four home runs, proving his Concordia home run derby title in the fall was no fluke. His simplified explanation for the breakout season: “I just put in a lot of work offensively this offseason.”

In a rare feat, Casey pulverized two home runs in the same inning back on March 9 during the team’s stay at the Tucson Invitational. He has collected nine multiple hit games already and had a stretch this season when he reached base in 14-consecutive games.

Some of that success likely has to do with the comfort zone Casey has found at Concordia, a place that has provided a lot more structure than he had as a student at a junior college. He’s discovered inspiration at an institution that wasn’t on his radar until Dupic took the helm.

“He called me and talked to me pretty much every day for two weeks,” Casey said of Dupic. “I looked at the program and saw they were pretty bad. I was like, ‘No shot I’m coming here. 16-32. I don’t want to be a part of that.’ But he just convinced me. He’s a great guy and a great coach. I trusted him. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

The Bulldogs have been blessed with not just one, but two Bergs, the oldest pair of four Berg brothers. It wasn’t as if Bryce and Casey were so inseparable that they were determined to end up at the same place. Casey got here first, arriving in the fall of 2014 as a sophomore. Just a year-and-a-half older than Casey, Bryce graduated from Augustana College (S.D.), where he was an all-conference player. He knew he wanted to coach baseball. He just needed the right opportunity.

“I really wanted to coach in college after I had the opportunity to play college baseball,” Bryce said. “Concordia just seemed like the perfect fit. I called Coach Dupic probably about two days after I saw he had gotten the job here. He had recruited me when he was at Buena Vista. A couple weeks down the road I found out that my brother was going there. There were all these connections that built up. It made it way easier to want to accept the job.”

Since Bryce works closely with Bulldog hitters, a unique brotherly situation has had to work itself out. The two have always been competitive with each other. Bryce won Concordia’s home run derby in 2015. Then Casey did the same the following year.

The thing that makes life easier is that both Bergs are good at what they do. Bryce is a budding young coach. Casey is peaking and realizing his potential as a senior.

“I never could have imagined Bryce would be my coach one day, especially with him being a year-and-a-half older than me,” Casey said. “It’s worked out. I enjoy it a lot. He’s a great coach. It’s a little different for me and him because we’re brothers and we’ve always kind of been super competitive with each other. We give each other grief here and there. It’s nothing that I can’t handle.”

Bryce’s advice won’t fall on deaf ears when it comes to Casey. Says Bryce, “He’s not always afraid to voice his opinion back, but we get to where we need to be.” Their positive relationship is more important to the team than one might realize on the surface. Casey is one of the team’s more outgoing personalities. His teammates are fueled by the energy he exudes.

“Casey is our catalyst in multiple ways,” Dupic said. “We are going best when he is getting on base, making things happen on the bases and scoring runs. However, it’s much more than that for Casey. Even when he isn’t getting on base, when he is putting together competitive at bats, staying on an even keel and bringing positive energy to our team, our players feed off that and we perform at a much higher level. Casey’s personality and attitude are infectious, and what he does rubs off on others.”

People in northwest Iowa have known for quite some time about Casey, a three-time all-state performer at IKM-Manning High School. Dupic, then an assistant coach at Buena Vista University, was well aware of him. One of the first players to commit to Dupic at Concordia was Casey. In a way, they gambled on each other and on Concordia. There’s no looking back and there are no regrets.

Casey has felt this coming. ‘This’ is the rise of a baseball program built upon trust in Dupic, who has received heartfelt team support during a trying time in his life that has tested him with a personal health issue – through no fault of his own.

Thankfully, Dupic has the luxury of leaning upon players like Casey, a cornerstone recruit who has helped change the face and the attitude of a program.

Says Casey, “It’s been a really fun ride. It’s been really cool to see how the culture has changed so much since I’ve gotten here. The culture change from my sophomore year to now is incredible and it’s just going to keep growing. What Coach Dupic’s doing is fantastic and it’s just going to get way better. Our record doesn’t show it right now, but we’re going to finish real strong. It’s going to be a great year and the years to come are going to be even better.”

Berg remains hot, Bulldogs sweep Lancers

YANKTON, S.D. – Casey Berg knocked the ball around the yard while serving as the ringleader for an explosive Bulldog offensive attack on Friday evening. The Concordia University baseball team totaled 27 hits while sweeping a doubleheader from host Mount Marty, 7-4 and 11-5, in Yankton, S.D.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad now stands at 14-12 overall and has evened its conference mark at 3-3.

“Up and down the lineup it was a very good day,” Dupic said. “I thought this was the most complete we’ve played as a team. There are ups and downs during the conference season and you have to stay on an even keel. I thought our guys did a really nice job of that. They came out ready to play today.”

Berg is scorching like a July Nebraska summer day. On Friday, he went a combined 6-for-10 with a pair of home runs, allowing him to take over the team long ball lead (six on the season). The native of Manning, Iowa, doubled in his first at bat of the day. An inning later, he belted a two-run homer to boost the Bulldog lead to 3-0. Berg also went deep in the second frame of game 2.

He wasn’t alone. Concordia hitters especially wore out Mount Marty pitching in the night cap when they sprayed around 17 hits. Berg (3-for-6), Kaleb Geiger (3-for-4) and Christian Meza (3-for-6) each had three hits. Meanwhile, Wade Council and Jason Galeano both went 2-for-5. Geiger homered and doubled as part of the onslaught. At no point on Friday did the Bulldogs find themselves facing a deficit.

All that offensive output made it a more comfortable day for Concordia hurlers. When Josh Prater (3.1 innings, four runs, two earned runs) ran into trouble, Dupic went to the bullpen and got excellent work from Nic Seaman, who stretched out for 3.1 scoreless innings while picking up the win. In game 2, Nick Little bounced back with a six-inning performance in which he surrendered only one earned run on eight hits. Jake Fosgett covered the final three frames, struck out six hitters and earned the save.

“They were huge for us,” Dupic said of Seaman and Fosgett. “Seaman came in and pitched as well as he has all year. He was fantastic. He had his fastball and his slider working. Nick Fosgett also had the best outing he’s had this year. He had good breaking stuff, good fastball. I’m just really proud of our bullpen and our starters. They threw on short rest and I thought they battled really well. It was a good all-around day.”

In game 1, three Bulldogs recorded multiple hits: Berg (3-for-4), Council (2-for-2) and Jake Adams (2-for-3). Concordia notched 10 hits in the opener and then 17 more hits in the capper. The Bulldogs are averaging 7.5 runs per game (second most in the GPAC).

Mount Marty (9-15, 3-3 GPAC) had entered the day with a 3-1 conference mark. The Lancers swept a twin bill with Briar Cliff and then split with Dakota Wesleyan. On Friday, Mount Marty just couldn’t figure out Concordia’s hitters. The Lancer starting pitchers gave up a combined 12 earned runs in 7.1 innings.

The Bulldogs will have Saturday off before hitting the road for another conference twin bill. Concordia will go up against Morningside (19-11, 4-2 GPAC), the 2016 GPAC tournament champion, in Sioux City, Iowa, at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday. Before welcoming Concordia, the Mustangs will host Midland on Saturday.

Bulldogs pick off league favorite

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Bulldogs keep swingin’ in it and the young guns keep flingin’ it. On Sunday, the Concordia University baseball team swept away GPAC preseason favorite Morningside, taking victories by scores of 1-0 and 13-8 at Lewis & Clark Park in Sioux City, Iowa. In doing so, the Bulldogs completed a perfect 4-0 weekend road trip within the conference.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad will ride a five-game win streak into next week’s action. Concordia now stands at 16-12 overall and at 5-3 in the GPAC.

“It’s great to be able to do this at Morningside,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “It’s definitely a new vibe in the dugout. We feel like we can put ourselves in a position to compete at the top of the conference. Picking up wins against Midland and Morningside is big. It’s a good sign moving forward.”

Game 1 starter Jason Munsch completely stymied a Morningside offense that entered the day averaging more than six runs per game. The only hit he allowed all day in a seven-inning complete game was a double that led off the fourth. The freshman lefty from Campbell, Calif., worked around five free passes and struck out six. The game’s only run came in the top of the first when Christian Montero’s fielder’s choice chased home Kaleb Geiger.

Musnch lowered his ERA to 3.30 with the first shutout of his collegiate career.

“The moment never got too big for him,” Berg said. “He pitched out of multiple jams. He was really effective early. He did a nice job of attacking hitters. He’s been really good. He continues to compete and make big pitches when he needs to.”

For the second-straight twin bill, the Bulldogs never trailed. They looked like they were going to cruise in game 2 when they struck for nine runs in the third inning, which included seven hits and three Mustang errors. RBI hits in the frame were produced by Jason Galeano (single), Geiger (double), Tyler Nelson (two-run single), Ryan Fesmire and Christian Meza (two-run single). However, Morningside chipped away during the contest’s middle innings.

Wade Council’s streak of consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to begin his career ended at 23. After three scoreless frames in game 2, Council ran into trouble in the fourth when Morningside plated four runs. Council (4-0) still managed to battle through 5.2 innings to pick up the win. He was coming off a shutout performance five days earlier at Midland.

Meza went 3-for-6 and drove in four runs in a starring role in game 2. Galeano went 5-for-10 with a run and an RBI on the day. Galeano and Meza were two of four Bulldogs with multiple hits in a 14-hit effort in the capper. The others were Nelson (2-for-3, two RBIs) and Logan Ryan (2-for-4, three runs). Concordia notched eight hits in game 1, but stranded 11 men on base.

As the only reliever used by Dupic on Sunday, freshman right-hander Desmond Pineda got the job done. He navigated 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out two. He picked up a save.

Concordia’s recent run of success has included a 12-0 victory at Midland and then doubleheader sweeps of Mount Marty and Morningside. During the win streak, the Bulldogs have averaged 8.8 runs per game and have recorded two shutouts.

The Mustangs (19-15, 4-6 GPAC) went 0-for-the-weekend having also been swept on Saturday in a home doubleheader with Midland. Morningside lost Sunday’s game 2 despite collecting 14 hits, three of which came from leadoff hitter Jacob Lamoreux.

Concordia will dip outside of the GPAC on Tuesday with a short trek to York College (20-16) for a single nine-inning game. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. CT. Concordia will return to GPAC play next weekend with a four-game series against Doane (15-14, 6-2 GPAC).

Five-game win streak carries into this week's action

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time since the 2005 season, the Concordia baseball program has put together a five-game win streak within conference play. Fresh off a 4-0 weekend the Bulldogs look ahead to this week’s slate, which includes a dip outside the league and then a four-game series Saturday and Sunday against Doane.

This week’s schedule
Tuesday, April 4 – at York College (20-16), 5:30 p.m. (1x9)
Saturday, April 8 – vs. Doane (15-14, 6-2), 1 p.m. (DH)
Sunday, April 9 – at Doane (15-14, 6-2), 1 p.m. (DH)

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad effectively bounced back from an 0-3 start to conference play. Over the active five-game win streak, Concordia has averaged 8.8 runs per game. The Bulldogs continue to rank as one of the most prolific offenses in the GPAC. Among conference teams, Concordia ranks first in runs per game (7.5), second in hits per game (9.5), second in batting average (.306), second in slugging percentage (.469) and second in stolen bases per game (1.4).

The catalyst behind Concordia’s offensive success continues to tear it up at the top of the lineup. Senior third baseman Casey Berg put together three-straight games with three hits last week. In the doubleheader sweep at Mount Marty, the Manning, Iowa, native went 6-for-10 with three runs, four RBIs and two home runs. In sum, Berg went 13-for-30 with 13 runs scored, two doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs and two steals over last week’s eight games. On the season, Berg is hitting .366 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. He sports an on-base percentage of .458 and is slugging .594. Berg ranks third in the conference in hits per game (1.37).

The Bulldogs have also gotten some quality work from several pitchers. Both of the team’s freshman left-handed starters tossed a shutout last week. In the second game at Midland, rookie Wade Council struck out 10 Warriors and allowed only four hits in a seven-inning complete game shutout. Five days later, Jason Munsch surrendered just one hit in another seven-inning blanking, this time at Morningside. Council and Munsch are a combined 7-1 and both have ERAs of 3.30 or lower.

Several Bulldog hitters sport batting averages above .300, including Christian Meza (.377), Berg (.366), Tyler Nelson (.348), Jake Adams (.325), Jason Galeano (.313) and Ryan Fesmire (.300). In addition, first baseman Kaleb Geiger has heated up and is batting .283 with five home runs and 28 RBIs. His slugging percentage of .556 ranks second on the team to Berg. Also a middle-of-the-order hitter, Christian Montero tops the Bulldogs with 14 doubles.

York has been a player on the national scene under the direction of head coach Brian Walth. The Panthers were champions of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference last season and were ranked 13th in the 2017 NAIA preseason coaches’ poll. Nick Carney is off to a torrid start at the plate. The York first baseman is batting .414 with 10 home runs, 39 RBI and a .798 slugging percentage.

Doane has been an early surprise after being picked sixth in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll. The Tigers are 6-2 in the GPAC despite averaging more than two errors per game (worst in the conference). They have picked up the slack with an offense that ranks No. 1 in the conference in hits per game (9.7) and second in runs per game (6.4). Shortstop Tommy Anderson leads Doane with a .392 batting average. He also owns a .482 on-base percentage and .581 slugging percentage.

The longest win streak during Dupic’s tenure was a 10-game run in March of 2015. Concordia also strung together six wins in a row at one point in 2016.

The Bulldogs are also scheduled to play three conference doubleheaders next week. In a makeup twin bill, Concordia is set to host Dordt at 3 p.m. CT on April 11.

Hot streak leads to GPAC honor for Berg

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – A force at the top of Concordia’s potent offensive attack, senior Casey Berg has raked in his first career GPAC weekly award. On Tuesday (April 4), the conference tabbed Berg with the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Player of the Week award. Berg is the first GPAC player of the week for the program since Kaleb Geiger earned the same honor in March of last season.

A native of Manning, Iowa, Berg is thriving in his senior season. During last week’s action (eight games), Berg batted .433 (13-for-30) with 13 runs scored, two doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs and two stolen bases. As part of that run, Berg recorded three-straight games with exactly three hits. His six home runs are already a career high. Berg has been the catalyst for an offense that ranks No. 1 in the GPAC in runs per game (7.5).

Over 117 career games as a Bulldog, Berg has batted .329 with 125 hits, seven home runs and 56 RBIs. As a senior, Berg has career highs in batting average (.366), on-base percentage (.458), slugging percentage (.594), home runs and RBIs (20). He’s on track to shatter other career bests for runs scored, hits and stolen bases.

Berg and the Bulldogs (16-12, 5-3 GPAC), now rated as the No. 1 team in the GPAC (according to official NAIA rankings), are scheduled to return to action tonight (Tuesday) at York College (21-17). First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. CT.

Panthers storm back, hand Concordia nonconference loss

YORK, Neb. – Host York College ended Tuesday night’s nonconference tilt with 11 unanswered runs while erasing an early four-run deficit. The Panthers dealt the Concordia University baseball team an 11-4 defeat in a nine-inning contest played at Levitt Stadium in York, Neb.

The loss snapped a five-game win streak for third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad. Now ranked No. 1 in the GPAC poll, the Bulldogs stand at 16-13 overall.

“We left a lot of guys on base and just didn’t throw enough strikes. We didn’t play well enough in any of the phases of the game to win,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “We built that lead early and were feeling pretty good. It was a windy day and it was tough to drive the baseball, but no excuse for not driving in some more runs. We didn’t get big hits when we needed them.”

Junior right-handed pitcher Neil Ryan cruised through the first four innings, facing just two hitters over the minimum while mowing down Panther batsmen. But the game started to unravel in the fifth when Ryan loaded the bases with three-consecutive walks. After an RBI double by Lamar Smith and a two-run single by Billy Johnson, York had tied the game.

The Panthers (22-17), 2016 champions of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, pounced by adding seven runs off the Concordia bullpen. All 11 York runs came over its final four innings at bat. Josh Roman helped punctuate the win for York by belting a two-run homer in the seventh.

“They’re a really good ball club,” Berg said. “They can score runs. When you give a team like that opportunities, they’re going to get to you.”

Once again, the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of a trail of baserunners. Though it managed only five hits, Concordia drew eight free passes, including four by designated hitter Wade Council. The Bulldogs did almost all of their damage in the third inning when Tyler Nelson forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk, Thomas Sautel drove in another with a sacrifice fly and one more came in with the aid of a Panther throwing error. It was a 4-0 Concordia lead after Christian Montero swatted a run-scoring single in the fourth.

Ryan ended up allowing four earned runs in 4.2 innings. Reliever Tanner Wauhob allowed four runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings and took the loss. On the other side, DB Vidal went 3-for-3. In addition, Johnson knocked in four runs for the victors.

The Bulldogs now brace a four-game weekend series with rival Doane (15-17, 6-5 GPAC). Concordia will host the Tigers on Saturday before venturing to Crete on Sunday (both doubleheaders set for 1 p.m. CT). The two sides entered the day as the first- and second-place teams in the league standings. However, the Tigers were swept by Hastings in a doubleheader on Tuesday evening.

Montero powers thumping of Doane

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball team feasted on Doane pitching, racking up 10 doubles and five home runs in a doubleheader pummeling of its GPAC rival from the south. Right fielder Christian Montero belted three home runs in fueling wins by scores of 6-0 and 14-4 (run rule) over the visiting Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

That 0-3 start to conference play is now a distant memory for third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad. The Bulldogs have won seven-straight conference games and have improved to 18-13 overall and to 7-3 in league play (first place).

“Offensively we were really good,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “We came out of the gate strong in both games. I saw our guys were ready to play right away. They were aggressive on balls in the strike zone and didn’t really expand the zone. And then we did a good job defensively preventing runs for the most part.”

It seemed like only a matter of time before Montero started landing more pitches over fences. He entered the day with one home run and a team high 14 doubles on the year. On Saturday, the native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, drilled a solo homer in the fifth inning of game 1 and then resurfaced in game 2 with a two-run shot in the first and another solo blast in the second. Montero’s final homer of the day immediately followed a three-run bomb by No. 3 hitter Jason Galeano.

It was freshman Wade Council who set the tone early on. He spit on an offering from Carter Cummins that was a no-doubter of a three-run homer in the second inning of game 1. Council, a freshman from Colorado Springs, Colo., enjoyed one of the finest days of his young career, going 5-for-7 with five RBIs on the day.

“We’re jelling as a team. Everything’s clicking,” Council said. “We’re trying to stay on the same line emotionally. If we just do that, good things will happen.”

Council and company made it a painful day for Doane pitchers, who surrendered 28 hits and seven walks. The Bulldogs got production up and down the lineup. Right at the top, Casey Berg had a 4-for-7 day with three doubles. Montero also went 4-for-7 and was one of five Bulldogs with multiple hits in game 2, which ended abruptly due to the 10-run rule.

Concordia also got solid pitching from lefty starters Jason Munsch and Josh Prater. Munsch has been the team’s most reliable and consistent starter. Though he walked seven hitters on Saturday, he did not give up a run over six innings and struck out nine Tigers, tying a career high. Prater went 6.1 innings before handing the ball to Casey Hall for the final two outs. Nic Seaman also worked a scoreless inning (game 1) out of a bullpen that has been taxed very infrequently of late.

“He’s been really good,” Berg said of Munsch. “He’s been our best pitcher so that’s why we threw him out there in game 1. He wasn’t quite as consistent today as we need him to be, but he was still putting up zeros. They struggled to get the barrel on him.”

Others not previously mentioned who turned in a multiple hit game on Saturday were Jake Adams, Logan Ryan and Tyler Nelson. Both of Ryan’s two hits in game 1 came on bunts.

Doane (15-18, 6-6 GPAC) has now dropped five games in a row (all in conference play). The Tigers did not score on Saturday until the fourth inning of game 2. They managed only seven hits the entire day.

The Bulldogs will complete their four-game series with Doane on Sunday when they make the short trek to Crete. The road doubleheader is set to get started at 1 p.m. CT.

Council fires shutout; Bulldogs complete four-game sweep

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball team is on a conference roll like never before. While finishing up a four-game sweep of rival Doane, the Bulldogs rode a shutout from freshman Wade Council and three more home runs to Sunday victories by scores of 3-0 and 7-6.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has now won nine-straight GPAC games. Concordia also dominated Doane Saturday, taking both ends of a twin bill that was played in Seward. The first-place Bulldogs are now 20-13 overall and 9-3 in league play.

“I was very pleased with the way we defended in game 1. We turned multiple double plays and made some other nice plays as well,” Dupic said. “Wade pitched terrific and was able to keep them off balance. They threw a very good pitcher, but we were able to scratch across a few runs.

“Game 2 was very back and forth. It was a well-played ballgame with some big offensive swings by both teams. We got some really good offensive work. Casey Berg had two big at bats late in the game, and we had three freshmen all throw the ball well.”

In effort to avoid the an empty weekend, the Tigers (15-20, 6-8 GPAC) rallied late in game 2. They tied it in the bottom of the seventh (5-5) on a Jake Smith two-run single and then again in the eighth (6-6) on a Nathan Sliva home run.

All weekend long, the Bulldogs proved too powerful. In the ninth, Berg led off with a single up the middle and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Jason Galeano base hit sent Berg to the plate for the game-deciding tally in Concordia’s fourth one-run win of the season. Galeano went 3-for-5 with three RBIs in game 2.

Much less offense was needed in game 1 with Council dealing on the hill. He fired his third shutout already this year by scattering five hits without surrendering a single run. He also struck out five Doane hitters. Council is 5-0 with a 2.20 ERA.

Christian Montero continued terrorizing Tiger pitching. He connected on fifth-inning solo homer in game 1. Montero homered four times on the weekend. As a team, the Bulldogs blasted eight home runs in the four-game sweep. Both Galeano and Ryan Fesmire homered in Sunday’s second game.

Berg enjoyed a 4-for-9 performance out of the leadoff spot on Sunday. A steady senior catcher, Fesmire went a perfect 4-for-4 with two RBIs in game 2. Doane pitcher Jake Trujillo did a solid job of limiting Concordia in the opener. He covered 5.1 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk.

The Tigers have now lost seven-straight games, all against GPAC opponents. They were outscored by the Bulldogs, 30-10, in the four-game series.

In a makeup doubleheader, the Bulldogs will host Dordt (11-18, 4-8 GPAC) at 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Concordia is 3-3 at home this season while the Defenders are 4-9 in true road games.

First-place Bulldogs split with Dordt

SEWARD, Neb. – Though the nine-game conference win streak fell by the wayside, the Concordia University baseball team managed to maintain its perch, alone in first place in the GPAC. After falling in an 8-7, 13-inning affair, the Bulldogs rebounded with an 11-3 win in game 2 of Tuesday’s home doubleheader with Dordt (12-19, 5-9 GPAC).

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad had not lost a conference game since March 28. Concordia’s records stand at 21-14 overall and 10-4 in the GPAC.

“Game 1 was obviously a little frustrating with the end result, but I’m proud of the way the guys came back in game 2 and really battled,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “I thought we started off a little bit slow offensively in the second game, but we really got it going as the game went on. We just put together a lot of really good at bats. We also got a really good relief appearance out of Tanner Wauhob.”

With conference twin bills coming up on Thursday and Saturday, Dupic turned to the pitching combo of Cade Moring and Wauhob and got solid results. Making his first start of the season, Moring went three innings and allowed one run on three hits and three walks. Wauhob entered the game with two runners on in the fourth and got the final 12 outs while picking up the win.

Concordia teed off late in game 1 with an eight-run sixth inning that made it a laugher. The Bulldogs batted around during an inning that included a Christian Meza two-run single and a Kaleb Geiger two-run double. Geiger mashed four doubles and had three RBIs on the day.

It was another day in which the Bulldogs got production up and down the lineup. At the top, Casey Berg continued to sizzle. He went 4-for-8 with a triple, a home run, three runs and four RBIs. Christian Meza recorded two hits in both ends of the doubleheader and Logan Ryan added a pair of hits in game 1. In the second game, Jake Adams went 2-for-3 with a double and a stolen base.

The game 2 response was another example of this team’s resolve and how the culture continues to evolve.

“It’s always tough after a game like that,” Casey Berg said. “It was a super long game and it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We had a couple things not go our way. We’ve been preaching all year to stay on an even keel no matter what happens and that’s what we did.”

In the marathon defeat, it appeared that the Bulldogs were primed to either tie and perhaps walk off a winner when Meza’s two-out drive to left chased outfielder Colton VanOtterloo all the way back to the wall. On the run, VanOtterloo made the catch to effectively end the winning streak. It was also VanOtterloo who delivered the game-winning solo homer in the top of the 13th.

Dupic needed a lot of work from the bullpen after Neil Ryan was pulled in the third inning due to wildness. The star on the mound for the Bulldogs was Desmond Pineda, who fired seven innings, allowed just the one run on the VanOtterloo homer and struck out eight Defender hitters. He was tagged with a tough-luck loss. Concordia was unable to cross home plate after the sixth inning of game 2, which it trailed 6-0 at one point.

The Bulldogs will take their act back on the road on Thursday when they visit Hastings (19-15, 8-6 GPAC) for a 5 p.m. CT doubleheader. The Broncos sit just two games behind Concordia in the race atop the league standings.

GPAC frontrunners look ahead to crucial four-game series vs. Hastings

SEWARD, Neb. – Every game from here on out will carry significant meaning for the Concordia University baseball team. Not since 1986 has the program captured a conference championship. Halfway through the GPAC schedule, the Bulldogs are alone in first place. However, several teams are breathing down their necks, including the Hastings opponent they will face on Thursday and Saturday.

Weekend schedule
Thursday, April 13 – at Hastings, 5 p.m. CT DH
Saturday, April 15 – vs. Hastings, 1 p.m. CT DH

Thursday’s games will be streamed live via the Hastings Stretch Internet portal. Then on Saturday, the Concordia Sports Network will provide coverage.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has won 10 of its last 11 conference games with the only loss during that stretch being an 8-7, 13-inning defeat at the hands of Dordt on Tuesday. Over the last 11 GPAC games, the Bulldogs (21-14, 10-4 GPAC) have outscored their opponents by a combined total of 92-35. Concordia has the conference’s most prolific run scoring team with an average of 7.5 runs per game.

Senior third baseman Casey Berg just keeps on raking. He went 4-for-8 with a triple, a home run and four RBI in Tuesday’s twin bill. He tops the team in most major offensive categories, including batting average (.385), runs (41), hits (50), home runs (7), total bases (83), on-base percentage (.474) and slugging percentage (.638). In the middle of the lineup, right fielder Christian Montero has been surging in the power department. He hammered four home runs in last week’s four-game sweep of Doane.

The pitching staff has gotten a huge boost from freshmen. Rookie left-hander Jason Munsch has been close to unhittable, limiting opposing batters to a .150 average. In his past two outings, Munsch has fired 13 shutout innings, during which he’s allowed only three hits and 15 strikeouts. Fellow freshman Wade Council also turned in a shutout in his most recent outing. He tossed a seven-inning complete game in a five-hitter at Doane.

Hastings (19-15, 8-6 GPAC) currently sits in fourth place in the league standings, two games behind the Bulldogs. The Broncos are coming off a four-game split in their weekend series with Mount Marty. Hastings is the league’s top defensive team in terms of fielding percentage. The Broncos are not a particularly powerful team (.414 slugging), but players like Reed Stone (.358 BA) and Brandon Utrup (.351) are rock steady.

Saturday’s home doubleheader will be the start of eight-straight GPAC home games. Concordia is also slated to host Midland (April 18) and Briar Cliff (April 22-23) next week as part of the stretch run of the regular season.

Prater tosses gem in split at Hastings

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.

UPDATE: Saturday (April 15) doubleheader postponed

Updated: 2:15 p.m. CT (April 15)

Due to rainy conditions on Friday (April 14), Saturday's (April 15) scheduled baseball doubleheader versus Hastings has been postponed. A makeup date has not yet been announced. The Bulldogs are currently 22-15 overall and 11-5 in conference play (tied for first).

Top GPAC teams set to clash in Seward

SEWARD, Neb. – Based on the GPAC standings entering the week, Tuesday’s clash at Plum Creek Park will feature the league’s top two teams: Concordia and Midland. The two squads are tied in the loss column at the top of the heap. The Bulldogs are also scheduled to host Briar Cliff this weekend as part of a four-game set while continuing pursuit of the program’s first conference championship since 1986. Concordia will celebrate senior day on Saturday.

This week’s schedule
Tuesday, April 18 – vs. Midland (31-12, 13-5 GPAC), 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 22 – vs. Briar Cliff (14-25, 7-10 GPAC), 1 p.m. (Senior Day)
Sunday, April 23 – vs. Briar Cliff (14-25, 7-10 GPAC), 1 p.m.

During last week’s action, third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad had its nine-game GPAC win streak interrupted in an 8-7, 13-inning defeat at the hands of Dordt. The Bulldogs split doubleheaders with both Dordt and Hastings. The highlight of the split at Hastings was the pitching performance by senior lefty Josh Prater, who went 6.1 innings and struck out 10 Broncos in a 7-0 shutout victory. In game 2, Concordia was blanked for the first time in nearly a year.

Shutting out the Bulldogs is exceptionally difficult to do. Concordia continues to lead the GPAC in runs scored per game (7.3) behind star third baseman Casey Berg. The native of Manning, Iowa, rates as one of the conference’s top players, ranking first in hits per game (1.42), second in runs scored (42), third in total bases (85), fourth in slugging percentage (.625), fourth in home runs (seven), fifth in batting average (.375), sixth in on-base percentage (.465), sixth in stolen bases (10) and ninth in doubles (11).

An unsung hero has been senior catcher Ryan Fesmire. He’s a key piece in regards to the success of a pitching staff that owns a 4.73 ERA (fourth in the GPAC). Fesmire has also improved considerably at the plate. He’s hitting a career best .310 with five doubles and a pair of home runs in 2017. In recent action, Fesmire went 4-for-4 with a home run and two doubles in a 7-6 win at Doane. He also enjoyed a 3-for-3 outing with a double and two RBIs in the victory at Hastings.

Concordia’s usual four-man pitching rotation has included freshmen Wade Council (5-0, 2.20 ERA), Nick Little (3-3, 5.36 ERA) and Jason Munch (4-1, 2.75 ERA) and the veteran Prater (4-2, 2.68 ERA). In his most recent outing, Council tossed his third shutout of the season while striking out five in a seven-inning complete game win at Doane. Over his last two starts, Munsch has fired 13 shutout innings with just three hits allowed. Opposing batters are hitting only .150 against Munsch.

Midland will ride a five-game win streak into town. The Warriors are coming off of a four-game sweep of Northwestern that included three victories by a single run. Champion of the 2016 GPAC regular season, Midland is fueled by outfielder Cole Gray, who is batting .418 and slugging .730. Briar Cliff, 2015 GPAC champion, has struggled on the mound this season. The Chargers sport a 7.89 team ERA (last in the conference).

Twelve conference games are all that remain on the regular-season schedule for Concordia. The regular season will end April 28-29 with a four-game series at Dakota Wesleyan.

Game 2 Munsch better

SEWARD, Neb. – In a showdown between the top two teams in the GPAC standings, the Concordia University baseball team held its ground with a doubleheader split with visiting Midland at Plum Creek Park on Tuesday evening. The Bulldogs rode the left hand of Jason Munsch while rebounding from a 6-1 game 1 loss. Concordia took game 2 decisively, 10-0.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad remains squarely in the picture in the race for a GPAC championship. The Bulldogs (23-16, 12-6 GPAC) are tied with the first-place Warriors (32-13, 14-6 GPAC) in the loss column.

“It was a day of mistakes,” Dupic said. “We made them the first game and they made them the second. I thought we had some good takes in the first game on a couple borderline pitches. That led to some walks and obviously Jason did a really nice job, too. It was a very nice bounce back win for us, no doubt about it.”

Munsch is on a tear. He’s now thrown 19 innings without allowing a single run over his last three starts on the mound. On Tuesday, he used a heavy diet of fastballs to carve up a potent Midland lineup that managed a meager three hits in six innings. Munsch, who came into action limiting opponents to a .150 batting average, struck out nine in yet another gem tossed by the rookie from Campbell, Calif.

“It felt great. I actually pitched against Midland the last time we were there and I had a little bit of a rough start,” Munsch said. “So it was good to be able to come back out and give it my all and really show what I can do.”

All Concordia really had to do in game 2 was watch Munsch go to work and then take advantage of a multitude of Warrior miscues. Midland hurler Dillon Cotner walked four-consecutive hitters in a top of the first inning that featured just one Bulldog hit. Two more free passes and a hit batter helped Concordia push across two more in the second. A gift came in the fourth when an error directly led to a sixth Bulldog run.

Concordia couldn’t quite solve Midland righty Torrey Escamilla, who bumped his season record to 9-0. Escamilla fired a seven-inning complete game. He gave up one run on six hits and a walk while striking out five.

It was another solid night at the top of the lineup for Casey Berg, who reached base in five of eight plate appearances. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored in game 2. Kaleb Geiger got a confidence boost in the latter part of a game 2, coming through with a three-run double to right.

Midland enjoyed better success this time around against freshman Wade Council, who fired a shutout in his first career appearance against the Warriors. Council was lifted after four innings in game 1. He allowed five runs (three earned) on nine hits and two walks. Midland’s Chris Foster went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in a winning effort.

A string of eight-straight home games continues this weekend for the Bulldogs. As part of a four-game series, Concordia will host doubleheaders with Briar Cliff (14-28, 7-13 GPAC) at 1 p.m. CT on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday will be senior day at Plum Creek Park. The 2017 roster includes 15 seniors. Five of which are regulars in the lineup while Josh Prater is the headliner among pitchers.

A lot will be at stake for the Bulldogs.

“We’re about as healthy as we can be this time of year,” Dupic said. “We’ve tried to work hard to make sure our guys stay healthy. We’ve kept our starters as starters and our relievers as relievers. We’ve thrown relievers twice in the same day extremely rarely and thrown them back-to-back days very rarely all year so when we get to this point in the season we’re prepared to have success.”

Briar Cliff hurlers muzzle Bulldog bats

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball team struggled to string anything together offensively as its home stand continued on senior day Saturday. Visiting Briar Cliff spoiled the fun by taking contests by scores of 3-1 and 3-2 in the Plum Creek Park matinee. The Bulldogs were limited to a combined 11 hits while up against Charger starting pitchers Zayne Mowen and Matt Wesselmann.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad remains in the thick of the conference title race despite being swept on Saturday. Concordia now stands at 23-18 overall and at 12-8 in GPAC play (one loss behind Midland, which is 15-7 in the conference).

“I think right now we’re letting certain things affect us too much and we’re not responding very well,” Dupic said. “Baseball can be a very humbling game sometimes.

“He’s been very consistent,” Dupic said of senior pitcher Josh Prater. “He’s just really steady and did a nice job again today. Then with Cade (Moring), he was pitching so well we left him in. We certainly did pitch pretty well today, which is promising because we need to as we move forward.”

The Bulldogs pitched well enough to take both ends of the twin bill. In game one, Prater did not allow a single earned run in a seven-inning complete game performance. He allowed five hits and two walks while striking out four. In game 2, Moring went 5.1 innings, allowing only a single run on one hit and two walks. He punched out seven Charger hitters before giving way to the bullpen.

The Concordia offense just never got clicking. All the Bulldogs could muster in the first game was a seventh-inning RBI single by Tyler Nelson. In the capper, Ryan Fesmire knocked in a run with a ground out and Thomas Sautel sent a run to the plate in the ninth on a pinch hit double. The drama-filled ninth ended with Jason Galeano flying out to right with two outs and the bases loaded.

A group of 15 seniors was honored between games on Saturday. The large class includes productive leadoff hitter Casey Berg and middle-of-the-order sluggers like Galeano and Christian Montero.

The Bulldogs have dropped four of their last five games. They’re looking to return to the form that saw them win nine-consecutive GPAC contests not long ago. Concordia will again host Briar Cliff (16-28, 9-13 GPAC) on Sunday. First pitch is locked in for 1 p.m. CT.

Bulldogs rebound, stay in title hunt

SEWARD, Neb. – The race for the GPAC baseball regular-season championship remains cloudy. The Bulldogs have kept themselves in the discussion and, on Sunday, bounced back with a doubleheader sweep to close out a four-game weekend series with Briar Cliff. Concordia held off the Chargers, winning by scores of 3-2 and 5-3 in Seward.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad moved to 25-18 overall and to 14-8 in conference play (second place). Four teams are within two games of each other at the head of the pack.

The Bulldogs especially needed Sunday’s positive results after falling twice to Briar Cliff the previous day. After the proceedings on Saturday, Concordia held a lengthy team gathering in left field.

“We obviously had a rough day yesterday,” said sophomore second baseman Christian Meza. “We all got together and wanted to talk it out. We pretty much told each other that we have to love each other and stick through the hard times. That’s pretty much it.”

Meza drove in three of the team’s eight runs on the day while holding down the No. 3 spot in the lineup for the first time this season. His most critical at bat came in the bottom of the seventh of Sunday’s game 1. Meza lifted a shallow drive to right that gave Logan Ryan a chance to tag up from third base. The throw from Ray Rude beat Ryan to the plate by a wide margin, but catcher Brady Harpenau had the ball jarred loose, allowing for a walk-off Concordia victory.

It was a solid weekend for Bulldog hurlers, who held the Chargers (16-30, 9-15 GPAC) to a total of 11 runs over the four-game set. Starters Wade Council and Nick Little went a combined 10.1 innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits and five walks. Little picked up the win in game 2. Working in relief, Desmond Pineda earned the victory in game 1 and then a save in the capper.

At the plate, Meza and company did just enough. Christian Montero went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI in game 1. In the second contest, the Bulldogs found a way to manufacture a pair of sixth inning runs on just a single bunt hit. There were also walks drawn by Wade Council, Jake Adams and Johnny May that went along with Tyler Nelson’s perfectly placed bunt. On a day when the wind was blowing out to center, only Jason Galeano (3-for-7 on the day) took advantage. He pounded his sixth homer of the season while leading off the bottom of the second in game 2.

Montero is now the school record holder for most doubles in a single season with 18. Teammate Kaleb Geiger is not far behind with 16. The previous record of 17 had been held by Zak Goodrich (2010).

Briar Cliff managed 13 hits for the doubleheader. Out of the leadoff spot, Ryan Welsh went 3-for-8 with a pair of runs scored. Currently in a tie for eighth place, the Chargers are in danger of missing the eight-team GPAC tournament (May 4-6, 9).

The Bulldogs will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Hastings (24-18, 13-9 GPAC) in a makeup doubleheader. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. CT from Plum Creek Park. The two sides split a twin bill in Hastings on April 13.

The final home doubleheader of 2017 carries significant meaning for two teams in the conference title hunt.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Meza said. “A lot of fans are starting to come out and support us. Keep on coming. We need the support. We’re taking it one game at a time. We’ll see what happens at the end.”

Final week of regular season carries significant implications

SEWARD, Neb. – The final week of the regular season has arrived for a Concordia University baseball team that has lived at or near the top of the GPAC standings in 2017. Despite splitting last week’s six home games, the Bulldogs remain in control of their own destiny for at least a share of the conference regular-season title. Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is one game back of first-place Midland (16-8 GPAC), but tied in the loss column.

This week’s schedule
Tuesday, April 25 – vs. Hastings (24-18, 13-9 GPAC), 5 p.m.
Friday, April 28 – at Dakota Wesleyan (16-24, 11-11 GPAC), 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 29 – at Dakota Wesleyan (16-24, 11-11 GPAC), 1 p.m.

In the midst of the winningest three-year period in school history, Concordia (25-18, 14-8 GPAC) needs four more victories for an overall school single-season record and two more wins to break a program standard for conference triumphs in a campaign. The Bulldogs remain in the hunt for their first conference championship since 1986.

While Concordia ranks second in the GPAC in runs per game (6.8), it’s the pitching staff that has been most impressive lately. Over the past five games, the Bulldogs have allowed a total of 11 runs. Three starting hurlers possess ERAs south of 3.00: Josh Prater (4-3, 2.33 ERA), Jason Munsch (5-1, 2.36 ERA) and Wade Council (5-1, 2.59 ERA). Munsch has not allowed a run in 20 innings over his last three starts. The reliable senior lefty Prater has surrendered more than three earned runs only once in nine starts this season.

Offensively, the Bulldogs are hoping to catch fire late in the season. Briar Cliff kept Concordia in check for much of last week’s series. One of the highlights was Christian Montero’s 3-for-3, two-double performance that allowed him to surpass the school’s single-season record for doubles (18). The team’s most consistent hitter, Casey Berg, is knocking on the door of the program runs scored record (two short with 46 runs in 2017). Berg is hitting .364 with an impressive .470 on-base percentage.

Hastings has gone almost exclusively with a four-man pitching rotation this season. All four guys were used over the weekend, including Will Frei, who has been on a recent tear. The Broncos are coming off a four-game split with Midland. The Bulldogs and Broncos split a twin bill in Hastings on April 13.

Concordia has yet to see Dakota Wesleyan this season. The Tigers stopped a six-game losing streak on Sunday, taking the final game of a four-game set at Morningside. Dakota Wesleyan has had its struggles both offensively (.267 batting average) and on the mound (7.18 ERA). Its leading hitter is Tramane Moore (.343 average, .438 on base).

Seeding for the GPAC tournament will be finalized at the conclusion of the regular season. The regular-season champion earns an automatic bid to the national tournament. The top two seeds will host four-team pods of the conference postseason.

Nelson's two-run double lifts Bulldogs in pivotal GPAC battle

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.

Wauhob helps propel Bulldogs into first-place tie

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s on now. Perhaps it seemed like part dream or fairytale at one time, but it’s gotten serious. With four games left in the regular season, the Concordia University baseball team has pulled even with Midland atop the GPAC standings. The Bulldogs closed the gap on Wednesday while getting a money performance from sophomore pitcher Tanner Wauhob in a 3-0 win over visiting Hastings.

Taking two from the Broncos over the past two days was a big deal. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s victory, the team huddled in the dugout around head coach Ryan Dupic, who continues to deal with his share of difficult circumstances. “Let’s get on the bus and get ready to roll,” Dupic told them, in reference to this weekend’s road trip. The team went nuts.

These are different times for the program. Concordia is now 27-18 overall and stands at 16-8 in the GPAC. The 16 conference wins are a single-season school record.

“Because of the health issues I’ve been fighting, I don’t always get to see our guys all at the same time as much as I would like,” Dupic said. “Those moments after games are fun to be part of. The joy the players experience together is one of the great parts of my job.”

Both teams were short on their typical starting pitchers due to the wealth of games played in recent days. Dupic turned to Wauhob, a native of Sioux City, Iowa. He was ready. He blanked Hastings over 5.2 innings, allowing two measly hits. Anytime he didn’t strike the Broncos out (seven K’s), he had them beating the ball into the ground (six groundball outs compared to two fly outs).

Wauhob outdueled freshman pitcher Grant Svec, who was pretty good in his own right. But Svec had no margin for error with Wauhob slinging it on the other side.

“Coach just wanted me to attack right off the bat kind of like coming out of the ‘pen,” Wauhob said. “It just happened to be one of my nights where I was on a little bit. I had a great defense backing me up.”

The Bulldogs failed to manage a hit against Svec through the first three innings. Then in the fourth, Svec retired the first two hitters before Concordia found two-out magic. Consecutive singles followed from Christian Meza, Jason Galeano, Wade Council (RBI), Jake Adams (RBI) and Tyler Nelson (RBI) in a contagious splurge.

Hastings (24-20, 13-11 GPAC) finally made its big push in the sixth. It loaded the bases with two outs against Wauhob. Dupic then made the call to Neil Ryan, who struck out Zack Peterson to end the threat. Desmond Pineda came on to throw the final inning, finishing off a combined two-hit shutout.

This was exactly the way Concordia wanted to polish off its schedule at Plum Creek Park, where it hopes to return to for GPAC postseason play. The culmination of the night was a special moment in the third base dugout.

“We’re real excited,” Wauhob said. “Especially with our coach going through what he’s going through. He had a great attitude. He’s ready to get on the road. We’ve got four more games. We’ve got to keep going.”

All four of those games are slated to be played in Mitchell, S.D., this weekend. The Bulldogs will play a doubleheader at Dakota Wesleyan (16-26, 11-13 GPAC) at 5 p.m. CT on Friday. They will turn around and play the Tigers again in Mitchell at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Fellow GPAC co-leader Midland (34-16, 16-8 GPAC) has a four-gamer with Doane. Also in the hunt for the title, Morningside (30-19, 15-9 GPAC) will play four at Northwestern.

Prater, Little go the distance for GPAC frontrunners

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.

'We've done it': Concordia captures first conference title in 31 years

MITCHELL, S.D. – For the first time in his four seasons as a Bulldog, senior catcher Ryan Fesmire truly believed that winning a conference championship was an attainable goal. Fesmire even went as far to say that it would be a disappointment if the Concordia University baseball team did not end the conference title drought that dated back to 1986. On Saturday afternoon, Fesmire and his teammates completed the regular season by locking up at least a share of the GPAC crown.

In just three short years, head coach Ryan Dupic has built a championship program. In Saturday’s action, the Bulldogs split a doubleheader at Dakota Wesleyan, winning game 1, 6-0, before dropping the second game, 6-5. Concordia ends the regular season at 30-19 overall and at 19-9 in conference play.

Said Dupic, “Our guys have showed great persistence … I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”

Added Fesmire, “It’s huge, especially going from where we were freshman year. If you would have told me that sophomore year, I would have been like, ‘I don’t know if I believe it.’ But we’ve done it.”

While Concordia has fielded some of the best offensive teams in school history during Dupic’s tenure, the growth of the starting pitching rotation has had been a big factor in the overall growth of the program. The Tigers were baffled most of the weekend by Bulldog hurlers, who fired three complete games in the four-game set. Wade Council was the latest to dominate. He went all seven innings of Saturday’s game 1, allowing only three hits and two walks while recording his fourth shutout of the season.

Council got all the runs he needed in the third inning when Tyler Nelson drew a bases loaded walk and Fesmire and Johnny May both added an RBI single apiece. May came up big again in the fifth, delivering a two-out, two-run base hit. May and Jason Galeano both contributed two hits in the opener.

Game 2 was much more of a dogfight. The Bulldogs got down 4-0 and came all the way back to take a 5-4 lead in the seventh. The five-run frame was jump started by a RBI double from Nelson. Three batters later, the visiting dugout exploded. Casey Berg’s liner to center got under the glove of a diving Tiger outfielder, clearing the bases in what resulted in a game-tying three-run double. Christian Montero followed by cracking an RBI single to right and a one-run lead.

Some defensive miscues by Concordia helped Dakota Wesleyan take the lead back in the bottom of the eighth. Reed Harter supplied the deciding blow when he sent a catchable drive to left center that fell in for a two-run single. Desmond Pineda ended up taking the loss though he pitched a solid 3.1 innings in relief.

The defeat in game 2 won’t spoil what a special year it’s been. The Bulldogs battled back from an 0-3 start to conference play and put together separate GPAC win streaks of nine and seven games. Concordia has also reached the 30-win mark for the first time in school history.

“It means a lot for everybody,” Berg said. “It’s been a tough time for Coach Dupic and his family. It’s really great that we can do this for him and make it a little less stressful on him. We’re finally GPAC champs.”

Afterwards, Dupic had many players to name for a job well done.

“Wade threw the ball very well,” Dupic said. “He changed speeds and we were solid defensively. I was pleased with our at bats, especially Montero and Nelson. We came ready to play and executed well. The second game was back and forth. We didn’t quite execute as well as we had before, but I was pleased with the way we fought our way back into it.”

The Bulldogs have earned the right to host in the conference tournament that will begin next week. Concordia and three other teams will be part of a four-team pod that will play at Plum Creek Park. Complete pairings will be released early next week when all GPAC games have been completed. Midland can still share the GPAC title with the Bulldogs if it can sweep Monday’s doubleheader with Doane.

Bulldogs buzzing about GPAC title; set to host

SEWARD, Neb. – Staff and members of the Concordia University baseball team found themselves rooting for Doane on Monday night. By winning the second game of a doubleheader at Midland, the Tigers ensured that the Bulldogs would not have to share the conference crown. The Concordia University baseball team is the outright GPAC champion. It’s the first conference title for the program since 1986.

It’s been an emotional ride for third-year head coach Ryan Dupic, who has lifted up a program that has broken the school record for wins three seasons in a row. Dupic took to Twitter on Monday night to thank those who played a role in the team’s rapid rise.

“There are so many thoughts after winning the outright GPAC championship,” Dupic wrote. “But it all centers around the incredible blessings the boys of CUNE Baseball are to me. I’m thankful to have been taken on this ride. I can’t thank everyone (CUNE staff, administrators, athletic directors, coaches and trainers, parents, alumni, friends and supporters, etc.) enough. And most of all, I can’t thank the players enough. You did it.”

Many players also expressed their joy via social media. Sophomore Johnny May tweeted, “How I feel about not sharing the GPAC title” along with a gif of Napoleon Dynamite dancing. A teammate of May’s in high school, shortstop Logan Ryan tweeted, “When you’re a GPAC champ” coupled with a photo of he and Casey Hall leaping high into the air in celebration of a recent walk-off win over Briar Cliff. Tweeted senior left-handed pitcher Josh Prater, “GPAC Champs! Couldn’t be a better group of guys to win it with.” Another tweet by Wyatt Weller read, “Gone from not making the tourney to GPAC champs. What a difference our coach has made. Not done yet!”

The euphoria is appropriate for an accomplishment that has been so elusive for the program. Four-year seniors like Prater, catcher Ryan Fesmire and outfielder Tyler Nelson were here for the 2014 season that saw the Bulldogs go 16-30 overall. Records like that were actually a big improvement compared to the decade of the 1990s. Concordia’s 30 wins in 2017 are more than the program had during the entire 1990s (27 wins). Players from the mid- to late-1990s claim that a losing streak reached more than 100 at one point.

It's a much different age of Concordia baseball. “There were a couple of different things. I would say the culture is a big thing,” Fesmire said after the Bulldogs had clinched at least a share of the GPAC title at Dakota Wesleyan last week. “The culture change from my freshman to senior year is incredible, as well as the quality of people on the team, the quality of play, the quality of pitching and hitting. Really, everything is way better.”

The 2017 Bulldogs have a nice balance of hitting, pitching and defense. The Concordia pitching staff has the GPAC’s highest strikeout rate (6.45 per game) and also ranks second in opponent batting average (.261) and third in ERA (4.17), among conference teams. An offense led by senior third baseman Casey Berg, sports GPAC ranks of second in runs per game (6.7), third in slugging percentage (.440) and fourth in batting average (.291).

The growth of the pitching staff makes the Bulldogs a potentially dangerous postseason team. Three starters own ERAs south of 3.00: Prater (2.07, 5-3, 61 innings), Wade Council (2.22, 6-1, 48.2 innings) and Jason Munsch (2.96, 5-1, 45.2 innings). In addition, Nick Little fired a nine-inning complete game without allowing an earned run during last week’s four-game series at Dakota Wesleyan. In other words, Dupic has four reliable starters, who are spinning it well at the right time.

Concordia now earns the right to host this week’s conference tournament at Plum Creek Park, where it hopes to have a festive atmosphere. After an April 23 doubleheader sweep of Briar Cliff, second baseman Christian Meza pleaded with fans to continue showing their support. “A lot of fans are starting to come out,” Meza said. “Keep on coming. We need the support.”

The postseason run will begin for the Bulldogs on Thursday when they go up against the eighth seed in the bracket, which will be either Briar Cliff (16-32, 9-17 GPAC) or Doane (21-29, 11-17 GPAC). The bracket is not official, but fourth-seeded Hastings (26-20, 15-11 GPAC) and fifth-seeded Mount Marty (20-26, 14-14 GPAC) will also be making their way to Seward as part of the four-team pod.

“It’s a nice opportunity for us to play more games at home and in front of our fans,” Dupic said. “It looks to be a beautiful weekend and I’m hoping it will create a fun environment for the guys to play in. I’m thankful to be able to bring this type of experience to the Seward and Concordia communities.”

Fesmire just wants to keep playing. Said the native of Firestone, Colo., “Any time you tell me I get to play more baseball I’m going to be really excited. I get to put off being an adult for a while and play more baseball. I’m overjoyed by that.”

By way of winning the regular-season conference title, the Bulldogs have locked up an automatic berth to the national championships in what will be the program’s first-ever appearance on the national stage. The National Championship Opening Round runs May 15-18 at the nine campus sites that were announced on Monday. The 45-team event features nine, five-team double-elimination tournaments. Opening Round qualifiers and brackets will be announced Thursday, May 11.

No matter what happens the rest of the way, 2017 will be remembered as a breakthrough campaign. Said Dupic, “I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”

Concordia Bracket Schedule

*All games nine innings; no run rules

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Game #1 – No. 4 Hastings vs. No. 5 Mount Marty, 3 p.m.
Game #2 – No. 1 Concordia vs. No. 8 Briar Cliff, 6 p.m.

Friday, May 5, 2017
Game #3 – Winner Game #1 vs. Winner Game #2, 12 p.m.  
Game #4 – Loser Game #1 vs. Loser Game #2, 3 p.m.
Game #5 – Winner Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3, 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 6, 2017
Game #6 – Winner Game #3 vs. Winner Game #5, 12 p.m.
Game #7 – Game #6 winner/loser, 3 p.m. (if necessary)

GPAC weekly honors pulled in by Nelson, Prater

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Two senior members of the GPAC champion Concordia University baseball team have collected conference awards. On Tuesday, the league named Tyler Nelson the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Player of the Week and Josh Prater the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Pitcher of the Week. These are the second and third weekly honors for the Bulldogs in 2017. Senior Casey Berg collected GPAC player of the week accolades on April 4.

Nelson has been the team’s primary left fielder during the stretch run. As part of Concordia’s 5-1, six-game week, Nelson went 7-for-17 (.412) with five runs, two doubles, a triple, five RBIs and three walks. His biggest hit came in the 10-8 win over Hastings when he delivered a game-winning two-run double. The native of LaPorte, Texas, is hitting .353 with an impressive .466 on-base percentage in 35 games this season.

Prater is the veteran of the pitching staff. In game 1 of last week’s four-game series at Dakota Wesleyan, the lefty tossed a seven-inning, two-hit shutout that included five strikeouts and just one walk allowed. The native of Colorado Springs, Colo., has been remarkably consistent this season, surrendering more than three earned runs in only one of his 10 starts. Among GPAC pitchers, Prater ranks second in ERA (2.07). Prater is Concordia’s staff leader with 61 innings pitched.

Head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad is set to return to action on Thursday when it plays host to the Concordia Bracket of the GPAC tournament. In the second contest of the day, the top-seeded Bulldogs (30-19, 19-9 GPAC) will be the No. 8 seed, which will be either Briar Cliff (16-32, 9-17 GPAC) or Doane (21-29, 11-17 GPAC) at 6 p.m. CT.

How to watch/follow GPAC baseball tournament

The Bulldog baseball program welcomes fans from the Seward and Concordia communities and from visiting teams to the Concordia Bracket of the 2017 GPAC Baseball Tournament. The tournament proceedings in Seward will take place May 4-6. Plum Creek Park serves as the venue. Attending fans will be charged admission each day. The costs are $8 for adults and $3 for children (ages below five are admitted free of charge). One payment allows attendants to watch each of the games on that particular day.

For those unable to attend, Concordia will provide live video streams and statistics for all games. Use the links below to access live coverage.


Concordia Bracket Schedule

*All games nine innings; no run rules

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Game #1 – No. 4 Hastings vs. No. 5 Mount Marty, 3 p.m.
Game #2 – No. 1 Concordia vs. No. 8 Briar Cliff, 6 p.m.

Friday, May 5, 2017
Game #3 – Winner Game #1 vs. Winner Game #2, 12 p.m.  
Game #4 – Loser Game #1 vs. Loser Game #2, 3 p.m.
Game #5 – Winner Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3, 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 6, 2017
Game #6 – Winner Game #3 vs. Winner Game #5, 12 p.m.
Game #7 – Game #6 winner/loser, 3 p.m. (if necessary)

GPAC regular season champs hold off eighth-seeded Briar Cliff

SEWARD, Neb. – A large crowd convened upon Plum Creek Park for Concordia’s first home appearance since claiming the GPAC regular-season crown. The game got a little too exciting for fans of the Bulldogs when Briar Cliff loaded the bases in the ninth. In the end, top-seeded Concordia eked out a 6-5 victory over the conference tournament’s No. 8 seed on Thursday evening.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has won eight of its last nine games and now stands at 31-19 overall as it moves forward in GPAC postseason action.

“We certainly made it exciting,” Dupic said. “I’m just proud of our toughness and our grit to continue to compete. Our offensive guys put some really good at bats together and really competed. It was a terrific finish and a fun night at the ballpark. We got a terrific crowd. I’m so happy to have so much great support here. Hopefully we can keep this thing going.”

The ninth inning was wild – and a bit scary. Charger third baseman Michael Wagaman got hit in the face by pitch from Desmond Pineda, loading the bases with only one out. Then came a controversial call on a play that resulted in the second out. Pineda followed that up by inducing a pop out to second base, resulting in sighs of relief at Plum Creek Park.

Nothing came easy against a squad that split a four-game series in Seward late in the regular season. Briar Cliff (18-33) tagged Concordia starting pitcher Josh Prater for five hits and three runs in the top of the first. The Bulldogs waited until the fifth inning to take their first lead of the day when Tyler Nelson tucked a no doubter of a home run inside the right field foul pole for a two-run homer. Suddenly, Concordia had a 6-4 advantage.

It was also a big night for freshman Wade Council, who delivered a two-run homer of his own and was along for the ride on Nelson’s big fly. Council evened the game at 4-4 when his deep drive caromed off the glove of a leaping Jacob Hom in right and went over the fence. Council also doubled as part of a 2-for-4 evening.

“I was just thinking, stick to my approach and good things will happen,” Council said. “He threw me my approach pitch and I took it. I needed every inch, but I’ll take it.”

Tanner Wauhob saved the Bulldogs’ bacon out of the bullpen. After Prater allowed a pair of hits to open up the third inning, Dupic turned to Wauhob. He limited the damage in the third and proceeded to fire 6.1 innings while surrendering six hits, two walks and one earned run. He handed the ball off to Pineda with runners at first and second and one out in the ninth.

Concordia opened up its scoring in the second inning when Jake Adams doubled and scored on an RBI single by Ryan Fesmire. A second run came in on Casey Berg’s run scoring base hit off Briar Cliff starter Andrew Stover. At that point, the Charger lead had been cut to 3-2.

Council, Nelson, Jason Galeano and Christian Meza each had two hits. Concordia got outhit by Briar Cliff, 14-11.

The Bulldogs will be back at it at 12 p.m. CT on Friday as action continues in the Concordia Bracket. Concordia will take on fourth-seeded Hastings (27-22), which defeated No. 5 Mount Marty, 5-0, in the opening game at Plum Creek Park on Thursday. Because the Broncos won the coin flip, they will be the home team on the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs hope for another strong fan turnout on Friday. A total of three games will be played in Seward on day two.

“It was a good feeling throughout the day,” Council said. “It’s always nice to host and have home field advantage. That helps, and we’re confident in ourselves.”

Concordia Bracket Schedule

*All games nine innings; no run rules

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Game #1 – No. 4 Hastings def. No. 5 Mount Marty, 5-0
Game #2 – No. 1 Concordia def. No. 8 Briar Cliff, 6-5

Friday, May 5, 2017
Game #3 – No. 1 Concordia vs. No. 4 Hastings, 12 p.m.  
Game #4 – No. 5 Mount Marty vs. No. 8 Briar Cliff (elimination game), 3 p.m.
Game #5 – Winner Game #4 vs. Loser Game #3, 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 6, 2017
Game #6 – Winner Game #3 vs. Winner Game #5, 12 p.m.
Game #7 – Game #6 winner/loser, 3 p.m. (if necessary)

Live Coverage


Bulldogs move to driver's seat in Concordia Bracket

SEWARD, Neb. – There were anxious moments for the second-straight day of GPAC Baseball Tournament’s Concordia Bracket. Once again, Desmond Pineda and the Bulldog bullpen delivered in the clutch, paving the way for a 3-2 win over Hastings in Friday afternoon action at Plum Creek Park. Concordia overcame a strong pitching performance by Bronco starter Will Frei.

Now 2-0 in the postseason, third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad has moved to 32-19 overall. The Bulldogs are one win away from hosting the GPAC championship game on Tuesday night.

“The way this tournament is set up, going 2-0 is a very big advantage,” Dupic said. “We just made a commitment that we were going to do whatever it takes to go 2-0. We knew what we were getting into today. Jason Munsch was great. I would have loved to have seen him keep going, but we wanted to limit his pitch count a little bit. There are some guys we might not be able to use again, but we’re certainly in the driver’s seat.”

Pineda has become a master at wiggling his way out of jams. He induced two pop ups to end the game and escape a bases loaded ninth-inning mess in Thursday’s 6-5 win over Briar Cliff. After a two-run homer by Luke Christensen got the Broncos within a run in the bottom of the seventh, Concordia found itself in more trouble in that frame when the bases. Pineda put out the fire and proceeded to throw 2.2 scoreless innings to earn his second save in as many days.

The trio of Munsch, Jake Fosgett and Pineda was able to match Frei’s performance. Munsch struck out four Broncos in his three shutout frames. Fosgett went 3.1 innings, using a sharp breaking ball to fan six hitters. Pineda added three K’s, bringing the staff total to 13 on the day.

“I just come out and compete,” said Pineda, who now has five saves on the year. “I don’t care who’s in the box. I’m just going to come in and do what I have to do. I’ve been in these situations all year – one-run lead or one run down. It’s just what I’ve been doing all season. That’s when I like to work.”

Unlike Thursday, the Bulldogs never did trail on Friday. They broke loose with the game’s first run in the third inning when Casey Berg singled and then scored on Christian Montero’s RBI base hit. The lead swelled to 3-0 in the seventh inning thanks to an RBI single by Casey Berg and a sacrifice fly by Christian Meza.

The ‘pen has been arguably the primary factor in Concordia’s postseason success to this point. Relievers have thrown 13 of 18 innings at the GPAC tournament. Tanner Wauhob navigated 6.1 innings to help the Bulldogs survive an upset scare from the tournament’s No. 8 seed. Pineda finishing games has been a constant this week for Concordia.

“Des is just a really good competitor,” Dupic said. “He really likes that moment. We’ve seen him rise to the occasion. I think it’s just something he enjoys. Jake Fosgett did such a fantastic job today to bridge the gap. That’s nine innings of freshmen, which is pretty cool in a game like this.”

Hastings outhit the Bulldogs, 8-6, but left 10 men on base. The Broncos spoiled a complete game effort from Frei, who allowed only two earned runs on six hits and four walks. Berg (2-for-5, run, RBI) was the lone Bulldog to record multiple hits.

For the second year in a row, Concordia finds itself needing one win in order to advance to the GPAC championship game. Saturday’s action will get underway at 12 p.m. CT from Plum Creek Park. Mount Marty (22-27) is the last team standing in the way in the Concordia Bracket. In the Midland Bracket, Midland and Morningside will go head-to-head.

Concordia Bracket Schedule

*All games nine innings; no run rules

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Game #1 – No. 4 Hastings def. No. 5 Mount Marty, 3-0
Game #2 – No. 1 Concordia def. No. 8 Briar Cliff, 6-5

Friday, May 5, 2017
Game #3 – No. 1 Concordia def. No. 4 Hastings, 3-2
Game #4 – No. 5 Mount Marty def. No. 8 Briar Cliff, 6-5
Game #5 – No. 5 Mount Marty def. No. 4 Hastings, 8-2

Saturday, May 6, 2017
Game #6 – No. 1 Concordia vs. No. 5 Mount Marty, 12 p.m.
Game #7 – Game #6 winner/loser, 3 p.m. (if necessary)

Bulldogs advance to GPAC championship game for first time ever

SEWARD, Neb. – With Concordia’s cadre of freshman arms, the future looks especially bright. But so does the present. With a chance to lock up a spot in Tuesday’s GPAC tournament championship game, the Bulldogs leaned upon the right arm of rookie Nick Little, pulled away late and toppled Mount Marty, 8-2, at Plum Creek Park on Saturday afternoon.

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s top-seeded squad took care of business at home over the past few days. Its route to the conference title game has included wins over Briar Cliff, Hastings and Mount Marty as part of the Concordia Bracket. The Bulldogs have won 10 of its last 11 games and stand at 33-19.

“We’ve executed and played well enough to win,” Dupic said. “Certainly there are things we can do better, but all-in-all I have to be happy with the way we’ve been playing. We’ve pitched and defended very well and that’s put us in position to win games. Today we were able to get into their bullpen and that really helped. We’re happy to be able to move on.”

Little allowed a pair of hits and a run in the first inning and then settled in. He only struck three Lancers over his nine-inning complete game, but he coaxed plenty of ground balls to the left side that were gobbled up by shortstop Logan Ryan and third baseman Casey Berg. Little scattered eight hits and walked just one hitter while tossing his second complete game in a row. Sixteen outs came from ground balls on Saturday.

Freshmen pitchers have actually tossed every inning of each of Concordia’s last two wins in the postseason. Dupic has not been hesitant to turn the ball over to the likes of Little, Wade Council, Jake Fosgett, Jason Munsch and Desmond Pineda.

“We have a good class here,” Little said. “It’s going to be fun to watch us. We’re freshmen right now and we’re doing good things. I can’t wait to see what we’re going to be in future years.”

After one-run wins on Thursday and Friday, Dupic was happy to see late innings with much less drama. The Bulldogs broke open a game that had been 3-2 after six innings. As part of a three-run seventh, Council singled in a run and Jake Adams plated another with a sacrifice fly. Concordia provided itself more breathing room with a Christian Meza RBI single and Jason Galeano sac fly in the eighth.

Meza enjoyed a big day out of the No. 3 spot, going 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and two RBIs. Christian Montero delivered two hits, including a double, and scored two runs. Concordia totaled 12 hits with one apiece coming from seven different players.

But Little emerged as the story of the game. There have been some ups and downs for the Lithia, Fla., native, but he’s put things together at the right time.

“He’s finding it here recently,” Dupic said. “You can tell he’s more confident. His fastball has been better over the past two games. That’s been the difference that I’ve seen. He’s had a little more juice to it and he’s commanding it better. That really sets up his changeup. He has to start with his fastball.”

Mount Marty (22-28) made a nice push on Friday with wins over eighth-seeded Briar Cliff and fourth-seeded Hastings. Few hitters performed as well in the Concordia Bracket as the Lancers’ Bo Howard. He went 3-for-4 with a run against Little.

Already a national tournament qualifier and GPAC regular season champion, the Bulldogs will take aim at adding some more hardware on Tuesday when the conference tournament championship game is staged at Plum Creek Park. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT. Second-seeded Midland (39-18), which also won its own bracket, will serve as the opponent. The two sides split their four regular-season matchups.

Concordia is hoping for another spirited evening atmosphere like it had on Thursday for the win over Briar Cliff.

“I’m so happy for the players,” Dupic said. “That’s what we talked about with the players was how awesome of an atmosphere it’s going to be Tuesday night. It’s going to be a beautiful night. It’s going to be an unbelievable night to come out and watch a baseball game.

Concordia Bracket Results

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Game #1 – No. 4 Hastings def. No. 5 Mount Marty, 3-0
Game #2 – No. 1 Concordia def. No. 8 Briar Cliff, 6-5

Friday, May 5, 2017
Game #3 – No. 1 Concordia def. No. 4 Hastings, 3-2
Game #4 – No. 5 Mount Marty def. No. 8 Briar Cliff, 6-5
Game #5 – No. 5 Mount Marty def. No. 4 Hastings, 8-2

Saturday, May 6, 2017
Game #6 – No. 1 Concordia def. No. 5 Mount Marty, 8-2

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
GPAC Championship: No. 1 Concordia vs. No. 2 Midland, 6 p.m.

Bulldogs set to host GPAC championship on historic night

SEWARD, Neb. – History will be made on Tuesday night. For the first time ever, Seward, Neb., will be the host city for the GPAC baseball tournament championship game when the first pitch is tossed at 6 p.m. CT. Plum Creek Park, just north of campus, will serve as the venue for Nebraska rivals, top-seeded Concordia and second-seeded Midland. Both teams held serve as the favorites in their respective pods.

Some of the largest crowds at Bulldog baseball games in recent history have come during the past week as the Concordia Bracket played out. Conference regular-season champions for the first time since 1986, the program has enjoyed a season of firsts and is hoping for another big turnout on Tuesday.

“I’m so happy for the players,” Dupic said. “That’s what we talked about with the players was how awesome of an atmosphere it’s going to be Tuesday night. It’s going to be a beautiful night. It’s going to be an unbelievable night to come out and watch a baseball game.”

The Bulldogs are built to win in a tournament setting with the way their pitching staff has blossomed. Senior lefty Josh Prater is the veteran leader of a group that has gotten a tremendous boost from the freshman class. Rookie hurlers have covered all 18 innings in wins over Hastings and Mount Marty in the conference tournament. Nick Little fired a complete game, scattering eight hits while allowing two runs in the victory over the Lancers that sent Concordia to the championship game.

Behind solid work from the pitching staff, the Bulldogs are 22-6 over their last 28 games against conference opponents (started 0-3 in GPAC play). Included in that stretch is a 10-1 record over the past 11 contests. During that period, Concordia pitchers, have surrendered 26 earned runs in 88 innings (2.66 ERA). Freshman Wade Council tossed a seven-inning shutout in a 6-0 conference championship clinching win at Dakota Wesleyan on April 29. Dupic has used gone mostly with a four-man rotation, including Council (6-1, 2.22 ERA, 48.2 innings), Little (6-3, 4.03 ERA, 67 innings), Jason Munsch (5-1, 2.77 ERA, 48.2 innings) and Prater (5-3, 2.57 ERA, 63 innings).

All of this is new and different for a program that missed the conference tournament as recently as 2015. The Bulldogs now have a chance to avenge their 2016 GPAC postseason losses to Midland. The Warriors ended Concordia’s run last season by taking two games from Concordia in Fremont last May. That came after the Bulldogs had upset Midland on the tournament’s first day.

Concordia’s 33 wins are five more than the school record total produced in 2016. This year’s squad has also set new program standards for conference wins (19) and postseason victories (three). At 87-64 since the 2015 season began, the Bulldogs are in the midst of their winningest three-year stretch ever.

The improved pitching staff has been aided by defensive work that has rated up with the best in the conference. Fielding percentage is a mostly meaningless measure. It takes a deeper look at the numbers to reveal the team’s exceptional glove work. Even with the highest pitcher strikeout rate in the conference, the Bulldogs lead the GPAC in both assists (9.8) and putouts (22.9) per game. Concordia’s nifty infield defense turned three double plays in last week’s win over Briar Cliff.

“They’re doing a really nice job,” Dupic said. “Sometimes you don’t hear much about the infield defense unless they’re not doing the job. They’ve really been playing well for a while now. They’ve gotten comfortable out there. We’ve turned a lot of double plays over the last couple weeks. As a pitcher, it gives you a lot of confidence to pound the strike zone.”

On the other side, Midland entered the postseason with the highest BoChip rating in the GPAC. The Warriors have been a perennially competitive team in the conference. Center fielder Cole Gray (slash line of .415/.466/.670) is the straw that stirs the drink for the Warriors. Gray is backed by additional key contributors in Conlon McKenzie (.392 BA, .461 OBP, 5 HR) and Anthony Virgen (.363 BA, .459 OBP, 5 HR). The pitching staff is headed by Torrey Escamilla (12-0, 3.08 ERA, 84.2 innings) and Kiefer Musiel (9-1, 3.64 ERA, 76.2 innings). Head coach Chad Miller is in the midst of his third year at the helm of the program. By way of reaching the GPAC championship game, Midland has earned a national tournament berth and will join Concordia in the opening round.

Live coverage will be provided for Tuesday’s game. Fans can watch a webcast HERE and follow live stats HERE. Admission for the game will be $8 for adults and $3 for children. Students with GPAC IDs will be admitted free. NAIA passes and media credentials will also be accepted.

Adams earns CoSIDA Academic All-District award

CoSIDA Academic All-District choices

SEWARD, Neb. – A 2016 GPAC Gold Glove Team selection, senior center fielder Jake Adams has garnered 2017 Academic All-District (College Division) accolades, as chosen by College Sports Information Directors of the Year. The announcement was made on May 4. Adams is the program’s second All-District winner in three seasons, joining Jaydee Jurgensen (2015).

The CoSIDA Academic All-District™ Baseball Teams have been released to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. For more information about the Academic All-District™ and Academic All-America® Teams program, please visit http://cosida.com.

Adams earned his degree in business administration. The native of Mason City, Iowa, is batting .307 with a .423 on-base percentage. He has eight doubles, one triple and two home runs while starting 51 of 52 games for head coach Ryan Dupic’s GPAC championship team. In 103 career games as a Bulldog, Adams has batted .291 with six home runs and 54 RBIs. Adams will join Dupic’s coaching staff next season as a graduate assistant.

Adams is the fourth Concordia Academic All-District selection in 2016-17. Both Chandler Folkerts and Hallick Lehmann collected Academic All-America honors.

The College Division is broken down into athletes at institutions from the following states: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

2016-17 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Jake Adams, Baseball
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Le’Dontrae Gooden, Football
*Hallick Lehmann, Football 

2015-16 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
*Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Adam Meirose, Football
Becky Mueller, Basketball
*CJ Muller, Track & Field
*Kim Wood, Cross Country/Track & Field 

2014-15 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Brendan Buchanan, Soccer
Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Jaydee Jurgensen, Baseball
Adam Meirose, Football
Bailey Morris, Basketball
*Rachel Mussell, Soccer
Shawn Rodehorst, Golf
Ben Sievert, Cross Country/Track & Field
Melissa Stine, Soccer

GPAC regular-season champs fall in conference tournament final

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University baseball program could not have asked for a more perfect night or a better fan turnout while hosting the GPAC tournament championship game for the first time ever. A sloppy Concordia defensive effort and a game-defining three-run homer by Midland’s Conlon McKenzie made the difference at Plum Creek Park on Tuesday night. The visiting Warriors won, 5-3.

For third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad, it was just its second loss in 12 games. The Bulldogs will enter national tournament play with an overall mark of 33-20.

“Obviously we knew that (we already had a national tournament bid),” Dupic said. “That’s always in the back of your mind. We were trying to win. Every time you play, you want to compete and win. We just fell a little bit short tonight.”

The defensive lapses were unlike the Concordia team that had gotten on a roll and moved past Midland (40-18) by playing the best baseball in the conference down the stretch. There has been no equal in the GPAC to the Bulldog pitching staff over the last few weeks. It did a solid job on Tuesday after starter Tanner Wauhob surrendered three hits and two runs in the opening inning. Other than the home run allowed to McKenzie, ace reliever Desmond Pineda was again virtually lights out. He tossed the final 4.1 innings.

The Bulldogs actually outhit Midland, 12-7. However, all 12 hits were singles and only two came with runners in scoring position. Warrior relief pitchers got big third outs on strikeouts that ended the seventh and eighth innings with two runners on base.

Christian Montero (3-for-5) and Jason Galeano (3-for-3, walk) routinely squared up the baseball off a Midland staff that went five pitchers deep on Tuesday. Shea Bennett provided the best work of any Warrior hurler. He tossed 3.2 innings of shutout ball and earned the victory.

There really wasn’t much that separated Concordia from earning another trophy. The defensive miscues and lack of timely hitting doomed it.

“Minus our defense, we played a good baseball game,” Dupic said. “We had a lot of hits off some good pitchers. I thought we hit the ball well and pitched well. We were one pitch away from holding them to two runs the whole game. We just put ourselves in such tough situations defensively today and it made us throw more high stress pitches.”

McKenzie was the ultra-villain in this game. He drove in all five runs, including two that came around in the first inning on his double to the right center gap. Dupic even chose to intentionally walk McKenzie in the seventh in a move that paid off. Pineda then got Tanner Bos to tap out weakly.

Now the Bulldogs wait for Thursday’s announcement from the NAIA on opening round assignments for the national championship. The NAIA will reveal the opening round details via a live selection show at 3 p.m. CT. It can be viewed by accessing the NAIA’s YouTube channel. For further information on the national tournament, click HERE.

It’s time to reset and get amped for the national tournament. The 2017 Bulldogs can take pride in accomplishing feats that no one has ever seen done by the program.

“I’m really excited for Thursday and for them to get to experience something like that,” Dupic said. “It will be a natural way to turn the page. As soon as you see your name up there and you’re with your teammates, there will be a lot of excitement. I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Dupic takes coaching award; 11 Bulldogs honored by GPAC

GPAC release

GPAC Coach of the Year: Ryan Dupic
First Team All-GPAC: Casey Berg, Jason Galeano, Jason Munsch
Second Team All-GPAC: Ryan Fesmire, Christian Montero, Desmond Pineda, Josh Prater
Honorable Mention All-GPAC: Jake Adams, Wade Council, Nick Little, Christian Meza

SEWARD, Neb. – After winning the GPAC regular-season title, an impressive haul of postseason conference honors came rolling in on Wednesday (May 10) for the Concordia University baseball program. The architect of a quick rise to the top of the conference, third-year skipper Ryan Dupic has been named the GPAC Coach of the Year. In addition, 11 Bulldog players garnered some form of all-conference recognition. That number includes three first teamers, four second teamers and four who were placed on the honorable mention list.

Under Dupic’s watch, the program has enjoyed its winningest three-year stretch ever, going 87-65 during that time. Concordia has re-broken the school record for victories in a single season in each of Dupic’s three years guiding the team. Dupic helped end a conference title drought that lasted for 31 years at Concordia. One of the rewards will be the Bulldogs’ first-ever trip to the national tournament. Concordia will enter the opening round at nationals with an overall record of 33-20.

After honorable mention accolades the past two seasons, third baseman Casey Berg vaulted to the first team in 2017. Berg became one of the conference’s most productive offensive players this season, batting .338 with an on-base percentage of .433 and slugging percentage of .535. The native of Carroll, Iowa, has also recorded 16 doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 35 RBIs, 28 walks and 10 stolen bases. Berg is now the school record holder for runs scored in a single season (52). He ranks among the top 10 players in the GPAC in runs scored, slugging percentage, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases and stolen bases.

First team pick Jason Galeano (Brooklyn, N.Y.) has made a significant impact in what will be his only season as a Bulldog after transferring from NCAA Division II Illinois-Springfield. While serving as both a designated hitter and first baseman, Galeano is hitting .314 with six home runs and 39 RBIs (team high). He owns an on-base percentage of .396 and slugging percentage of .461. His 60 hits rank second on the team behind only Berg. Galeano has yet to commit an error in 132 chances in the field.

Jason Munsch (Campbell, Calif.), the team’s third first team all-conference choice, has been one of the most difficult pitchers in the league to hit. He’s limited opponents to a .172 batting average and boasts a 2.77 ERA over 48.2 innings. He is the team leader with 57 strikeouts (10.5 strikeouts/nine innings) and owns a record of 5-1. He’s made 10 starts and has allowed just 29 hits. He tossed a seven-inning, one-hit shutout against Morningside on April 2.

Catcher Ryan Fesmire, a second team All-GPAC performer, has been behind the plate for most of Munsch’s punch outs. Fesmire, who hails from Firestone, Colo., is the team’s most experienced veteran having played in 140 career games. Fesmire has been at his best as a senior. He’s hitting .259 with a .333 on-base percentage and .348 slugging percentage. He’s helped work with a pitching staff that entered the GPAC championship tilt with a 2.66 ERA over its previous 11 games.

A first team choice in 2016, Christian Montero (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) finds himself on the second team this season. A dependable middle-of-the-order bat, Montero is hitting .294 with five home runs and 27 RBIs. He owns a .404 on-base percentage and .483 slugging percentage. He tops the team with 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. His 19 doubles are a program single-season record. His biggest power surge came on April 8 when he drilled three home runs in a doubleheader sweep at Doane.

No GPAC reliever has been more valuable than Desmond Pineda, a second team all-conference pick. In his 17 appearances (two starts), he’s covered 40.1 innings and owns a sparkling 2.23 ERA. He’s allowed 30 hits and 15 walks to go up against 39 strikeouts. Pineda has also been credited with five saves and three victories. His longest outing was a seven-inning relief appearance when he surrendered just one run and struck out eight in the 13-inning game against Dordt.

The final second team honoree is senior Josh Prater, who moved up from honorable mention accolades in 2016. The lefty from Colorado Springs, Colo., has taken the ball 11 times, working 63 innings and pitching to a 2.57 ERA. He has recorded 54 strikeouts while allowing 65 hits and 20 walks. He has tossed three complete games, including one shutout. In 177.2 career innings as a Bulldog, Prater has a 13-8 record and 3.85 ERA.

A GPAC Gold Glove Team selection in 2016, Jake Adams is joined by teammates Wade Council, Nick Little and Christian Meza with honorable mention accolades. Adams has served as the starting center fielder and is hitting .306 with a .420 on-base percentage. An impact two-way player, Council is 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 48.2 innings as a pitcher and is batting .276 with a pair of home runs at the plate. Coming off two-straight nine-inning complete games, Nick Little has lowered his ERA to 4.03 over a team high 67 innings. His record is 6-3. At second base, Meza has been one of the team’s most consistent hitters. He owns a .311 batting average and has driven in 37 runs.

The Bulldogs will learn of their opening round site assignment when the announcement is made at 3 p.m. CT on Thursday (May 11). Check back for complete coverage.

Next stop: Hutchinson, Kansas

SEWARD, Neb. – The GPAC championship season will continue into the opening round of the national championships for the Concordia University baseball team. On Thursday (May 11), the Bulldogs learned that they had been assigned to the Hutchinson Bracket, hosted by Tabor College (Kan.) in Hutchinson, Kan. As the No. 5 seed in the bracket, Concordia will take Hobart Detter Field at 11 a.m. CT on Monday (May 15) and play a familiar foe in fourth-seeded University of Jamestown (N.D.).

Members of the team gathered inside the lecture hall of the science building on the Concordia campus to watch Thursday afternoon’s selection show. Lots of wide grins appeared when Concordia’s name came up on the screen.

“They were all gossiping and couldn’t wait to see where we were headed,” said GPAC Coach of the Year Ryan Dupic. “That kind of excitement is a really awesome thing to see. You can just tell how much they’re looking forward to the opportunity and the chance to continue to go play. Little moments like that are fun to see.”

This will be a completely new experience for almost everyone associated with the Bulldog baseball program. Concordia is making its first ever trip to the national tournament. As the pitching coach at Buena Vista University for seven seasons, Dupic helped the Beavers make NCAA Division III national tournament appearances three times, including a 2011 World Series berth.

Dupic wants to keep the type of workmanlike approach that has allowed the Bulldogs to win 10 of their last 12 games during a stretch run that locked up the program’s first conference championship since 1986.

“You have to stay the same and continue to be who you are,” Dupic said. “You also have to respond well to failure. We’re going to see some good players and some good teams there. You have to be able to focus on yourself, play the next pitch and continue to compete. You can’t afford to get in your own way.”

The Hutchinson Bracket will be a difficult one to navigate. It includes three teams ranked in the top 15 of the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll: No. 6 Clarke University (Iowa), No. 9 Missouri Baptist University and No. 13 Tabor College. Those three teams are the top three seeds in the pod. The 45-team national qualifying field consists of 30 automatic qualifiers – given to conference regular-season champions, tournament champions or tournament runners-up – and 15 at-large teams. Conferences with 10-or-more members received two automatic qualifiers, while leagues with less than 10 are given one.

The opening round consists of a double-elimination format. Top-seeded Clarke has a bye and will play the winner between Concordia and Jamestown at 6 p.m. CT on Monday. The team that emerges from the pod will advance to in the Avista NAIA World Series, held May 26 – June 2 in Lewiston, Idaho.

What the Bulldogs are saying …

Jake Adams
I knew Coach Dupic when he was at BV and he’s a great guy. Knowing him and knowing what he’s about made it a lot easier to come here. He sold us on a vision, which is a tough thing for some of us. You get sold on a vision and you think about, ‘all right, let’s make it happen.’ To see it come to fruition is a pretty cool thing for all of us.

It’s been awesome. It’s a vision that we talked about. It can get frustrating sometimes to talk about things and not actually get to do it. We set these goals and we were able to go out and accomplish them. With the year that Coach Dupic has had, it’s been awesome to do it this year.

It's going to be a tough game. They have a very good pitcher. I’m sure we’ll probably see him. He shut us down twice already. It would be good to get a third shot at him. As a hitter going back to face a pitcher a third time, you know what he’s going to throw. Hopefully we can make the adjustments.

Ryan Fesmire
It was a lot of fun. Originally I didn’t think we were going to be too excited about it (seeing the selection show) but once it happens and your name gets called, it’s pretty exciting. This is happening. We get to go play some good teams and we’re all really excited about that.

We’re definitely on the rise right now. Special things are happening at Concordia and I believe they’ll happen for a very long time after us seniors leave. The program is definitely on the rise.

It’s just been about having fun. In practice we’re playing carefree. In the games we’re playing carefree. We’re going to go down there and have fun and win some baseball games. That’s the goal all season. You have fun with your brothers and enjoy it while it lasts.

Josh Prater
The national tournament is something I’ve never experienced. It’s really exciting. It’s just great to be with the guys, be together and have that excitement before we really get rolling and focus on how to beat Jamestown. It’s nice to have this moment to be excited.

It’s been a combination of things (in regards to personal improvement). Coach Dupic has really changed this program. He has changed it from a team that tried to a team expected greatness and a team expects a lot out of itself. That’s something really special. Obviously he’s great working individually with players. He’s really helped me to do what I do well. That’s been a big factor – his ability to handle pitchers and handle players.

I keep telling people that we could have a movie just about this. It’s awesome the way he’s led this team in spite of what he’s been experiencing. Our team has come together and has bonded. How we’ve handled ourselves, I think, has been an incredible story. It’s something I’ll carry with me the rest of my life. It’s something that has made the experience all the richer considering his condition.

Hutchinson Bracket
May 15-18 | Hobart-Detter Field/Rice Field | Hutchinson, Kan.
Hosted by Tabor (Kan.) 

Tournament website

1. Clarke (Iowa)
2. Missouri Baptist
3. Tabor (Kan.)
4. Jamestown (N.D.)
5. Concordia (Neb.)

Monday, May 15            
Game 1: 11 a.m. – No. 4 Jamestown (N.D.) vs. No. 5 Concordia (Neb.) 
Game 2: 2:30 p.m. – No. 2 Missouri Baptist vs. No. 3 Tabor (Kan.) 
Game 3: 6 p.m. – No. 1 Clarke (Iowa) vs. Winner Game 1 

Tuesday, May 16           
Game 4: 11 a.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 
Game 5: 2:30 p.m. – Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3 
Game 6: 6 p.m. – Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4  

Wednesday, May 17      
Game 7: 3 p.m. – Loser Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 
Game 8: 6 p.m. – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 7 

Thursday, May 18          
Game 9: 1 p.m. – Winner Game 8 vs. Loser Game 8 
(if necessary)

Previewing the Hutchinson Bracket

NAIA baseball national championships info

SEWARD, Neb. – Whichever team comes out of the Hutchinson Bracket will have earned a trip to the Avista NAIA World Series. Three squads ranked in the top 15 of the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll, including host Tabor College (Kan.), will make up the five-team field at the National Championship Opening Round site assigned to the Concordia University baseball team.

It will soon be time for third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad to get over the thrill of qualifying for the national tournament for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs gathered as a team to watch the selection show on Thursday. Now they focus on getting back to business.

In the first game of the Hutchinson Bracket, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs will take on fourth-seeded University of Jamestown (N.D.), a current member of the North Star Athletic Association and future member of the GPAC. Concordia split four games this regular season with the Jimmies. Three of those contests were decided by three runs or less. Jamestown’s at-large hopes got a big boost when it knocked off No. 2 Bellevue University twice in conference tournament action.

Concordia locked up its automatic bid to nationals when it clinched the GPAC regular-season title. The Bulldogs will enter the opening round having won 10 of their last 12 games. As a reward for its efforts this season, Concordia placed seven players on the All-GPAC first or second team and Dupic garnered the coach of the year award. Dupic has plenty of pitching options to choose from, including three starters with ERAs below 3.00.

For links to live coverage from the Hutchinson Bracket, check out Tabor’s tournament page HERE. Live updates will also be provided by the official Twitter account of Concordia University athletics, @cunebulldogs.

Breaking down the field

No. 1 Clarke University Crusaders
Head Coach
: Dan Spain (5th season)
Record: 45-12
Conference: Heart of America Athletic Conference
Location: Dubuque, Iowa
All-Conference Selections: Dan Spain (Coach of Year); P Michael Lopez (Pitcher of the Year; First Team); C Jacob Blunt (First Team); 1B Evan Faccenda (First Team); OF Kevin Hunley (First Team); DH Stephan Zanoni (First Team).
What to Watch For: Clarke has taken off under Dan Spain, who has made waves on the recruiting trails. The Crusaders can play long ball. They possess three thumpers with 10 or more home runs in Kevin Hunley (16), Evan Faccenda (12) and Stephan Zanoni (10). They can pitch, too. Their top three starters have all been dependable arms: Michael Lopez (12-0, 2.70 ERA), Tanner Lupton (8-2, 3.36 ERA) and Anthony Ruden (9-3, 3.90 ERA).

No. 2 Missouri Baptist University Spartans
Head Coach
: Eddie Uschold (18th season)
Record: 41-14
Conference: American Midwest Conference
Location: St. Louis, Mo.
All-Conference Selections: INF Aaron Collazo (First Team); OF Drew Kitson (First Team); SS Culver Plant (First Team); INF/RHP Chad Ramsey (First Team); RHP Nick Vichio (First Team); C/1B Brandon Schlichtig (Second Team); RHP Michael Syrett (Second Team).
What to Watch For: The national tournament will be a new experience for the Spartan players with the program’s most recent opening round appearance occurring in 2013. The champions of the American Midwest Conference regular season have held opposing hitters to just a .238 batting average and own an NAIA 11th best ERA of 3.44. The Spartans also rank 22nd nationally in runs per game. Their leading hitter is Culver Plant (.356) while Drew Kitson and Chad Ramsey have clubbed 10 homers apiece. Michael Syrett has logged the most innings (78.1)  and sports a 3.68 ERA.

No. 3 Tabor College Bluejays
Head Coach
: Mark Standiford (9th season)
Record: 41-15
Conference: Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference
Location: Hutchinson, Kan.
All-Conference Selections: SS Abdiel Alicea (First Team); OF Jacob Jones (First Team); Jordan Harris (First Team P/Second Team DH)
What to Watch For: An automatic national qualifier courtesy of a runner up KCAC tournament finish, the Bluejays possess one of the nation’s top hitters in Jordan Harris (.463, 15 HR, 74 RBI), who is also a fine pitcher. Jacob Jones has been similarly productive, hitting .417 with 12 homers and a .678 slugging percentage. Tabor tops the nation in batting average (.382) and hits per game (12.7) and ranks second in the NAIA in runs per game (9.4). The Bluejays won all four meetings with Concordia in 2016.

No. 4 University of Jamestown Jimmies
Head Coach
: ­Tom Hager (18th season)
Record: 40-19
Conference: North Star Athletic Association
Location: Jamestown, N.D.
All-Conference Selections: P Jerome Byndloss (First Team); P Eric Evans (First Team); C Quinn Irey (First Team); INF Peter Pennylegion (Second Team); INF/OF Taichi Sasaki (Second Team); INF Landon Uetz (Second Team).
What to Watch For: Jamestown has had a rock solid program under Tom Hager, whose squad features three players who were first team all-conference selections in the North Star. The brightest star is third baseman Landon Uetz, a .356 hitter with 11 home runs and a .629 slugging percentage. The Jimmies own three victories over Bellevue, one of the nine No. 1 seeds in the opening round. For what it’s worth, Jamestown sports a .970 fielding percentage (third best in the NAIA). Ace pitcher Jerome Byndloss will make life tough on opposing hitters.

No. 5 Concordia University Bulldogs
Head Coach
: Ryan Dupic (3rd season)
Record: 33-20
Conference: Great Plains Athletic Conference
Location: Seward, Neb.
All-Conference Selections: Ryan Dupic (Coach of Year); 3B Casey Berg (First Team); 1B/DH Jason Galeano (First Team); LHP Jason Munsch (First Team); C Ryan Fesmire (Second Team); OF/DH Christian Montero (Second Team); RHP Desmond Pineda (Second Team); LHP Josh Prater (Second Team).
What to Watch For: The underdogs of the bracket are making their first ever appearance in the national tournament after winning a conference title for the first time since 1986. It’s been a rapid rise for a program that did not even make its own league tournament two years ago. The Bulldogs have the pitching depth to compete in a tournament setting with three starters with ERAs below 3.00: Wade Council (2.22), Josh Prater (2.57) and Jason Munsch (2.77). Concordia will have the luxury of playing free of pressure as the No. 5 seed.

Bulldogs notch first national tournament win in program history

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – It was an unforgettable day in regards to Concordia University baseball history. Senior Jake Adams blasted perhaps the most significant home run in program annals and the fifth-seeded Bulldogs celebrated an 8-7 victory over fourth-seeded University of Jamestown (N.D.) in a National Championship Opening Round game on Monday. In its second game of the day, Concordia got hit hard in a 19-8 loss to Hutchinson Bracket top seed Clarke University (Iowa).

Third-year head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad earned its way into the national tournament by winning the GPAC regular-season title. The ride isn’t over yet for the Bulldogs, who will play at 6 p.m. CT on Tuesday in an elimination game.

“The guys battled well and were able to respond multiple times,” Dupic said of the opening game. “We got some really big swings offensively late in the game and got a good start from Jason (Munsch). It was a pretty well-played game on both sides. Certainly, having the opportunity to win your school’s first national tournament game is a good accomplishment.”

The win over Jamestown came with plenty of drama. Concordia took an 8-4 lead to the ninth, but saw its lead slipping away while the Jimmies made noise with two outs. Three different Jamestown hitters notched an RBI single, making it a one-run game. The final out proved elusive for reliever Desmond Pineda, who eventually closed the door by getting Kory Wolden to ground out with the bases loaded.

Thankfully the Bulldogs had built themselves a cushion in the bottom of the eighth. They regained the lead on Jason Galeano’s sacrifice fly. After striking out in his first three at bats of the day, Adams made amends by lining a bullet over the left field wall for a three-run shot. The clutch bomb won’t soon be forgotten by the Mason City, Iowa, native, nor any Bulldog fan in attendance on Monday.

“I kind of joked about it. The first three at bats it felt like one of the worst games of my life,” Adams said. “Then the home run changed everything. A lot of it was teammates making sure I was still in it. You’ve have to go into every at bat and pretend you’re 0-for-0 on the day. You can’t control what’s happened in the past.”

Dupic used freshmen exclusively to cover nine innings on the mound against Jamestown (40-20). Munsch tossed the first seven innings and then was pulled after allowing a game-tying solo homer to Alex Sablan leading off the eighth. Pineda entered the game and picked up the win by recording the final six outs. Munsch scattered nine hits and two walks, gave up four earned runs and struck out seven.

Junior Kaleb Geiger served as the primary source of offensive production for Concordia, particularly in the second contest. He drilled a two-run double in the second and then struck for a grand slam to left in the sixth. Geiger’s sixth home run of the season cut the deficit to 12-6, providing a glimmer of hope at the time. Geiger also surfaced with a pinch-hit RBI single that put the Bulldogs in front, 4-3, in the seventh inning versus Jamestown. Geiger reached base in all six plate appearances.

Ranked sixth in the most recent NAIA national poll, the Crusaders (46-12) squared up plenty of pitches from four different Bulldog hurlers. Seemingly everything Clarke hit found a hole. Thirteen of the 22 Crusader hits came off of starter Wade Council, who was chased in the fourth inning. Any chances the Bulldogs had after the Geiger slam were destroyed when Kevin Hunley answered with a bases clearing homer of his own in the bottom of the sixth.

In the victory, Casey Berg and Christian Meza both went 2-for-4. Meza drove in a first inning run with a double to right center. Concordia actually got outhit by the Jimmies, 14-7. Though he made a costly error, Jamestown third baseman Landon Uetz went 3-for-5 with a triple and a homer. Adams and Christian Montero had 2-for-5 efforts versus Clarke.

Concordia’s postseason life will be on the line on Tuesday evening (6 p.m. first pitch). The Bulldogs will play the winner between third-seeded Tabor College (Kan.), the host, and Jamestown. Those two sides will meet in the first game of day two in the Hutchinson Bracket. Should Concordia win on Tuesday, it would play again at 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday.

Tabor will provide a live stream for all games via its Stretch Internet portal. The fee is $9.95 per game or $25 for a tournament pass.

GPAC champs go down fighting in gut wrencher

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The Concordia University baseball program is coming in hot. The 2017 team has been eliminated from the opening round of the national championship, but it gave Hutchinson Bracket host and 13th-ranked Tabor College everything it could handle in Tuesday’s late night affair. The Bulldogs saw a one-run, ninth-inning lead slip away in a heartbreaker that ended with a 12-11 final score.

Afterwards, third-year head coach Ryan Dupic gathered his team and expressed his gratitude for 15 seniors who have helped transform a program that went 16-30 overall in 2014. Champions of the GPAC regular season, Concordia (34-22) is setting a new standard for what its baseball program can achieve.

“This is far and away the most I’ve ever turned over a team,” Dupic told his players in the postgame. “I turned it over to you boys and you ran away with it … We gave absolutely everything that we had and I’m very, very thankful for everyone here.”

It took everything the Bulldogs had to muster a rally after they got down 10-5 at the end of six innings. Magic happened with two outs in the top of the seventh. Concordia loaded the bases with two outs, setting the stage for a Wade Council two-run single and then a Jake Adams bullet base hit to left to bring home another. Nic Seaman followed that up by striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh. It was on.

The eighth was zany. Concordia scored three times despite only one hit in the frame. Three separate wild pitches brought home Casey Berg, Johnny May and Jason Galeano. Suddenly the Bulldogs were in a position to protect an 11-10 lead. Seaman escaped trouble in the bottom of the eighth when shortstop Logan Ryan made a fine play ranging to his left and then firing to first to put an end to a bases loaded threat.

Concordia failed to tack on in the ninth, leaving Seaman to again trot out to the mound with a one-run advantage. After the leadoff hitter grounded out, three-straight singles and then a fielder’s choice tied the game. With two outs, Jacob Jones played the role of hero for the Bluejays. He laced a single to right that chased Kyle James to the plate and sent the first base dugout into a state of euphoria.

Dejection was the emotion felt on the other side. It was the kind of game that tugged at the heartstrings of anyone with a dog in the fight on Tuesday night. Fight is exactly what the Bulldogs did – until the bitter end.

“It was a very competitive game,” Dupic said. “It is so hard to lose a game like that, and at the same time, it’s hard for me to be anything other than proud and thankful at the fight shown by every member of the team. Their ability to continue to battle through tough situations is something that I hope they will take with them forever. So many players had big hits and key plays. I’m proud of all of them.”

Things looked bleak when Tabor (43-16) began taking advantage of the consistent 20 mile-per-hour winds that blew straight out to center field at Hobart-Detter Field. Colton Flax belted a three-run homer off Concordia starter Nick Little in the fourth. In that same inning, Joel Frias greeted reliever Jake Fosgett with a two-run bomb. Then in the sixth, Braxton Byfield connected for another two-run blast.

The Bulldogs got a long ball of their own when Jason Galeano went deep over the left center field wall in the fifth. Concordia trailed 7-5 at the time in a game that was just on the verge of getting crazy.

All season, the Bulldogs took on the toughness, courage and leadership shown by Dupic, the GPAC coach of the year. On Tuesday, Concordia grinded to the finish while Tabor pounded out 22 hits. The Bulldogs countered by taking six walks and six hit-by-pitches. Christian Meza (3-for-4), Adams (2-for-5) and Berg (2-for-4) each had multiple hits for the Bulldogs.

Berg and the rest of the seniors spent several minutes after the game exchanging hugs with teammates and coaches. They leave behind a legacy in establishing a winning culture that’s built to last.

Said Dupic, “The seniors will hold a special place in Concordia history. They will forever be the first GPAC champions, the first national qualifiers and the first to win a national tournament game. Those tangible things are great accomplishments. What is an even greater accomplishment is the role they’ve played in changing the culture and making Concordia baseball a family. Those things carry on and the players that come after them are the recipients of that. I will be forever grateful for them.”

Determined seniors lead program to unforgettable season

Head coach Ryan Dupic and his staff ran through a typical offseason routine of number crunching after the 2016 campaign resulted in a fourth-place conference finish. What did the exercise reveal? The Concordia baseball program was clearly on the rise and its predicted third-place finish in the 2017 GPAC preseason coaches’ poll seemed like a realistic expectation.

Said Dupic, “At the end of our analysis, we kept coming back to about third place, where everyone kept telling us.”

Third place sounded pretty good for a program that failed to even qualify for the conference tournament three years in a row from 2013 to 2015. But trying telling that to this senior class. Back on Feb. 7, senior catcher Ryan Fesmire said it without stuttering, “Honestly, I think if you ask anybody on the team – if we finish third in the GPAC this year, we would be disappointed. We honestly believe that we can go and win GPAC.”

Fesmire’s words became prophetic. Something special happened. It happened not just because the talent within the program had become significantly upgraded. It happened because a team of unified believers came together in the pursuit of a common goal. It happened because a courageous leader of a head coach refused to ever let his own personal illness become an excuse. It happened because a group of senior position players meshed with a strong stable of freshmen pitchers.

There were so many factors involved that paved the way for the sheer joy that surfaced on May 1. Needing one more victory to share the GPAC regular-season title with Concordia, Midland dropped a 5-3 decision to Doane. Outbursts of emotions followed. Many of these emotions were translated to 140 characters or less on Twitter. Dupic wrote, “I can’t thank the players enough. You did it.”

The Bulldogs finished conference play with a 19-9 record. They rose to the top by going on a crucial seven-game winning streak late in the regular season. During that time, the Concordia pitching staff blossomed behind senior Josh Prater and a quartet of freshmen in Wade Council, Nick Little, Jason Munsch and Desmond Pineda.

Seniors were the backbone of the lineup. There was the steady Fesmire at catcher, impact transfer Jason Galeano at first, star Casey Berg at third, the imposing Christian Montero in right, dependable bat and glove man Jake Adams in center and the reliable Tyler Nelson in left. The whole truly was greater than the sum of the parts in the case of the 2017 Bulldogs.

For most outsiders, a conference championship this spring would mean the program was ahead of schedule. For Dupic, preseason meetings with players gave him a sense that his team could rise higher than its third-place projections. There were so many positives within the program that he just couldn’t measure.

“We always felt like if we didn’t do it this year we would regret it a little bit because we thought we had players that were good enough to earn that,” Dupic said. “You look at those seniors and some of those guys are really good players. For us to be able to send them out on that is truly special. It’s something those guys will be able to have with them for a long time.”

Perhaps some of the biggest crowds the Concordia baseball program has ever seen flocked to the GPAC tournament when the top-seeded Bulldogs had the honor of hosting one of two pods. If Concordia was feeling the pressure as the No. 1 seed, it didn’t show it. The Bulldogs again displayed their mettle by fending off Briar Cliff and Hastings in one-run decisions. They then advanced to the conference tournament title game by taking care of Mount Marty, 8-2, on May 6.

Three days later, a massive crowd came out to Plum Creek Park to watch Concordia and second-seeded Midland battle for the championship. While the Bulldogs suffered defeat, it did not put a damper on the excitement that had been created during a magical run. For the first time in 31 years, Concordia had won a conference title. For the first time ever, it qualified for the national tournament.

“I think it opens up the future a little in terms of creating more clout for the program,” Dupic said. “It’s always fun to be the first and see how much excitement it creates. The support that we received from people within the athletic department and people at Concordia was amazing. There were people reaching out all the time and such a genuine excitement about what was being created. That was really, really cool.”

A 19-8 loss to the Hutchinson Bracket’s top seed aside, the Bulldogs showed they could compete on the national stage. They edged fourth-seeded Jamestown (N.D.), 8-7, in the first game of the opening round. The nailbiter featured one of the season’s most memorable moments when Adams laced a bullet of a three-run homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth, giving Concordia the cushion it would end up needing. In the following day’s elimination game, the Bulldogs showed the sort of mental toughness that defined their season. They came back from a 10-5 deficit, took an 11-10 lead and then saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion at the hands of No. 13 Tabor (Kan.).

More emotions poured out. Mostly, it was a time to give thanks for an enjoyable ride. As Dupic put it, the 2017 team “gave absolutely everything it had.” The current class of seniors wouldn’t have it any other way. The four-year veterans within the program truly stuck it out through thick and thin. A 16-30 record in 2014 failed to derail them. It also failed to prevent players like Berg from transferring in. Berg batted .343 with a .439 on-base percentage and was one of the GPAC’s most consistent performers in 2017.

Dupic’s program has been blessed with not just one, but two Bergs. When surgery and radiation treatments forced Dupic to be away from the team, assistant coach Bryce Berg took on an increased role. For the way he handled it, Dupic couldn’t praise him enough. The GPAC coach of the year award is a credit to the entire staff. Says Dupic, “That is a group coaching award. Anybody who thinks otherwise knows absolutely nothing about college athletics. It is not an individual award.”

Unified all the way from the top-down, the 2017 Concordia baseball team leaves a legacy that will stand the test of time.

“We developed a real unified sense of purpose about what we were doing,” Dupic said. “Those things are so hard to measure. It truly was a situation where our guys were on the same page. Then with my health issues I think there’s a component there where it brings people together a little bit. I think you could see that, especially with the seniors. It’s funny how the Lord works. From the beginning, I kept telling them over and over and over again that there will be a day where it will feel like maybe us coaches are not as involved. That’s what happened. Coach Berg had to do two jobs. The players had to pick it up – and they did.”

GPAC champs place five on NAIA Scholar-Athlete list

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Five representatives from the 2017 GPAC regular-season champion Concordia University baseball team have netted Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete recognition, as announced by the NAIA on Wednesday (May 31). The group of Bulldog honorees from head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad includes seniors Jake Adams, Casey Hall and Aaron Hentges and juniors Taylor Bickel and Wyatt Weller. Adams was also named a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection.

In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. A total of 383 baseball student-athletes across the nation were named 2017 Scholar-Athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,284 and counting (78 total for the 2016-17 athletic year). The 2015-16 season produced a GPAC best 92 Bulldog scholar-athletes and a national best 20 NAIA Scholar-Teams. The 2014-15 season culminated with GPAC-leading totals of 94 Bulldog scholar-athletes and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams. During the 2013-14 academic year, Concordia garnered 101 Scholar-Athlete honorees (most in the NAIA) and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams (tied for fourth nationally).

2017 Baseball Scholar-Athletes

Jake Adams, Sr. | Mason City, Iowa | Business Administration
Taylor Bickel, Jr. | Surprise, Ariz. | Psychology
Casey Hall, Sr. | Mason City, Iowa | Fitness Studies
Aaron Hentges, Sr. | Concordia, Mo. | Secondary Education
Wyatt Weller, Jr. | Bennington, Neb. | Business Administration/Criminal Justice

GPAC champs rewarded with seven All-Nebraska selections

Omaha World-Herald story

SEWARD, Neb. – A GPAC championship season helped the Concordia University baseball team land a total of seven players on the All-Nebraska baseball squad, as chosen by the Omaha World-Herald(announced on June 17). Under the leadership of head coach Ryan Dupic, the Bulldogs won a school record 34 games and advanced to the national tournament for the first time in program history.

Representing the Bulldogs on the All-Nebraska team were seniors Casey Berg and Jason Galeano and freshman Jason Munsch. Honorable mention went to seniors Christian Montero and Josh Prater and freshmen Desmond Pineda and Josh Prater.

Berg, a force at the top of the lineup, vaulted to the All-GPAC first team in 2017. Berg became one of the conference’s most productive offensive players this season, batting .343 with an on-base percentage of .439 and slugging percentage of .529. The native of Carroll, Iowa, also recorded 16 doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 35 RBIs, 30 walks and 11 stolen bases. Berg is now the school record holder at bats (210), runs (57), hits (72) and total bases (111). He ranked among the top 10 players in the GPAC in runs scored, slugging percentage, hits, doubles, home runs, total bases and stolen bases.

First team All-GPAC pick Jason Galeano (Brooklyn, N.Y.) made a significant impact in what was his only season as a Bulldog after transferring from NCAA Division II Illinois-Springfield. While serving as both a designated hitter and first baseman, Galeano hit .310 with seven home runs and 42 RBIs. He posted an on-base percentage of .398 and slugging percentage of .465. His 62 hits ranked second on the team behind only Berg. Galeano did not commit an error in 166 chances in the field.

Jason Munsch (Campbell, Calif.), the team’s third first team all-conference choice, shined as one of the most difficult pitchers in the GPAC to hit. He limited opponents to a .193 batting average and boasted a 3.07 ERA over 45.2 innings. He topped the team leader with 64 strikeouts (10.3 strikeouts/nine innings) and finished with a record of 5-1. He made 11 starts, including the first game of the national tournament, and allowed just 38 hits. He tossed a seven-inning, one-hit shutout against Morningside on April 2.

A first team all-conference choice in 2016 and a second team selection in 2017, Christian Montero (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), Montero hit .289 with five home runs and 27 RBIs. He notched a .395 on-base percentage and .469 slugging percentage. He led the team with 12 stolen bases in 14 attempts. His 20 doubles broke a program single-season record. His biggest power surge came on April 8 when he drilled three home runs in a doubleheader sweep at Doane.

No GPAC reliever was more valuable than Desmond Pineda, a second team all-conference pick. In his 18 appearances (two starts), he covered 42.1 innings and recorded a stellar 2.76 ERA. He allowed 35 hits and 17 walks to go up against 41 strikeouts. Pineda was also been credited with five saves and four victories. His longest outing was a seven-inning relief appearance when he surrendered just one run and struck out eight in the 13-inning game against Dordt.

Senior Josh Prater moved up from honorable mention accolades in 2016 to second team in 2017. The lefty from Colorado Springs, Colo., took the ball 11 times, working 63 innings and pitching to a 2.57 ERA. He recorded 54 strikeouts while allowing 65 hits and 20 walks. He tossed three complete games, including one shutout. In 177.2 career innings as a Bulldog, Prater sported a 13-8 record and 3.85 ERA. An impact two-way player, Council went 6-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 51.2 innings as a pitcher and batted .283 with a pair of home runs at the plate. He also drove in 26 runs.

2017 Small College All-Nebraska Baseball Team

C, Billy Damon, York, .298
C, Jake Browne, Bellevue, .324
1B, Todd Nicks, Bellevue, .358
2B, Miles Campbell, Bellevue, .341
3B, Matt Evans, Bellevue, .364
SS, Tommy Anderson, Doane, .373
UT, Casey Berg, Concordia, .343
DH, Jason Galeano, Concordia, .310
OF, Cole Gray, Midland, .411
OF, * Derik Bontempo, Bellevue, .436
OF, Billy Johnson, York, .384
OF, Kevin Clausen, Doane, .358
P, Todd Nicks, Bellevue, 10-3
P, Jason Munsch, Concordia, 5-1
P, Ben McKendall, Bellevue, 9-1
P, Andrew Kuta, Hastings, 10-3
P, Alberto Rosario, Peru State, 6-2
RP, Alex Bee, Midland, 7 saves

* — denotes honorary captain

Honorable mention: Riley Baasch, Colten Barnes, Joe Moran, Zach Wilson, Bellevue; Wade Council, Josh Prater, Desmond Pineda, Christian Montero, Concordia; Caleb Goedeken, Jacob Trujillo, Eduardo Yanez, Doane; Will Frei, Ty O’Brien, Reed Stone, Brandon Utrup, Hastings; Tanner Bos, Rob Cummins, Torrey Escamilla, Kiefer Musiel, Midland; Jesse Maguire, Brody Murphy, Nebraska Wesleyan; Bryan Ventura Castro, Edwin Muniz, Peru State; Isaiah Bond, Nick Carney, Connor Towle, York

No excuses: Concordia baseball's magical 2017 season

May 1, 2017, will always be remembered as a joyous day in the history of Concordia baseball. A Midland loss to Doane meant that the Bulldogs had captured the GPAC regular-season title – and it was theirs alone. Not since 1986 had Concordia baseball celebrated a conference championship. Back then, head coach Reuben Stohs’ squad competed in the old Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The end of a 31-year drought and the program’s first-ever trip to the national tournament provided plenty of reason for the emotional outbursts that were translated by many players to 140 characters or less on social media. But there is a whole lot more. This is a story about a transcendent team that overcame not just history, but unforeseen challenges that could have ripped it apart. Says head coach Ryan Dupic, “This story was about multiple people coming together. That’s what it takes. We had so much help along the way.”

There may end up being more successful years for the Concordia baseball program, but there will never be another quite like 2017. Said senior pitcher Josh Prater, “I keep telling people that we could have a movie just about this.”

There will be no excuses

This movie gets started with a somber opening scene. Dupic had been looking forward to his third season leading the Bulldogs, but on this particular day, the players watched their head coach break down right before their eyes. A not-so-typical preseason meeting had been called. Dupic informed his players that he had been diagnosed with a form of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. It would force him to be away from the team for most of the month of January and for many practices and some games throughout the season.

“It was the first time that I cried about it,” Dupic said. “It hadn’t really hit me until I stood in front of them and realized that I wouldn’t be able to be with them every day. I like to be with my players every day.”

The timing seemed just as unfair as the circumstances themselves. Not only was a new season on the horizon, but Ryan and his wife Abby had just welcomed their first born, son Cole, into their family. For a while, Ryan tried to forget and ignore the growth on his tongue. Pretty soon he just couldn’t do that any longer. He sought help. At first he was told by medical personnel that “it’s nothing.” At a doctor’s advice, he applied cream to his tongue two-to-three times per day for more than a month.

It got worse. Says Ryan, “It just kept bothering me. Finally I said, ‘We need to figure something out here because it’s just really bothering me.’ It was affecting the way I was eating. I went to a specialist and they did another biopsy. That’s when we found it was cancerous (in December 2016). When I went back the second time, I felt like something’s going on here. This probably isn’t going to be very good. We kind of looked into it already and I had that gut feeling that this wasn’t going to end up very well.”

In the middle of January, Dupic underwent a surgical operation that removed half of his tongue, negatively affecting his ability to eat and speak. A muscle removed from his thigh was attached to his tongue as part of the procedure. This was just the beginning. He would spend significant time in the hospital before returning to campus and to the team. Even then, there were plenty of struggles to come in the immediate future.

“It was challenging to see that happen to a close friend and a mentor,” said assistant coach Bryce Berg. “I just really wanted to be there to help any way that I could. I remember how tough it was for him to stand in front of our guys and talk about it.”

While addressing his team in that teary-eyed preseason meeting, Dupic spoke with conviction when he told them “there will be no excuses through this process.” Dupic reasoned that the game of baseball would not give them more runs or outs because of his cancer.

Says Ryan, “I don’t know why, but I’ve never really thought about it in terms of why this happened. I just felt like this is what happened and you have to move forward because there’s stuff to be done. That’s how we did it.”

Selling a vision

Dupic has attacked cancer with the same zest and zeal that he used to breathe life into a baseball program that won a total of 28 games during the 1990s and had won only two postseason games in the GPAC era (2000-present). What Dupic would succeed at was selling potential recruits on looking not at the past, but the present and the future. Hired prior to the 2015 season, the former Buena Vista University assistant coach wanted to put his stamp on a winning culture.

What he did have to sell was a clean slate, a fresh start with a new coaching staff and the opportunity for immediate playing time. Especially in regards to pitching, Dupic was sending out an all-points bulletin.

One of many quality players to take the bait, North Iowa Area Community College transfer Jake Adams was part of the Iowa junior college migration to Seward. Said Adams, “I knew Coach Dupic when he was at BV and he’s a great guy. Knowing him and knowing what he’s about made it a lot easier to come here. He sold us on a vision, which is a tough thing for some of us. You get sold on a vision and you think about, ‘all right, let’s make it happen.’”

Adams helped bolster the outfield while a host of additional transfers were brought in to quickly improve the lineup. Such new arrivals included Casey Berg (North Iowa Area CC), the brother of Bryce, Jason Galeano (Illinois-Springfield) and Christian Montero (Iowa Central CC). They have been partly responsible for two of the greatest offensive seasons in program history over the past two years.

The pitching staff underwent a major overhaul, especially between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Dupic and his staff hit it big on the recruiting trail, landing rookie hurlers Wade Council, Jake Fosgett, Nick Little, Jason Munsch and Desmond Pineda. Each of them would play a considerable role in the GPAC championship season that came together this spring.

Recalls Dupic, “We didn’t have enough pitching. At first we joked that if you have a pulse and you can throw, we want to recruit you. We needed to get absolutely and positively as many arms as we could. I’ve always detested walking into a baseball game feeling like I’m trying to survive it.”

The freshman group of pitchers vastly exceeded Dupic’s expectations. Dupic trusted them so much that they started many of the season’s most significant games. Little got the ball for the season opener at Bethany College. Council threw a shutout at Dakota Wesleyan that clinched at least a share of the conference title. Munsch then got the nod for the team’s first-ever game at the national tournament.

What impressed the coaches was how graciously the upperclassmen welcomed the freshmen. Egos were tossed aside in favor of whatever best served the greater good.

“In the two years that I’ve been here you can see the shift in culture,” Bryce Berg said. “We’ve been able to find good people that are invested in the program and invested in one another. We had a group of guys that really got along with each other and were excited to be around each other. Some places you go you see a divide between the seniors and freshmen. Our seniors did a really good job of welcoming those guys and encouraging them to take on bigger roles.”

As one of the team’s most high profile players, Casey Berg had the ability to be a positive or negative influence in the dugout. More important than his production at the top of the lineup, Casey Berg symbolized a changing culture. He bought in because he believed in the vision. “(Coach Dupic) just convinced me (to come). He’s a great guy and a great coach. I trusted him. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

The struggle

Rick Dupic, the father of Ryan, slammed the brakes mid-sentence of a phone conversation. The emotions are still pretty raw. Rick lived in Seward throughout the baseball season, serving as an assistant coach and a virtual personal assistant for his son. Rick knows as well as anyone the struggles that Ryan has endured. Baseball provided an avenue for escape, but there was no way to truly get away from the illness.

“He was able to coach and really concentrate on something he loves,” Rick said. “That was a really big thing. On second thought, it was a real strain for him. There were times during the season and games that he was really, really hurting – and it was tough to watch that as a father.”

There were obvious visual examples of the toll that cancer took on Ryan throughout the season. He lost an incredible amount of weight and there were times when you could see the burden in his eyes and in his face. Six-and-a-half weeks of driving back-and-forth with his father from Omaha for radiation will do that to you.

In late March, Casey Berg spoke candidly about the situation from the perspective of the players. Said Casey, “It’s hard to even talk to him because it just looks like it’s painful to talk to him. It’s rough. It’s been kind of emotional for everybody. It really affects us when he’s not there. Our team this year has a good culture that can handle that. We have a great group of seniors that can lead the team when he’s not there. It’s been tough for sure.”

By season’s end, many people were aware of the fact that Ryan had cancer. What some may not have known was that his newborn son faced hardships of his own. As Ryan explains it, the shape of young Cole’s head became abnormally enlarged to the point he needed surgery. Think of the psyche of Ryan’s wife Abby at the time. On one hand, Ryan’s energy is being sapped by radiation treatments. On the other, little Cole is in need of a type of surgery that cannot be performed just anywhere.

“It’s something you get very nervous about,” Ryan said. “We sought out some options. My wife really took the lead on it. We ended up taking him down to Texas for a surgery to be able to get his head shaped the correct way. He has to wear a helmet now. That was a very busy time for us. Thankfully, my wife’s parents were able to go down with her and support her during that time. I couldn’t travel because I had radiation. He’s doing very well now and he’s a real joy for us.”

The players were constantly thinking and praying about their coach. It seemed that each win down the stretch produced more emotion and carried a greater sense of purpose as being something more than just another victory.

Finding joy and establishing some sense of normalcy were ways that Ryan, his family, his coaching staff and his players bonded through “the struggle.” Ryan already had the respect of his team, but that respect grew tenfold throughout a magical 2017 ride.

“It’s awesome the way he’s led this team in spite of what he’s been experiencing,” Josh Prater said. “Our team has come together and has bonded. How we’ve handled ourselves, I think, has been an incredible story. It’s something I’ll carry with me the rest of my life. It’s something that has made the experience all the richer considering his condition.”

Forever thankful

Cancer has made Ryan Dupic thankful. Seriously. He’s actually spent time throughout this process worrying about not being able to thank certain people enough. When the season ended and it was time for father Rick and mother Carol to head back home to northwest Iowa, Ryan felt a sense of guilt. How do I possibly express my thanks for what they have sacrificed for me?

Says Ryan, “It’s amazing how people can do things for you, but they don’t really see it as a big deal because they love you. That’s really special.”

Rick doesn’t believe his son should feel any guilt at all. Rick up and moved to Seward, cared for Ryan and helped coach the Bulldogs. “It was a full-time job, but it was a job I was ready to accept because that’s who we are in our family,” Rick said. “We help each other.”

The thanks go on and on. Ryan calls the support of wife Abby “amazing.” As the GPAC coach of the year, Ryan refers to the coaching accolade as a “staff award.” One of the unsung heroes of this whole season was Bryce Berg, who at 24 years of age, willingly took on a much advanced role within the program. There were times when Bryce neglected his own wife, Nicole, to serve Ryan, the program and the players. Says Dupic, “I don’t think enough can be said about what he did. There’s no way to say the right words about the role he’s had in this program. And I don’t think I could say enough about his wife Nicole.”

Ryan’s thankfulness extends to Concordia administrators and the university as a whole. Ryan won’t forget how Associate Athletic Director Angela Muller accompanied him on a flight to Tucson so he wouldn’t miss the team’s games that weekend. Ryan finds himself at a place that will jump through hoops – whatever it takes to support him.

Thinking back to the summer of 2014, Ryan had not been actively seeking to leave Buena Vista. Concordia Director of Athletics Devin Smith pursued Ryan, who was pushed by his wife to at least consider the opportunity. There were warm and fuzzies that resulted from a visit and on-campus interview. Said Ryan, “I just felt like this was a place where you could win and there were a lot of good people here.”

How soon would the winning come? Ryan never made any promises. At some point, the 2017 team had to prove it could win games against quality programs if it was to accomplish the types of goals it had in mind. Those goals were considerable. A four-year senior who stuck it out through thick and thin, catcher Ryan Fesmire made it clear before the season began. Said Fesmire back in February, “Honestly, I think if you ask anybody on the team – if we finish third in the GPAC this year, we would be disappointed. We honestly believe that we can go and win GPAC.”

Concordia proved a lot by beating Jamestown in Tucson (then again at the national tournament) and got hot, going on a stretch during which it won 22 of 28 games against conference opponents. Based on talent, league coaches pegged the Bulldogs to place third in the GPAC. What the 2017 team had were positive qualities beyond measure.

Says Rick Dupic, “All these people are working together not just for the best for Ryan, but for the program. It goes to show that when you have this many people working together on a common goal, anything is possible. The one thing I’ll take away from this season is the incredible amount of relationships that I encountered with the parents and administration and the coaches and players.”

When the season finally ended at the national tournament, Ryan was once again thankful. “For our guys to stay patient and continue to pursue their goals here is something I’ll be forever thankful for.”

The road ahead

Trust in God, in family and in his players has allowed Ryan Dupic to take cancer on with ferocity. At the national tournament, Ryan, several weeks removed from radiation and nourished by a feeding tube, showed renewed energy. He even came sprinting out of the dugout to discuss a call with the home plate umpire.

Ryan has become comfortable speaking about his situation and the way he talks makes you believe he’s turned a corner and that a normal life is waiting for him just around that corner.

“At this point in time, the next challenge for me is to learn to eat and drink again on my own through my mouth. I haven’t been able to get to that point yet,” Dupic said shortly after the season ended. “I lost a ton of weight and all my food goes through my feeding tube now. Learning how to eat again and being able to speak a little bit better – maybe through some speech therapy – are the next steps. I can’t taste anything yet. That will hopefully be another phase that will come back. It seems like I’m in good shape in terms of moving forward and being healthy. I’m very blessed and thankful for that. It’s just a matter of trying to get that normal lifestyle back.”

Days after the season ended, Ryan had already returned to the office. Of course he’s taking care of himself, but he won’t permit recruiting to get away from him. He’s ready for the next hurdle and the next adventure with his 2018 team. God willing, the 2017-18 Bulldogs will get more of Ryan’s care and attention.

Seniors like Casey Berg left the program in better shape than they found it. Now they’re predicting that the best is yet to come.

Says Casey, “It’s been a really fun ride. It’s been really cool to see how the culture has changed so much since I’ve gotten here. The culture change from my sophomore year to now is incredible and it’s just going to keep growing. What Coach Dupic’s doing is fantastic and it’s just going to get way better. It was a great year and the years to come are going to be even better.”

For now, the 2017 team has ownership of a new standard by which future Concordia baseball teams will be measured. A GPAC championship season was made possible by the courage and toughness of a head coach that refused to take pity or to make excuses. For so many reasons, the 2017 Concordia baseball team has reserved a special place in Ryan’s heart.