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.