A 144-mile trip has turned into a historic road for the Concordia baseball team.
Outfielder/pitcher Wade Council and the Bulldogs (21-12) sat in the stands at the Tyson Event Center in Sioux City, Iowa, after fifth-year head coach Ryan Dupic gave his team an off day to watch the Concordia women's basketball team capture the NAIA national championship on March 12.
The baseball team was frustrated, returning home after 16 games with a 7-9 record in early March.
“We just saw how well the players led that team,” Council said of the women's basketball team. “We saw how they owned everything and then they just put their skills on top of that. It all just kind of came together and (they) were head-and-shoulders better.”
Then the wins started coming in bunches after the baseball team's return home.
Concordia had its best start in school history in GPAC play with 15 consecutive wins before a doubleheader split with Midland on Tuesday ended the streak.
“After Tucson (Concordia played 12 games in Arizona from March 2-9), it was kind of hard to realize we were playing a tougher schedule,” Council said. “It was frustrating not playing our best down there, but after some reflection and debriefing throughout the team, we realized we played a pretty tough (NAIA) Division-II heavy schedule.”
Pitching and timely hitting has been there at almost every turn for the Bulldogs down the road.
The four-man rotation has been as solid as almost any in the country. Before the doubleheader against Midland, Dupic used just one reliever in a six-game stretch. Over 33 games, the pitching staff ranks first in the GPAC in overall opponent batting average (.248) and earned-run average (4.18). Against conference opponents, the ERA is even more impressive at 1.61.
“Our guys have found a nice balance of being focused and really having fun,” Dupic said. “Just enjoying what they are doing, and it's sent a positive vibe for our team as we've gone through the season.
“Anytime you get into conference play, you are going to have some ebb and flow, but they've stayed pretty even-keel. “
During his past four starts, junior Jake Fosgett (5-1) has four consecutive complete-game wins and recorded 40 strikeouts in a span of 28 innings. The junior ranks third in the GPAC in strikeouts per game with an eye-popping 13.5.
Flip to the offensive side.
Council, the Bulldogs' leadoff hitter, is pretty confident he is going to score when Christian Meza steps into the box.
“I'm definitely more confident (when Meza is batting),” Council said. “He is good, man. We are in a pretty good spot when he is on, and there are not many times he is off.”
Meza currently holds the top spot in program history in career doubles (47) and is tied for second in hits (192) and third in RBIs (131). The record for most hits in a career stands at 234, set by Zach Goodrich from 2009-12.
Concordia will continue its trek in hopes of the most wins in the GPAC conference in a single season. Doane holds that mark after a 20-0 record in 2014, but the league has since expanded to a 28-game conference schedule.
On Saturday, Concordia took down Jamestown 3-2 in Game 1 of a doubleheader, losing 6-5 in a marathon second game that went 14 innings.
Friday's scheduled contest against Morningside was postponed to Monday in Seward.