Courtesy of Concordia University Chicago
DULUTH, Minn. -- After this morning's loss to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the Concordia-Chicago Cougars suddenly found themselves in a position similar to that at last weekend's conference tournament. The Cougars would be forced to win three straight games, beginning with this evening's elimination game against the University of Dubuque.
The Cougars' hitting had been pretty solid throughout the first three games, but a boost from the pitching would come in handy. Enter senior Adam Schmitt, who pitched arguably the finest game of his career with seven shutout innings as CUC ousted Dubuque with a 6-3 victory at Frank Wade Municipal Stadium in Duluth, MN.
Both teams threatened to score in the first, but a double play ended the threat in each team's case. The Cougars did break through in the top of the second, however, as Jacob Frank drew a one-out walk. Connor Brandon was next, and he ripped the first pitch he saw down the line past the diving third baseman. The ball hit off the side wall and caromed back slightly toward the infield, but CUC head coach Mike Stawski kept waving Frank around, and he beat the throw to the plate to make it 1-0. The Cougars doubled their lead moments later as Jose Mercado's sacrifice fly tallied Brandon.
The two-run lead was looking good as Schmitt settled down after the double play in the first to set down the side in order over the next three innings. The Cougars then extended the lead to 4-0 in the fifth when Mercado singled with one out, raising his batting average in the regional to .750 (12-16). Bryan VanDuser followed with a single to right, and both runners moved up on Joe Silva's grounder to the right side. Mitch Wilson then came up with a big hit from the clean-up spot, a ground single to right that plated Mercado and VanDuser.
Concordia-Chicago looked to put the game away in the eighth. Brady Roberts led off with a deep fly to left that carried over the wall for CUC's first homer of the weekend. One out later, Frank's fly to center just came up short of a second homer, but he settled for a double. Brandon then reached on an infield hit as Frank just made it into the third. Keegan Tyrell then executed the squeeze perfectly as Frank crossed the plate for a 6-0 lead.
Those two runs would prove crucial as the Spartans finally solved Schmitt in the bottom of the inning. A single, double and another single scored one run and brought a mound visit from Coach Stawski, Whatever was said worked because Schmitt came back to get the next three hitters, a sacrifice fly producing the only other tally as CUC led 6-2 going to the ninth,
The Spartans made one last charge as Justin Jensen led off with a homer. Thomas Kempf then hit the next pitch for a single, bringing an end to Schmitt's night. Alex Meyers was up to the task, however. Meyers battled Tyler Lewan through a lengthy at-bat before winning it for a 6-4-3 double play. Meyers then struck out the final batter to send the Cougars through and put an end to the Spartans; season.
The Cougars are now in the championship round where they face the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The first game on Sunday is at 12 noon. If CUC wins, the second and deciding game will take place 30 minutes afterward (approximately 3:30).