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Eric Peterson, Published April 18 2012

Concordia splits doubleheader with Gustavus

MOORHEAD – Concordia missed an opportunity to improve its precarious postseason position Wednesday at the Jake Christiansen athletic complex.

The Cobbers split a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader against Gustavus. Concordia earned an 11-1 victory in the first game, but suffered a 5-3 defeat in Game 2.

“We felt like we really needed to get a sweep today to get back in there,” said Cobbers head coach Bucky Burgau.

“A doubleheader is tough to play. It’s hard to keep your concentration level up over the course of 14 innings sometimes.”

Concordia (13-14, 5-7) is in sixth place in the MIAC with eight conference games remaining. The top four teams in the league make the MIAC playoffs.

The Cobbers are two games behind Augsburg and Macalester, the two teams tied for fourth place in the MIAC.

“We can’t afford to drop anymore games,” said Cobbers sophomore pitcher Jackson Meland. “We’re still giving ourselves a chance. We’ve split a couple series we should have taken two from.”

Meland helped Concordia cruise to victory in the first game, pitching six solid innings to earn the victory. The left-hander scattered six hits and walked none, allowing one earned run.

The Cobbers erupted for six runs in the fifth inning to seize control in the first game. Shortstop Braden Rahman sparked that big inning with a two-run home run to right field.

The clutch hits weren’t there for the Cobbers in Game 2. Concordia left 12 runners on base in the nightcap, including two in the final inning.

“We’ve had times like this before where we just tend to leave a few extra runners on base,” Rahman said. “That happens sometimes. It was just one of those games I guess.”

Gustavus never trailed in the nightcap, taking a 2-0 lead after first baseman Drew Block hit a two-run homer in the first inning.

The Cobbers left runners on base in six of the seven innings in Game 2.

“We’ve been kind of like that all year long,” Burgau said. “If we have lost it’s because we have left a lot of guys on base. It’s not because of lack of trying. … I can’t fault the effort of the guys.”

Burgau said his team will likely need to win seven of its last eight conference games to make a strong bid for the MIAC playoffs.

The Cobbers have six of those eight league games at home. Three of those doubleheaders are against teams ahead of them in the standings. That includes an April 30 home doubleheader against league-leading St. Thomas, which is 12-0 in the MIAC.

“It leaves us no margin for error, but still I like our baseball team. I think we have a good baseball team,” Burgau said. “Rome wasn’t built overnight. This is kind of a mix of an upper-class group and an underclass group and we’re still working to mesh the gears. Hopefully, we can do that yet this year.”

Gustavus 000 100 0– 1 6 0

Concordia 021 062 x–11 13 0

Meland, Gilson (7) and Lindberg. Kelly, Norris (5), Strelow (6), Fidler (6) and Tranvik. W–Meland (4-2). L–Kelly (1-3). HR–G, Block (1). CC, Rahman (3).

Gustavus 202 000 1– 5 10 3

Concordia 010 010 1– 3 10 0

Peymann and Tranvik. Wendorf, Kramer (4), Feia (6) and Lindberg. W–Peymann (1-1). L–Wendorf (2-1). HR–G, Block (2).

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com