WINONA, Minn. (4/27/17)---It's now a two-game race to the playoffs. Concordia split its final conference road doubleheader at St. Mary's and remains locked in a tie for the fourth, and final, MIAC playoff spot.
The Cobbers lost a 6-5 one-run decision to the Cardinals in Game 1 but then used a 13-hit attack to win 14-2 in seven innings in the finale.
Concordia is now 11-7 in league play and 22-14 overall. The Cobbers are tied with Macalester with identical 11-7 and 22-14 records and both teams play St. John's in their final MIAC doubleheader of the year.
The third inning proved to be the pivotal frame in the opener. Concordia struck for three runs in the top half to take a 3-0 lead but then St. Mary's countered with four in the bottom to leapfrog to a 4-3 lead. The one-run advantage would hold up through the final four innings. Both teams tacked on two runs in the final stretch of the game but CC couldn't overcome the one run deficit in the third.
Austin Ver Steeg, Jake Stilwell and Alec Sames had the RBI for the Cobbers in the third inning as CC scored three runs on four hits and were helped by one SMU error.
Ver Steeg would score the team's fourth run in the sixth when he singled and then got home on a Cardinal miscue. He would then drive in the fifth run in the seventh when he singled home Cody Rahman.
Concordia had runners on first and second with two outs after Ver Steeg's RBI single but was unable to score the game-tying run.
The Cobbers had 11 hits in the first game. Nate Leintz and Ver Steeg both went 3-for-4 while Stilwell added two hits.
Fletcher Andel started on the hill for Concordia. He went 4.0 innings and allowed all six runs on nine hits. Adam Nibaur finished off the game by going 2.0 innings and allowing only one hit.
It was three big innings for the Cobbers that helped them gain the split. CC scored five times in both the third and seventh innings and tacked on four in the sixth. Concordia had eight of their nine starting players get at least one hit as they put up 13 base knocks.
Stilwell led all players with three hits. Sames, Leintz and Chad Johnson all added two-hit games. Leintz and Johnson had the biggest of the nightcap. Leintz had a three-run double in the seventh while Johnson added a solo home run in the third and then a one-run double in the sixth.
A trio of pitchers combined for the win in the second game. Alex Erickson went the first 4.0 innings and allowed the two earned runs on three hits and struck out three. Rahman relieved Erickson in the fifth and pitched two scoreless innings to earn his first win of the season and third of his career. Joe Hallock then finished off the win by retiring three of the four batters he faced in the seventh inning.
THAT'S A LONG TIME: Cobber senior pitcher Cody Rahman won two games at the start of his freshman season and then had to wait 173 games before his next win. Rahman sat out the 2014 season due to an injury. He didn't pitch an inning in 2015 and 2016.
DOUBLE-DIGIT DELIVERY: Concordia had double-digit hit totals in both games against the Cardinals. It's the first time all season that CC has had at least 10 hits in a conference double dip. The Cobbers have had at least 10 hits in 14 games this year and they are 10-4 in those games.
MULTI-HIT LEINTZ: Nate Leintz went 5-for-8 in the two games in Winona and had multiple-hit games in both contests. Leintz has 11 multiple-hit games this year which is tied for the team lead.
JAKE THE SNAKE: Sophomore Jake Stilwell earned his first start at second base in the Cobbers' weekend opener at Gustavus on Friday. He started all four games on the road trip and went 6-for-14 (.428) at the plate.
POWER, POWER, POWER: Chad Johnson has 19 hits this year and 13 are extra-base hits. He leads the team in home runs (4) and slugging percentage (.433). Johnson has 29 extra base hits in the past two seasons.
WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will host its final non-conference game of the year on Tuesday, May 2 when they square off against Mayville State at 3 p.m. The Cobbers will then host St. John's in the "playoff before the playoff" on Saturday, May 6 at 1 p.m. The Johnnies are 11-5 in the conference and will host Macalester on Monday.