Perfect Day Leads To Playoff Berth
MOORHEAD, Minn. (5/09/13)—It was pretty much a perfect day for Concordia. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, head coach Bucky Burgau was honored for his 400th career conference win before the game, the Cobbers used timely hitting and good pitching during their games to sweep St. Mary's and finally CC was rewarded for their season-long perseverance by earning the No.2 seed in the conference tournament.
By virtue of their 10-5, 5-4 wins over St. Mary's on Thursday, Concordia catapults to 11-9 in the final conference standings and the No.2 seed in the upcoming six-team conference tournament. That means the Cobbers will earn a bye in the first round on Friday and play in one of the two semifinals on Saturday. It will be the first day off for CC since Sunday when they embarked on their four-doubleheader, four-day trek to the postseason.
"We wanted so badly to get into the postseason," said Burgau. "I was so hoping the team would and they came through with a good tough week of baseball."
The tie for second place in the final league standings is the highest finish for Concordia since the 2010 season when they also tied for second place.
The sweep over the Cardinals was spurred on by a pair of big-run innings. Concordia scored six times in the third inning to break the first game open and then had a three-run fifth inning in the finale.
The two biggest blows in the big innings were turned by a pair of Cobber freshmen. Catcher Tim Carlson had a three-run homer to center field in game 1 and then Devin Johnson went "yard" for a two-run shot over the right field fence in game 2.
"The freshman are a big part of this team," commented Burgau. "There's a couple reasons: first of all they're really good players and there is a bunch of them (freshman) too. Secondly, they have really pushed the upperclassmen, and have pushed other guys, and that has made those kids play better."
Carlson went 2-for-3 with five RBI in the opener and Johnson was 3-for-5 in both games and had four runs scored and three RBI.
Concordia had 11 hits in the opener and then added 10 more in the second game. The Cobbers had eight of its nine batters both games record at least one hit. Kyle Kraemer was a combined 3-for-8 and had a run scored and an RBI. Michael Olson was 3-for-6 and had two runs scored and three RBI.
For the fourth straight game the Cobbers got quality innings from their starting pitcher. Jackson Meland, the team's No.1 started, pitched a complete game in the opener. He saved the bullpen by gutting through the final innings of play. He held St. Mary's to just three hits in the first four innings and did not allow a runner past second base in the first four frames. He wound up earning his third win of the year.
The second game was all senior starter Luke Kramer. Who worked out of several jams and pitched the first 6.0 innings to earn his first win of the year. His biggest escape of the game came in the fifth inning when SMU loaded the bases with no outs before Kramer induced a 1-2-3 double play and then got a fly out to right field to end the inning.
"Having a lot of confidence in your defense," replied Kramer as to what helped him get out of the different jams in the game. "Knowing that your outfielders have that much range and knowing that all your defenders are that good makes it easy to pitch.
Bryce Feia recorded the final three outs to pick up his sixth save of the season.
Concordia will now advance to the MIAC playoffs for the sixth time in school history. The Cobbers are making their third conference tournament appearance since 2005. CC will play the winner of the Augsburg/St. Mary's quarterfinal game in the second semifinal on Saturday, May 11 at 6 p.m. at Veterans Field in Minnetonka.