A Perfect Pitching Prescription
MOORHEAD, Minn. (4/22/14)—Ross Merriman and Kyle Connelly were the prescription for Concordia's playoff-race symptoms as they earned complete-game victories in the Cobbers sweep over Gustavus.
Merriman allowed just two earned runs on six hits in a 3-2 win in the first game and then Connelly blanked the Gusties in the second game en route to a 10-0 victory. The two key conference wins push the Cobbers MIAC record to the .500 level at 7-7. CC is now just one game out of the fourth, and final, playoff spot. Concordia is has now won three straight games and moves to 15-12 overall. Gustavus has now lost 10 straight MIAC games and falls to 6-19 overall and 2-14 in conference play.
Merriman stumbled in the early part of the first game as he gave up single runs in the second and third innings. He then righted the ship at the end of the third, got out of a second and third jam with only one out and proceeded to retire 14 of the final 16 batters he faced. Merriman set down the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings to record his second consecutive win. He has pitched over 14 innings in his last two outings, given up only four earned runs and dropped his season ERA almost four full points.
Connelly "one-upped" Merriman by only allowing a pair of Gustavus hits in recording his first collegiate shutout. It was also the first shutout thrown by any CC pitcher this season. Like Merriman, Connelly has won his last two starts and has given up only two runs in the past 12.2 innings of work. He know has a 4.30 ERA for the season which is the third lowest by a starting pitcher.
The offensive star in game No.1 was shortstop Phil Kuball. Kuball drove in all three Cobber runs and was 2-for-3 at the plate. He led the CC seven-hit attack as Concordia scored a pair of runs in the third inning to tie the game at 2-2 and then won the opener with a single run in the fifth when Kuball singled up the middle to score Zach Hinkemeyer from second base.
Concordia jumped on the Gusties right away in the second game. The Cobbers scored four times in the first and then added one more in the second. CC had six hits in the first two frames and all six were singles that found open spaces between infielders and open grass in front of outfielders.
Concordia finished with 14 hits in the second game. It marked the second time in the past three games that the Cobbers have recorded at least 12 hits in a game. CC had five different players collect multiple-hit games.
Senior designated hitter Jordan Gefroh was 3-for-4, drove in three runs and scored three runs. His biggest hit came in the fifth inning when he connected on his team-leading third home run of the season. Gefroh, who only had 11 at-bats in his career before this season, is now hitting a team best .418 and has hit safely in 20 of the past 22 games he has played in.
Kuball capped off his stellar day at the plate by going 2-for-4 in the second game and scoring two more runs. He went 4-for-7 against Gustavus and is now hitting .321.
Braden Rahman, Jordan Domine and Nick Bornhauser also had two-hit games for Concordia. Rahman went 2-for-4 with a runs scored and an RBI. Domine was 2-for-3 with a single run and RBI while Bornhauser went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI.
The Cobbers will look to extend their three-game winning streak when they play at St. Mary's on Saturday, Apr. 26 at 1 p.m.