Saying Goodbye To Chicago

Junior Austin Ver Steeg held No.2-ranked Concordia-Chicago to two earned runs in 6.0 innings in the Cobbers' final game in Illinois.
Junior Austin Ver Steeg held No.2-ranked Concordia-Chicago to two earned runs in 6.0 innings in the Cobbers' final game in Illinois.

STORY LINE: Concordia finished up the Wheaton (Ill.) Invitational by losing to a pair of local Chicago teams. The Cobbers lost 8-2 to host Wheaton on Friday and then dropped a 4-3 decision to No.2-ranked Concordia-Chicago on Saturday. The eighth inning proved to be critical in both games as the Cobbers allowed three runs to Wheaton and then a pair of runs to Chicago.

RECORDS: The two losses drop Concordia's record to 6-8 on the season as they head back home to start the Minnesota portion of their schedule. Wheaton earned a victory in their home opener and is now 9-2 on the season. Chicago continues their early-season hot streak as they win their ninth straight game and move to 10-1 on the year. The Cougars are currently ranked in the Top 5 of the nation in two different national rankings. Chicago went to the Division III World Series last year after winning the Midwest Regional.

WHEATON RECAP:  Concordia trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth when Wheaton scored two runs and then added three more scores in the eighth inning. The Cobbers scored single runs in the second and fifth frames. Jake McKeever singled up the middle to score Concordia's run in the second and then Sean McGuire's double to left-center field was responsible for the Cobbers' score in the fifth. Concordia had six hits in the game and was led by McKeever and McGuire who both went 2-for-4. Cole Christensen went the first 5.0 innings on the mound for CC and allowed five earned runs while striking out four. Ty Syverson finished off the final 3.0 frames.

CONCORDIA-CHICAGO RECAP: The game was a 1-run affair until the top of the eighth when the Cougars scored twice to take a 4-1 lead. The Cobbers would counter with single runs in the eighth and ninth and had the game-tying run on third base in the eighth but couldn't bring the run home. CC outhit No.2-ranked Chicago 7-5. Senior catcher Alec Sames was the only CC player with more than one hit in the game. He went 2-for-4 and scored a run in the ninth after coming up with a leadoff double. Austin Ver Steeg was the starting pitcher for CC and went 6.0 innings. He allowed two earned runs and struck out a season-high eight batters.

MCDOUBLE: Sean McGuire and Jake McKeever led the Cobber offense in Illinois. McGuire played in all three games and led the team in hits (5), RBI (3) and total bases (6). McGuire hit .385 in Illinois and has a .293 average for the season. McKeever hit .333 in two games.    

HOEFT RETURNS: Senior shortstop Nate Hoeft returned to the Cobber lineup on Saturday after suffering an injury in the team's spring trip on Mar. 8. Hoeft went 1-for-4 against Chicago and handled all four chances without an error. Hoeft extended his team-best hitting streak to six games. He leads the team with a .478 average and CC is now 4-2 when he is in the lineup.

UP THE WATTAGE: Junior Eric Watt played in two of the three games over the weekend and upped his on-base streak to seven games. Watt had a single hit against St. Mary's and Chicago and has a .417 on-base percentage this season.

SEASON STAT IMPROVEMENT: The Cobbers are now hitting .298 in the 14 games this season. CC had a .254 average in all of last season. The Concordia pitching staff has a 3.95 ERA and opposing hitters are hitting .279. Last year the Cobber pitchers had a 4.54 ERA.   

DOUBLED UP: Concordia had at least one double in all three games in Illinois. The Cobbers have had at least one 2-bagger in 13 of their 14 games this season and are second in the MIAC in doubles with 20. Senior Alec Sames leads the team with five doubles. He is currently tied for second in that stat category.

UP NEXT: Concordia is scheduled to host Jamestown in the home opener on Wednesday, Mar. 27. Due to the amount of snow on Buck Burgau Field that game will likely be postponed to a later date.