Walkoff Wednesday

Players rush to congratulate Matt Gruber (#2) after Gruber hit the first of two Cobber walkoff hits in their sweep over Carleton.
Players rush to congratulate Matt Gruber (#2) after Gruber hit the first of two Cobber walkoff hits in their sweep over Carleton.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (5/05/21)---It was Walkoff Wednesday at Bucky Burgau Field. Cobber fans were treated to not one, but two walkoff wins as Concordia swept Carleton in a midweek doubleheader.

Matt Gruber provided the first walkoff hit when he laced a single down the left-field line in the eighth inning of Game 1 that plated Mason Penske to give Concordia a 6-5 victory. It was senior Sean McGuire's turn to give Concordia a win in the nightcap. He drove a single to right field with the bases loaded that brought home Thomas Horan with the game-winning run in a 4-3 triumph.

Not only did fans get to see something different in the two walkoff wins, they also got to see the same pitcher earn the victory in both games. Sophomore Luke Levasseur pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the opener to get his second win of the year and then he went 2.0 scoreless innings in the finale to up his total to three victories.   

The two wins bring Concordia's conference record to the .500 level. CC is now 9-9 in league play and jumps into sixth place in the MIAC standings. The Cobbers are 15-13 in all games.

The opener was a pitcher's duel for the first 5.0 innings of play. Cobber senior Ty Syverson and Carleton freshman Ben Steel combined to allow only three hits and strike out six batter in the first five innings of scoreless baseball. Thins changed in the sixth when Carleton lit up the scoreboard for three runs on three hits with the biggest being a 2-run home run.

The Cobbers got a single run back in the bottom of the sixth when Andy Gravdahl's single through the right side of the infield scored Toby Sayles after Sayles opened the frame with a leadoff walk.

Carleton (4-18, 2-18 MIAC) countered Concordia's run in the bottom of the sixth with a solo run in the top of the seventh to take a 4-1 lead heading into the final at-bat of Game 1.

The Cobbers made the most of their turn at the plate. They were able to push the game into extra innings by scoring three runs on two hits to tie the score at 4-4. Penske and Justin Kloster started the 3-run seventh with singles. Penske was able to score on Kloster's single through the right side when the right fielder mishandled the base hit.

Kloster advanced to third on a wild pitch and then pinch hitter Chrisanto D'Agostino coaxed a walk to bring up a 1st-and-3rd situation. Noah Pilon pinch ran for D'Agostino and, after a strikeout, stole second base. Horan, the team's RBI leader, promptly delivered a 2-run single to left field that tied the score at 4-4 and send the game to extra innings.

The Knights put Concordia under pressure for the second straight final at-bat when they scored a single run in the top of the eighth.  

The Cobbers came up clutch for the second straight inning when they scored two runs with two outs in the inning. CC loaded the bases with two outs on three walks. Concordia started its 2-out rally when Pilon hit a ball to deep shortstop and was able to reach without a throw. His infield base knock scored Wyatt Gunkel and set the stage for Gruber. Gruber delivered with a laser down the left field line that would have been a double but he only needed to touch first after Penske came home with the winning run.

The Knights held a 9-8 edge in hits in Game 1. Horan was the only CC player with more than hit as he went 2-for-3 and had the two clutch RBI in the seventh inning.                

Syverson went the 7.0 innings of regulation. He gave up four earned runs on six hits and struck out seven. The run in the seventh was unearned for Levasseur. He allowed just one hit to earnt the first of his two wins on the day.

The Cobbers pulled their 3-run, come-for—behind magic again in the second game. CC allowed single runs in the first, third and fourth innings to fall behind 3-0. Concordia rallied to tie the game in the sixth when they plated three runs on four hits. The biggest base knock was provided by Gruber who hit a dying liner down the left-field line which resulted in a 2-run double. Horan added his third RBI of the day when he tied the game with a seeing-eye single up the middle.

Horan then started the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh. He walked to start the frame and moved up to third base when Gravdahl singled in the next at-bat. McGuire gave Concordia the sweep when he pounded a single to right field that plated Horan.

The Cobbers outhit Carleton 7-6 in Game 2. Concordia had seven different players record hits in the nightcap.

Penske got the start on the hill in the second and pitched the first 5.0 innings. He allowed three earned runs, four hits and struck out a pair. Levasseur finished the final 2.0 innings, didn't allow a run and got his second win of the day.

HORAN'S HAUL: Horan's three RBI on the day ups his season total to 26 on the season. Those three runs driven in move him into a tie for third place on the MIAC leaderboard. He has now had at least one RBI in four straight games. During those last four games he is hitting .412 (7-for-17) which has upped his season batting average to .297.

GRAVDAHL GETS ON BASE: Gravdahl had a base hit in both games and has now reached safely in 16 straight contests. Gravdahl is hitting .327 on the year and is second on the team in on-base percentage (.429). His team-leading .607 slugging percentage is sixth in the MIAC.

MATT THE BAT MAN: Don't look now, but Gruber is up to his old tricks. After having his 15-game hit streak come to an end, he has now hit safely in seven straight games and has a team-best .384 batting average. That is sixth highest in the MIAC. Gruber has 112 at-bats this year which is fourth most in the conference.

PLAYOFF PRIMER: In case you were wondering; every team in the conference makes the MIAC playoffs. The league adopted a new playoff rule for this year only which has the team's finishing in the No.2-No.11 spots playing a best-of-3, play-in series to determine the 6-team playoff field.  

UP NEXT: Concordia will host its final regular-season home games on Saturday, May 8 at 1 p.m. when they face league-leading St. Thomas in the first two games of a 3-game series. The Cobbers will conclude the conference season at St. Thomas on Sunday, May 9 in a single 9-inning game starting at 1 p.m.  

RECAP SPONSOR: Today's recap sponsor is Eventide Senior Living Communities. Cobber athletics would like to thank Eventide for their continued support of Concordia student/athletes.