WINONA, Minn. (5/19/21)---The tables were turned in Concordia's MIAC Playoff Play-In game at St. Mary's on Wednesday. After sweeping St. Olaf in the Round of 12 by using unanswered run streaks, the Cobbers had the Cardinals score six unanswered runs in the final three innings and lost 6-1.
No.6 seed Concordia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth but then No.3 seed St. Mary's scored five, 2-out runs in the bottom of the innings and a single run in the eighth to prevail in the conference tournament game.
The Cobbers finish their season with a 17-19 record while the Cardinals advance to the double-elimination semifinals with a 26-13 overall mark.
Concordia starting pitcher Mason Penske didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning and gave up just the lone single until there were two outs in the sixth.
The Cobbers had two hits in the first four innings of play. Justin Kloster posted a 2-out single to right field in the second and then Andy Gravdahl came through with a 1-out infield single in the fourth.
Concordia finally broke the 0-0 tie in the top of the sixth. Thomas Horan led off with a single to right field. He advanced all the way to third when Gravdahl pulled a single down the right-field line. Sean McGuire put up the third consecutive 1-base hit which scored Horan and sent Gravdahl to second base.
Ben Swanson followed with a sacrifice which upped the runners to second and third. Perhaps the biggest moment of the game came when St. Mary's made a pitching change with one out and runners on second and third. The new pitcher entered the game and was able to get a fielder's choice ground ball which cut down Gravdahl at the plate. Dawson Leer got on board with a walk to load the bases but then a strikeout ended the potential 2-out rally. The new Cardinal pitcher would finish off the game without allowing a run.
The Cardinals responded with five, 2-out runs in the bottom of the frame. Penske retired the first two SMU batters on a fly ball to right and a ground ball to third. A walk, single and double produced two runs and game St. Mary's a 2-1 lead. The Cardinals would post three more singles and reach by an error to account for the other three scores in the game-deciding inning.
Concordia was able to come up with a hit in the seventh and then had runners on first and second with one out in the ninth but couldn't duplicate their late-game magic from last weekend and lost by five runs.
The Cobbers outhit the Cardinals 8-7 in the game. Matt Gruber, Gravdahl and Kloster all had 2-hit games while Horan and McGuire had one hit each.
Penske went the first 5.2 innings before giving way to Luke Levasseur. Penske allowed three earned runs on five hits and struck out three. Levasseur finished with a 1.1 innings on the hill, didn't allow an earned run and gave up two hits. Sophomore Gabe Duncan came on with the bases loaded in the eighth inning and proceeded to get three straight outs.
EDGED AT THE WIRE: Gruber's 2-hit afternoon helped him edge McGuire for the team's batting title. Gruber finished with a .357 average while McGuire ended his senior year just three percentage points behind at .354. Gruber also led the team in total hits (51) and doubles (11).
THE STREAK WILL SEE YOU IN 2022: Gravdahl finishes the 2021 season with a 24-game on-base streak. That streak will carry over to next season. The last time Gravdahl didn't reach base was on Apr. 9. Gravdahl led the team in home runs (4), triples (7), slugging percentage (.538) and stolen bases (12).
STAT LEADERS: Other team leaders for the Cobbers in 2021 include Horan who led the team in on-base percentage (.423), runs scored (30) and RBI (28). Penske captured the team ERA crown with a 3.16 mark. Ty Syverson led in wins (7), innings pitched (57.2) and strikeouts (66).
RECAP SPONSOR: Today's recap sponsor is Red River Trails bus company. Cobber athletics would like to thank Red River Trails for their continued support of Concordia student/athletes.