MOORHEAD, Minn. (3/28/16)—The final game of March Chadness lived up to the hype as Concordia rallied from an 8-5 deficit against NAIA power Jamestown and beat the Jimmies, who are ranked ninth in the latest NAIA national poll, 11-8.
Cobber sophomore Chad Johnson hit two home runs and drove in five of Concordia's runs as he capped the month of March by hitting .478 and having a .783 slugging percentage.
Concordia's late-inning comeback helped handed Jamestown only its second loss of the season in 32 games. The Jimmies, who won their first 25 games of the year, are now 30-2.
The Cobbers pick up their second straight win and improve to 9-6.
For the second time in the last three contests a Cobber game was decided by three big innings. On Friday Concordia came out on the losing end of a 12-7 decision at Wheaton but on Monday the Cobbers used a five-run second frame and then a three-run eighth to come up with the win.
Johnson was the central character in both big innings for CC. He had a three-run home run in the second which gave Concordia a 5-0 lead and then cranked a two-run long ball in the eighth to pad the Cobbers' lead to 11-8.
Jamestown was able to put up eight runs in two innings after the Cobbers took a 5-0 lead. The Jimmies scored six runs on five hits in the third. The biggest hit of the inning for UJ was a grand slam off the bat of junior Landon Uetz.
Jamestown then went up 8-5 in the fourth when they got two runs from RBI on a walk and hit by pitch. Perhaps the turning point of the game came after the Jimmies had plated their two runs. With no outs, the bases loaded and UJ threatening to blow the game wide open, Concordia pitcher Sam Mattson was able to come up with a strikeout and then get a third-to-second-to-first double play to end the inning and keep CC within striking distance.
The Cobbers got back into the game with single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh frames. Senior designated hitter Tim Carlson was smack dab in the middle of those game-tying innings. He hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to start the comeback trail and then sprinted home from second base on a Jordan Domine single which tied the game in the seventh inning.
Concordia won the game when Tanner Kluis got on base on an error from the leadoff spot in the eighth inning. Turner Storm then laid down a perfect bunt with two strikes to sacrifice Kluis over to second. Phil Kuball then came up with a clutch two-out single to right field to score the game-winning. Johnson then blasted his second homer of the game on the next at-bat to push the final total to 11-8.
Sophomore Ryan Heisler recorded the win for Concordia. Pitching in only his second game of the season, Heisler came on in relief in the eighth inning. He walked the first batter he faced but then retired the next three to earn his first collegiate victory.
Junior Joe Hallock pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his MIAC-leading fourth save of the season.
Concordia used five total pitchers in the game. Besides Heisler and Hallock, Cole Christensen started the game and went the first three innings. He was relieved by Mattson who went two innings before handing the ball to Zack Nelson who pitched scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh.
Concordia had three home runs on Monday vs. Jamestown. The three long balls equaled their season total from the first 15 games of the year. Last year the Cobbers played three games on Mondays and hit four home runs in those contests. Chad Johnson now has six collegiate homers and three have come on a Monday.
MORE MARCH CHADNESS
Johnson finishes off March by hitting successfully in all five games the team played in the month. He now has a seven-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in eight straight games. The two-hit performance against the Jimmies was also his fourth multiple-hit game in the five games in March. Johnson has six multiple-hit games this season. Johnson's five-RBI day was also his team-leading fourth multiple-RBI game of the year.
Concordia's 13 hits all came from six players – who all had multiple hit games on Monday. Leadoff hitter Phil Kuball was 2-for-3, Johnson went 2-for-5, Tim Carlson 2-for-5, Jordan Domine 3-for-4, Cody Rahman 2-for-4 and Turner Storm 2-for-2.
The 11 runs scored by the Cobbers marks fifth time that the Cobbers have scored at least 10 runs in a game. CC is now 5-0 when they score at least 10 runs. Concordia also pounded out 13 hits for the second straight game. The Cobbers now have recorded eight double-digit hit games this year.
Today's "Tweet of the Game" comes from the eclectic Cobber Bullpen who credited the win to local radio personality Jack Michaels.
Sophomore Chad Johnson talks about his recent hot hitting streak and the team's success against Jamestown.
Concordia will have a break until the end of the week and then they will play a non-conference game at Minn.-Morris on Friday and return home to face St. Olaf in the conference opener on Saturday. The Cobbers beat the Cougars 10-7 in Moorhead on Mar. 11. Minn.-Morris is now 5-5 on the year while the Oles are currently 4-8.