Big Innings Decide Split

Senior Sean McGuire rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the sixth inning in Game 2 against Crown. (Pic courtesy of Crown Sports Information).
Senior Sean McGuire rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the sixth inning in Game 2 against Crown. (Pic courtesy of Crown Sports Information).

ROSEVILLE, Minn. (3/19/21)---Concordia used the big inning to win the opener against Crown but was done in by the big inning in Game 2 and settled for a split with the Storm. The Cobbers used a 6-run second inning to win the first game 10-2 but then gave up a 4-run third frame in the finale and fell 5-4.

The split pushes Concordia's record to 3-1 on the year.

The Top 3 in the batting order provided the offensive spark for the Cobbers. The trio of Andy Gravdahl, Thomas Horan and Matt Gruber combined to hit .542 (13-for-24), drive in nine runs and scored six times. The other offensive outburst for CC came off the bat of senior Sean McGuire who connected on the team's first home run of the year when he deposited a ball over the fence to lead off the sixth inning in Game 2.

Ty Syverson earned his second win in as many starts. He pitched the first 5.2 innings, struck out nine and allowed only three hits and two earned runs.

GAME 1 RECAP: Concordia came up the biggest run production of the day in the second inning of the opener. The Cobbers trailed 1-0 after one frame as Crown hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first. CC would then answer with six runs on four hits and send 10 players to the players to the plate.

Senior Ben Swanson started and finished the inning. He opened the 6-run outburst by singling to center field. McGuire and catcher Toby Sayles walked to load the bases and then Gravdahl posted one of his two doubles in the game which drove home Swanson and McGuire. Horan made it back-to-back doubles when he drove in two runs with a 2-bagger to right field. Matt Gruber plated Horan with a single up the middle. He would come around to score the sixth run in the inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Mason Penske.

The six runs would be all that Syverson needed. After giving up the first-inning long ball he only allowed two hits struck out eight – and at one point retired 13 of the 15 batters he faced.

Concordia's final four runs were all courtesy of 1-run frames. Horan singled home McGuire in the third, Swanson's fielder's choice ground ball scored Canaan Fagerland in the fourth, Gruber plated Gravdahl with a single to center in the fifth and Horan capped the scoring with his fourth RBI of the game when he drove home Gravdahl from second after Gravdahl laced a 1-out double to left field.

Gravdahl went 4-for-5 from the leadoff spot, scored three runs and drove in two. Horan and Gruber also had multiple-hit games as the Top 3 in the order were a combined 10-for-15 with eight RBI. Horan was also 4-for-5 and drove in four runs and Gruber went 2-for-5 with two RBI.

Concordia outhit Crown 13-3 in the opener. All three of the Storm's hits came from shortstop Seth Betts who went 3-for-3 with two homers and a double. The Cobbers had at least one hit in six of the seven innings and hit .437 (7-for-16) with runners in scoring position.

Luke Levasseur closed out the game on the hill for CC. He went the final 1.1 innings, retired all four batters he faced and struck out a pair.

GAME 2 RECAP: The second game centered around the third inning. The Cobbers took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. Swanson's 2-run double was one of three hits in the innings. The other two base knocks started the inning. Max Boran led off with a triple to right center and then Gravdahl staked CC to an early 1-0 lead with a single to center. The Cobbers loaded the bases behind walks from Gruber and Fagerland which led to the 2-run, 2-out double from Swanson.

The lead would be short-lived as Crown scored four time in the bottom of the inning. The culprit was once again the long ball. The Storm hit three homers in the inning which produced all four of the runs.

Crown pushed the lead to 5-3 with a solo run in the fifth before McGuire capped the scoring with his solo shot in the sixth.

Concordia outhit Crown 7-6 in the nightcap. The Cobbers had at least one hit in five of the final seven innings of play. One big difference from the opener to Game 2 was hitting with runners in scoring position. After hitting .437 in Game 1 with an RBI chance, CC hit only .182 (2-for-11) with runners in a scoring position in the second game.

McGuire was the only Concordia player with more than one hit in the second game. He went 2-for-3 with the second long ball of his college career.

Mitch Porter started Game 2 and went the first 2.0 innings. He allowed only one hit and didn't give up a run. Justin Kloster, Ashwin Stratton and Mason Penske followed with Penske pitching a scoreless sixth inning.

TOUGH TOP 2: Gravdahl (leadoff) and Horan (No.2 spot in the order) sit atop the Cobber hitting list. Gravdahl is hitting .615 in the first four games of the year and has five extra-base hits and four stolen bases. Horan has a .500 average in four games and has a team-high seven RBI and five runs scored.

HIT STREAKS: Gravdahl and Horan are joined by Swanson as the three CC batters who have a hit in all four of the games in 2021. McGuire makes it four Cobber players who have reached base in all four games. Gravdahl has hit safely in six straight games dating back to last season while Horan and Swanson have fashioned 5-game hit strings.                              

SENIOR ARM STRENGTH: Syverson recorded his second straight 9-strikeout start. Her fanned in the season opener against Wis.-Superior and has 18 Ks for the year. He leads the MIAC in strikeouts this year and wins (2). Syverson has 98 career Ks and is 12-5.

UP NEXT: Concordia will host Jamestown on Tuesday, Mar. 23 at 3 p.m. in a single 9-inning game that was originally scheduled as a DH on Mar. 14. The Jimmies are 12-7 since the fall and 10-3 after restarting in February.

RECAP SPONSOR: Today's recap sponsor is Red River Trails. Whenver the Cobbers hit the road they climb aboard a Red River Trails bus to enjoy a smooth ride and to get ready for the game. Thanks to Red River Trails for being the official bus company of Concordia Athletics for decades.