By Jim Dixon
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- Concordia-Chicago tries to win the final three innings in every game. On Friday, against Swarthmore, however, they won the early innings too as the Cougars finished the day with a 9-4 win in the first game in Bracket 2 of the 2018 NCAA D-III College World Series at neuroscience group field at Fox Cities Stadium.
- D-III World Series team-by-team preview
- Pat and Jim wrap up Day 1 from Appleton
- Defenses scuffle as UTT takes Game 1
- Game 2: Miseri leaves Macon stranded
- Game 3: Cougars maul Swarthmore
- Game 4: Wooster gets bulldogged
- World Series Day 1 scoreboard
- World Series Day 2 schedule
- World Series record book
- Photo galleries: Game 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
The Cougars racked up six extra-base hits with two leaving the yard off the bats of Connor Brandon and Keegan Tyrell. In all five innings that the Cougars crossed the plate it was hits of the extra-base variety that played an outsized role.
While the offense was scoring, Cougar starter Brian Musielak was pitching around base runners, stranding nine in his effective seven innings on the mound.
|Keegan Tyrell made the defensive play of the the game on a line drive off the bat of Swarthmore's leadoff man in the first inning.
Photo by David Malamut, d3photography.com
|Joe Silva's triple in the first inning was credited by his coach as the key offensive play of the game.
photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Concordia-Chicago prides themselves on playing to the end, and Swarthmore matched them in intensity in the teams' Division III World Series opener.
"It is always tough to coach against teams that play to the last out and they did," said Concordia-Chicago coach Mike Stawski. "I knew they would be tough. We knew what we had to do with our game plan. The guys stuck to the plan and believed in it. That is why we took off in the first inning."
"Their coaching staff and players played hard and are a tough talented team," said Swarthmore head coach Matt Midkiff. "Our guys did the same and it was a good D-III college baseball game."
Concordia-Chicago opened a 3-0 lead in the opening inning. Jose Mercado singled up the middle and Brain VanDuser was hit by a pitch. Joe Silva followed with a bases-clearing triple, scoring on Brady Roberts' single to left.
"We are not typically the best starters," said Stawski. "I did ask the team to throw the first punch as soon as we can. For Brian [Musielak] to throw a shutdown in the first and to get on the board, it relaxed everyone in the big setting."
Swartmore threatened in the second but left the bases loaded. The Garnet offense found home plate twice in the third, however. Swarthmore opened with a Cole Beeker single sandwiched between doubles by Charles Levitt and Jackson Roberts. With Beeker back in the dugout and runners on second and third, Jared Gillen's fly ball to the center fielder delivered the final run of the inning with the Cougars holding a 3-2 lead.
Tyrell moved the Cougars lead back to three runs with a home run that cleared the Scheels sign in right center, scoring Connor Brandon from first.
Concordia continued to add runs with three in the sixth inning. The big blow was Brandon's leadoff home run that cleared the fence and bounced off the scoreboard.
"Today when you come out with three hits it feels good," said Brandon. "It is really trusting your coaches and sticking to the approach they give out. Trying not to do too much at the plate and do your job as a teammate and get a win."
Swarthmore refused to quit even as it fell further behind, continuing to get runners on base in every inning and finally plating one run on the seventh. Their last push to cut into the Cougars' lead was in the eighth when they left the bases full.
"I think everyone in our dugout expected us to win the game, even in the last inning," said Midkiff. "The resilience in these guys is impressive. They just did not get the big hit in clutch situations."
The Garnet added a run in the ninth on back-to-back doubles by Conor Elliott and Gillen.
Brady Roberts led all hitters with four hits with Sliva and Brandon adding three apiece for the Cougars. Gillen led the Garnet with three hits. Silva had four RBIs for Concordia-Chicago.
Musielak earned the win, allowing three runs (all earned on eight hits and four walks) in seven innings. Alex Meyers pitched the final two innings for CUC, giving up an earned run on five hits. Musielak and Meyers combined to strikeout four. Ricki Cnti took the loss with eight runs on 11 hits and a walk in 5.1 innings. Three relievers combined for the final 2.2 innings for Swarthmore.
Concordia-Chicago will play the winner of Game 4 between Wooster and Texas Lutheran. Swarthmore plays the loser in an elimination game scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.