MEQUON, Wis. – The last time Mitchell Dubnicka started a game against a Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference opponent was April 4. Well, that was before Thursday, as he received the start in the NACC Tournament opener for the Concordia University Wisconsin Baseball team and helped lead them to an 8-5 win over Edgewood College with a pair of home runs.
Sometimes managers in Baseball have hunches and Eddy Morgan certainly had a good one on Thursday, penciling Dubnicka (Hartland, Wis.) into the seventh spot in the lineup. The start was just the second for him since April 4 as he also was in the lineup against the University of Chicago on April 29. Morgan has been impressed with what he's seen from the sophomore in practice as of late, and rewarded him with the at bats in the tournament opener.
With the win CUW will now play at 1 p.m. tomorrow against the winner of Game 3 between No. 2 Marian University and No. 5 Benedictine University. At the time this story was published, Benedictine was holding a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
In addition to Dubnicka's two-home run performance, the Falcons were also led by Carter Buuck, who showed why he was named First Team All-NACC and Freshman of the Year in the conference, with an outstanding pitching performance. Buuck (Hillsboro, Ore.) struggled with control at times, but still managed to deliver seven innings, while allowing just one run. He struck out seven and walked six, while scattering six hits in his fifth win of the season.
Sophomore Matt Schubert (West Bend, Wis.) added a triple for the Falcons offense, while senior Brandon Seifert (Germantown, Wis.) drove in two runs with a two-RBI single in the third inning. Seifert's hit was actually the Falcons only one in the first five innings, but CUW still managed to build a 3-1 lead thanks to some shaky Edgewood defense and a few walks.
The sixth and seventh innings were where the Falcons, the fourth seed in the tournament, took the game over, scoring three times in the sixth and twice in their next at bat, making the score 8-1. Dubnicka homered in each frame, leading off the sixth inning, while hitting a solo shot with one out in the seventh. Sophomore Bryan Thomas (Lowell, Ind.) roped an RBI double in the sixth, while senior Joel Sharon (Milwaukee, Wis.) drove in Thomas with an RBI single. Freshman Dan Ranieri (Loves Park, Ill.), who had done a tremendous job since taking over as the team's second basemen late in the season, drove in the other run of the seventh and finished with two hits for the Falcons.
Edgewood, the third seed in the NACC Tournament, made the game interesting with a pair of runs in both the eighth and ninth innings. The Eagles had the tying run on deck with nobody out in the ninth, but sophomore Josh Ruppel (Belgium, Wis.) came on to retire the final three batters, two of them via strikeouts, to earn his third save of the season.
Steve Gavin was the pitcher of record for Edgewood as he tossed 5.2 innings before running out of gas in the sixth inning. The Eagles were led by Nick Lehner at the plate as he recorded four hits and drove in three runs, two of those coming on a double in the ninth. Danny Appino added a two-RBI double in the eight for Edgewood.
Eight of nine starters for the Falcons tallied a hit on Thursday, while six different players drove in a run. Six different players also scored for the Falcons, including two each by Thomas and Dubnicka.