Four-ge Ahead! Cougars are NACC Tournament Champs Again!

More news about: Concordia-Chicago

May 14, 2016 - The Concordia-Chicago Cougars are moving on to their fifth consecutive NCAA III Regional after wrapping up the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference tournament this afternoon with a 5-1 win over the Milwaukee School of Engineering. For the Cougars (32-11), it is their fourth consecutive NACC tournament title and 12th consecutive tournament victory.

Pitching was the buzzword for CUC in the three games of the tournament. Cougar pitchers held the opposition scoreless until the eighth inning of the final game, a span of 23 1/3 innings. "We had a chance to work with our pitchers prior to coming up here to Mequon, and we felt very confident that they were going to make some huge strides forward," said CUC head coach Mike Stawski. "Sure enough, all of our starters went deep into the game and gave us the upper hand."  

Adam Schmitt (Peoria, IL/Limestone) earned the win with seven strong innings of shutout ball. The sophomore righthander, now 5-2 on the season, sturck out four while walking just one and allowing four hits. Brian Musielak (Chicago, IL/Brother Rice) hurled the final two innings, giving up the Raiders' lone run in the eighth but retiring the side 1-2-3 in the ninth on two strikeouts and a pop-up to third baseman Bryan VanDuser (Plainfield, IL/Plainfield North) for the final out. 

The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, VanDuser spanked a single back up the middle to get things started. After an out, a potential double-play ball was thrown wildly to second base, and the runners wound up on second and third. Brent Spohr's (Ingleside, IL/Grant Community) RBI grounder scored Van Duser for the first run of the game. After Mitch Wilson (Oswego, IL/H.S.) was hit by a pitch, Brady Roberts (Aurora, IL/Marmion Academy) followed with a single to center.  Andrew Massey (Chicago, IL/St. Rita)scored to make it a two-run lead, but Wilson was thrown out at third base to end the inning.

It became 3-0 in the third as Joe Silva (Arlington Heights, IL/Hersey) was plunked by Willem's first pitch. Silva stole second and was there one out later when Spohr singled to center. Silva beat the throw home while Spohr took advantage of the play to move to second base. However, Spohr was stranded at second when Willems retired the next two batters..

Following Spohr's third-inning single, Willems settled down and kept the Raiders in the chase by retiring 11 of the next 12 CUC batters. However, Schmitt was up to the challenge of keeping the opposition silenced. The sophomore used a 4-6-3 double play to get out of trouble in the fourth, and a strikeout ended the fifth after MSOE had advanced a runner to third base for the first time in the game.

The Cougars seemingly put the game out of reach with their final two runs in the seventh. Andrew Kroncke (St. Charles, IL/St. Charles North) laced a sharp single to left  and was sacrificed to second by Colin Bethran (Schaumburg, IL/H.S.). VanDuser was hit by a pitch, bringing Silva to the plate. Silva took ball one before lining the next pitch just past the diving reach of the MSOE second baseman. Kroncke came around with the fourth run while VanDuser raced to third. VanDuser scored moments later as Massey's lifted a fly ball to medium-deep center.

Owing to their fight and determination throughout the tournament, MSOE would not give this game up without mounting a rally. Tyler Doyle, the Raiders' leadoff man, worked a five-pitch walk and advanced to second on a deep fly to right that was caught by Silva in foul territory. .Singles by Jimmy Carrington and Brent McCumber scored Doyle to get MSOE on the board, and another single loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate. But Musielak's resolve stiffened, and he slipped a third strike past Owen Burnikel for the second out. The reliever then put an end to the uprising by inducing a grounder to VanDuser at third who threw to second for the force. Musielak then sailed through the ninth inning, giving the Cougars their fifth NACC tournament crown since 2009. This year's regional assignment will be the team's sixth since the same year.

The Cougars' destination could be announced as early as Sunday night. The locations of the eight sites can be found at The news will be announced here when it becomes available.