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Home Sports Grabanski breaks NAIA record during weekend double-header against Morningside

Senior outfielder Joey Grabanski (19) up to bat. 

Photo credit: Josiah Seabaugh (photo from previous game)

By Cohen Carpenter


Concordia split a Sioux City doubleheader against Morningside Saturday afternoon, driving home 18 runs on the day and making National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics history in the process.

The most potent home run hitter in NAIA history is a Bulldog. Joey Grabanski, in his fourth year of donning the Concordia navy and gray, has forcefully escorted 78 baseballs out of ballparks across the nation in 208 career games. Grabanski takes the record from Brice Cutspec, former first baseman at Azusa Pacific University, who set the mark at 77 back in 2010.

The historic run saw the Bulldogs’ left fielder hit an incredible 27 home runs in his junior season, putting him at 62 heading into his fourth year of play. Through 38 games this season, Grabanski has launched 16 out of the park with 12 more regular season games left to extend the record.

Amidst Grabanski’s incredible individual achievement, the success of the Bulldogs’ 2024 offense has been highlighted. Concordia ranks No. 6 in the NAIA with 81 home runs and No. 7 in slugging percentage at .596 with Jaiden Quinn, junior third basemen, leading the way for the squad with 19 homers, good for fifth in the nation.

Almost as exciting as the record itself was the first game, in which the record was achieved. The home team got on the scoreboard first with some small-ball in the bottom of the second. A double, fielder’s choice, and a bunt were all it took to put the Mustangs up 3-0 in the opening frames.

A half inning later, Grabanski tied the NAIA home run lead at 77 with a solo-shot to deep left-center field. However, it wasn’t until the fourth inning that the Bulldogs really began to flex their offensive muscle. The top of the fourth featured nine runs, seven hits on two Mustang errors. It was the third of these seven hits that garnered the eyes of the NAIA baseball nationwide – Joey Grabanski’s record-breaking home run.

The Bulldogs were not satisfied with history, however, as immediately following Grabanski’s three-run blast, junior designated hitter Bradley Hallock went yard with a three-run shot of his own and sophomore Zackery Day put the cherry on top with a solo blast to put up the ninth and final run of the inning.

Morningside threatened to rally in the late innings but the Concordia closer, sophomore Maverick Wylder, pitched around two hits and was able to escape the final frame, only allowing one run and securing the Bulldogs’ 13-11 win.

The second contest had a much different tone, as pitching played a much more prominent role throughout the nine-inning game two.

After roughing up the Mustangs’ starter Cade Nolan for eight runs and four hits, the Bulldogs’ lineup was virtually silenced by an excellent performance from the Mustang bullpen. Morningside’s Logan Warkentin pitched the final three innings, not allowing a hit or run on three walks.

In addition, Morningside was able to handle business on offense, driving across eight runs on nine hits. Concordia’s Caden Johnson was credited with the loss after giving up six earned runs, moving his record to 4-2 on the season.

Across the two games, Grabanski led the team with five RBIs by virtue of the long ball and a game two walk. Tied for the RBI lead was Bradely Hallock, who was the only Bulldog to go yard in both games Saturday, accounting for Concordia’s only homer in game two.

When it was all said and done, Concordia had 20 hits across 16 innings of play, but were nevertheless out-hit by the Mustangs, who mustered 21 across the two games.

Concordia will have a change to rectify the season series Sunday, April 14 when they square off against the Mustangs for another doubleheader in Sioux City. First pitch for game one will be 1 p.m.

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