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Western Oregon, Central Washington Catch Fire In April
Craig Grubbe has started four games on the mound this year for Western Oregon.
Craig Grubbe has started four games on the mound this year for Western Oregon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The GNAC’s top two teams, Western Oregon and Central Washington are a combined 10-1 in the month of April with a combined active winning streak of nine games with four weeks left in the season.

Western Oregon has won all five games it has played in April and holds a 1.5-game lead in the GNAC standings. The Wolves defeated Concordia and Saint Martin’s last week to extend the streak. Central Washington has won 10 of its last 11 games dating back to late March and is now in second place in the standings. The Wildcats are also 8-3 when playing at home.

Central Washington will stay at home this week to face Saint Martin’s which will be the official home team in the book. The series was moved to Ellensburg, Washington, as a result of rain-soaked field conditions in Lacey. Western Oregon will play a five-game series at Montana State Billings, wrapping up the first series between the two teams before beginning the regularly scheduled four-game set. The other series features Concordia at Northwest Nazarene. The two teams split their first meeting. Concordia is looking to snap a four-game losing streak.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Player
Jake Levin, Central Washington
RHP • 6-5 • Sr. • Redmond, Wash.

Levin paced Central Washington with six hits, seven runs, five RBIs and two home runs as the Wildcats won four of five games this week over Concordia. He went 2 for 3 with a home run, three RBIs and three runs in Saturday’s opener, a 9-5 win over the Cavaliers, and went 2 for 5 in the nightcap, a 7-6 victory. His efforts helped make Central Washington the first 20-win team in the GNAC this season.

Also Nominated:
Ryan Myers (Montana State Billings), Billy King (Northwest Nazarene).

Pitcher
Cody Cooper, Montana State Billings
RHP • 6-4 • Sr. • Bozeman, Mont.

Cooper threw 149 pitches to earn a complete-game 14-4 win over Northwest Nazarene on Saturday. He allowed the four runs on seven hits and struck out 12. It was his third nine-inning complete game of his career and his seventh career game of 10 strikeouts or more. In the process, Cooper became the sixth player in GNAC history to record 200 career strikeouts.

Also Nominated:
JJ Asinas (Central Washington), Scott Schepige (Concordia), Bryan Black (Northwest Nazarene).

AROUND THE GNAC

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington swept Concordia last week for just the second sweep during GNAC play this season. The four-win sweep came after dropping the series finale of a game started in March, but was halted because of a weather delay.
• The Wildcats have now won 10 of their last 11 games (not counting the game that began in March). For their efforts, the Wildcats were named the Red Lion/GNAC Team of the Week, becoming the first baseball team in 2017 to earn the distinction.
• Jake Levin took his success on the mound and transferred it to the plate this week, hitting two home runs at pitcher-friendly Porter Park. He registered a GNAC-best 13 total bases for his first GNAC Player of the Week award this year after twice being named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week. Along with leading the league in ERA, he now ranks second in OPS.
• Davis Griffin earned his third win of the season with seven innings of one-run baseball. He tossed five strikeouts and gave up just three hits before Christopher Dalton entered the game to pick up his fifth save of the season.
• Mackenzie Gaul leads the league in strikeouts with 50 in 52 innings of work. He is tied for the league lead in wins with five. He has also thrown three complete game shutouts.
• Central Washington will play an away series with Saint Martin’s at home after the series was moved to Ellensburg. It is the second time the two teams will meet this year. When the Wildcats hosted Saint Martin’s, they won two games in the series and outscored the Saints, 25-11.

CONCORDIA
• Concordia’s busy week didn’t end well as the Cavaliers lost five of the six games, including a four-game sweep to Central Washington. The loss to Western Oregon also wrapped up a sweep from a series that started in March.
• The second game of the week was also played to complete an unfinished series. The Cavaliers avoided a third sweep in one week with a 7-1 victory.
• Scott Schepige took the mound when the game resumed and threw all 4.2 innings with just one run allowed to claim his third win of the year. His second consecutive strong outing brought his ERA this year down to 4.30, which leads the team.
• Tyler Charlton took his fifth loss of the season despite recording a quality start, allowing just two runs in 8.1 innings of work.
• In the six games, the Cavaliers’ pitching staff recorded just 16 strikeouts combined, but still managed to hold opponents under four runs twice during the week.
• Cole Crosby brought his batting average up two points to .323 with five doubles and three triples. He has also scored a team-best 16 runs.
• Concordia will travel to Northwest Nazarene for a four-game series this week. When hosting the Crusaders, Concordia dropped the first two games, but won both games in the Saturday doubleheader, including a 6-2 win in the seven-inning finale.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings earned a split with Northwest Nazarene, scoring a combined 25 runs in the second and third games of the series.
• The Yellowjackets scored all 14 runs in the third game of the series without a home run. Connor Linebarger went 4 for 5 with three RBIs, a run and a double. Tanner Watson went 2 for 6 in the 14-4 victory, hitting a pair of doubles to drive in three runs and score both times.
• GNAC Pitcher of the Week Cody Cooper earned the victory in the third game, tossing a nine-inning complete game with 12 strikeouts and four runs allowed on 11 hits. The senior threw 149 pitches and became the sixth player in GNAC history to record 200 career strikeouts. Cooper has 42 strikeouts this year.
• Bryon Baker recorded another quality start in the series opener, but took a no decision after the bullpen blew a 4-1 lead. Baker threw seven innings with one run allowed and started the eighth inning, allowing two runs to his credit before leaving the game. The Crusaders ended up scoring five runs in the inning to earn the 6-4 win. Baker now has a 2.83 ERA and a .190 opposing batting average.
• Freshman Sam Muskat earned his first win since being named player of the week, throwing three two-run innings in relief with four strikeouts. Zach Robinson provided the offensive support with a 3-for-5 effort that included two runs, a double and stolen base.
• Montana State Billings became the second team to reach 200 runs this season, but still ranks fourth in the conference in batting average. The Yellowjackets have made the most of their opportunities offensively with a GNAC-best 43 sacrifice hits. The Yellowjackets have also stolen 30 bases and hit eight triples.
• The Yellowjackets will host a five-game series against Western Oregon.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene won the series opener and finale against Montana State Billings to earn a split. Both teams won four games in the season series, each winning two at home and two on the road.
• The Crusaders benefitted from some wild pitching by the Yellowjackets in the series finale, needing just six hits to score eight runs in the 8-7 victory. Andrew Helmstadter had two of those hits, including a home run. He went 2 for 2 with three walks, three RBIs and two runs.
• Billy King didn’t leave the ballpark this week, keeping his GNAC-leading home run total at 11, but he still was effective at the plate. King was 7 for 15 with two doubles, two RBIs and five runs.
• In the series opener, Ross Clevenger took a no decision with seven innings pitched and four runs allowed, three earned. Bryan Black put a zero on the board in the eighth inning to earn the win before Brady Baker struck out two and got a groundout for his third save of the year.
• Northwest Nazarene put five runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning with a bases-loaded walk, fielders choice and two singles. Jonathan Hallman’s pinch-hit two-RBI single gave NNU its first lead of the day at 5-4.
• Brett Nielson brought his batting average for the season up to .330, which ranks second on the team. He has 11 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and 54 total bases.
• The Crusaders will host a four-game series against Concordia that will begin with a doubleheader on Friday. The two teams split their series in Portland earlier in the season after NNU won the first two games.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• The Saints played two games on Monday after the series that was originally scheduled to be played on Saturday and Sunday was rained out. The Saints dropped both games by one-run margins.
• The Saints pitching staff allowed just five earned runs in the doubleheader. Mickey Walker threw the most innings without an earned run allowed, going four innings. He was saddled with the loss, however, after an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth inning gave Western Oregon a 3-2 win.
• Ryan Dorney earned a no decision in his start after allowing two runs in three innings of work. As a result, his ERA rose to 2.87, which still ranks fourth in the GNAC. Dorney still has not gotten a win yet this year in eight starts.
• The Saints have been led offensively by Steven Sordahl with a .323 batting average and a .380 on-base percentage in the two-hole. He has singled 27 times and stolen two bases on seven attempts.
• Both games in the series were tied after six and a half innings, but Western Oregon scored late both times to win. In the opener, the Wolves scored on an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
• All of the Saints’ last four losses have been by two runs or less. They have lost six times this season by one run.
• Saint Martin’s will play Central Washington in Ellensburg, Washington, after the series was moved because of unplayable conditions in Lacey, Washington. Saint Martin’s will still be the home team on Central Washington’s field, batting in the bottom half of the inning.

WESTERN OREGON
• The Wolves have won five games in a row against three teams, including a win against Concordia on Wednesday that completed the first four-game sweep of the 2017 GNAC season.
• Western Oregon won both games against Saint Martin’s by one-run margins in a doubleheader that was played on Monday after originally being scheduled for Saturday.
• Senior Elias Bedolla earned his second win of the year against Concordia, throwing five innings with two runs allowed on six hits and five walks. He pitched again on Monday, throwing one scoreless inning to earn his third win and bring his ERA down to 4.71 after the Wolves got the walkoff victory.
• The walkoff was the result of a Jacob Martinez single. After Joey Crunkilton singled as well, Martinez came around to score on a throwing error for the 3-2 victory in eight innings.
• Freshman Connor McCord threw six innings of one-run baseball in the opening game of the doubleheader with SMU. He struck out four batters and left the game with a no decision. His 2.81 ERA this season now ranks second in the conference.
• Brock Pradere suffered just his third strikeout of the season this week. He has only been struck out three times in 89 plate appearances, making him the fourth toughest player in Division II baseball to strikeout.
• Western Oregon will travel to Montana State Billings for a five-game series agianst the Yellowjackets. The series will start with the resumption of the series finale of the two squads’ first meeting, which Western Oregon already leads. Then they will play the regularly scheduled four game series, where Montana State Billings will be the home team.

 

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