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Yellowjackets Buzz Way To Top Of Baseball Standings
A huge week at the plate for outfielder Jalen Garcia helped extend the Yellowjackets win streak to seven games.
A huge week at the plate for outfielder Jalen Garcia helped extend the Yellowjackets win streak to seven games.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A NEW LEADER: Off to a red-hot start to conference play, Montana State Billings now tops the conference standings after four weeks of action.

The Yellowjackets rolled to a series win two weeks ago, taking the final three games of their set against Central Washington. That kicked off their most-recent winning streak, which has since grown to seven after a sweep at Saint Martin’s.

Montana State Billings senior Jarrod Molnaa was named the NCBWA West Region and GNAC Pitcher of the Week after throwing the first nine-inning complete-game in the conference this season. His efforts helped MSUB to Sunday’s 6-0, series-clinching win. 

REPRESENTATION IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: In the sixth NCBWA West Region Rankings of the season, Western Oregon is ranked at No. 8 while Montana State Billings rounds out the poll at No. 10. The two teams are separated by just one game in the GNAC standings as the first half of conference play winds to a close this weekend.

UC San Diego tops the region, earning each of the possible eight first-place votes. The Tritons are 17-4 so far this season. 

IT’S AUTOMATIC: For the first time in conference history, the GNAC will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Baseball Tournament in 2019. The winner of the GNAC Championships, held May 8-10 in Portland, will receive that automatic berth. Each of the top four teams in the league standings at the culmination of the regular season will qualify for the GNAC Championships.

The defending GNAC Championships title-holders, Western Oregon, have won the tournament four times in the event’s history. Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington each enter 2019 with one tournament title.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Player

Shawn Grandmont, Northwest Nazarene
3B • 6-1 • Jr. • Lethbridge, Alta.

Grandmont led Northwest Nazarene to a series win over Western Oregon by batting .467 in the four games, going 7 for 15 with three runs, five RBI, four doubles and four stolen bases. He had a .529 on-base percentage and .733 slugging percentage.

Also Nominated: Liam Knowles (Concordia), Jalen Garcia (Montana State Billings), Austin Feist (Saint Martin’s), Griffey Halle (Western Oregon).

Pitcher
Jarrod Molnaa, Montana State Billings
RHP • 6-3 • Sr. • Kennewick, Wash.

Molnaa threw the first nine-inning complete-game in the GNAC this season to take a 6-0 win over Saint Martin’s on Sunday. He allowed three hits and one walk while striking out nine. The victory clinched a series win over the Saints and is the first shutout for a MSUB player since 2015.

Also Nominated: Trevor Huddleston (Concordia), Aaron Shoup (Saint Martin’s), Alex Roth (Western Oregon).

AROUND THE GNAC
CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington returned to the diamond for four games last week, meeting Concordia in Portland. The team took the first contest of the series in 12 innings but dropped the final three games in competitive fashion.

• The club was led at the plate by outfielder Justin Hampson, who led the team with two RBIs and a .357 average. Senior Robert Ball had a big weekend as well, hitting at a .333 clip while tallying two runs.  

• Hampson’s .298 batting average leads the Wildcats as we approach the end of the first half of league play. Sophomore Mitch Lesmeister is following closely behind with a .296 batting average.

• As a team, CWU is hitting .244 this season, which ranks fourth in the conference through seven weeks of play. Defensively, no team has fielded better as the club leads the league with a .971 fielding percentage.

• The Wildcats will return to the field this weekend for their first games in Ellensburg this season. It will meet Northwest Nazarene for four contests, with game one scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. on Friday.

CONCORDIA
• The Cavaliers were at home last week for a series against visiting Central Washington. The team dropped the opener in 12 innings but bounced back with three consecutive victories to win the series.  

• Concordia was led by shortstop Damon Peters, who hit .500 while notching three RBI and three runs against the Wildcats. The junior is now hitting .244 on the season, ranking third behind infielder Liam Knowles (.267) and catcher Dominic Enbody (.261).

• The club’s pitching staff is slotted fifth in the conference with a 5.74 earned run average. Offensively, the team is second in the GNAC in triples at seven.

• The Cavaliers will be in action for four contests this weekend. They will return to the field on Friday afternoon in Portland, opening up a four-game set with first-place Montana State Billings.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings met Saint Martin’s in Lacey last weekend, putting together four straight wins to record the series sweep. The Yellowjackets outscored the hosts 12-1 in Sunday’s doubleheader after tallying a pair of tight wins the day before.

• The team was led offensively by outfielder Jalen Garcia, who hit at a .533 average while tallying eight hits and six stolen bases over the series. The big weekend was punctuated by a super Sunday in which Garcia went 3 for 4 with one RBI in each game.  

• On the mound, senior Jarrod Molnaa stood out for the Yellowjackets. The right-hander was named the GNAC and NCBWA West Region Pitcher of the Week after becoming the first pitcher this season to throw a nine-inning complete-game in the conference.   

• Montana State Billings is hitting .283 on the 2019 campaign. That average has the team slotted second in the conference.

• No team in the GNAC has hit more home runs than MSUB. The team has 27 homers so far this year, which is seven more than the next closest team (Western Oregon).  

• The Yellowjackets will return to the field this week, staying on the road for a four-game series at Concordia.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• The Nighthawks were back in action over the weekend, returning home to host Western Oregon. The club outplayed one of the region’s top teams over the four-game set, taking the final three contests to win the series.

• Northwest Nazarene was led by third baseman Shawn Grandmont. Grandmont paced NNU with a .467 average at the plate while driving in five runs and scoring three himself. The offensive explosion earned Grandmont the honor of GNAC Player of the Week.

• The team’s ability to win close games paid off this weekend. The Nighthawks prevailed 11-10 in extra innings on Friday, then topped the Wolves for an 8-7 victory in Saturday’s series finale.

• Northwest Nazarene ranks third in the league with a 4.71 earned run average. Senior Cooper Webster’s 4.22 ERA has him slotted inside the top-10 in the GNAC individually.

• The Nighthawks are back in action this weekend, hitting the road for a four-game set at Central Washington. The series will get underway on Friday at 12 p.m. in Ellensburg.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s was back in action for four games against Montana State Billings last week. The Saints were unable to tally a victory against the first-place Yellowjackets.

• Sophomore Isaac Hegamin led the team offensively against the Yellowjackets. The second baseman hit at a .214 average over the four-game series.

• On the mound, senior Aaron Shoup has led the Saints in 2019. The southpaw tops SMU with a 2.79 earned run average in five appearances, posting two victories and 39 strikeouts.

• As a team, leads the league in ERA at 4.12. The club’s 215 strikeouts also tops the GNAC.

• The Saints will return to action this week at Western Oregon for their fifth conference series. The four-game set will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Monmouth.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon hit the road last weekend and dropped a competitive series to Northwest Nazarene. Each team scored 29 runs over the four-game set but the Wolves ended up on the wrong end of three tight contests.

• The club’s only victory of the week came in dominant fashion in the series-opener. Right-hander Alex Roth impressed on the mound, allowing one run and two hits in five innings of work to lead WOU to a 6-1 win.  

• Senior Griffey Halle led the club offensively on the week, tallying eight RBI while hitting at a .353 clip on the trip to Nampa. Freshman Jacob Maiben also impressed, tallying a .462 average at the plate.

• Western Oregon is hitting .336 as a team, a mark that currently leads the conference. Its .420 on-base percentage also tops the GNAC.

• On the mound, the Wolves pitching staff is averaging 10.85 strikeouts per game. That mark leads the conference as the second month of the season comes to a close.

• The club will return to the field on Saturday to open up a four-game series against Saint Martin’s. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. in Monmouth.

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