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Play Heats Up As Baseball's Second Half Begins
A big weekend offensively for Northwest Nazarene's Parker Price helped the Nighthawks to another big performance on the road.
A big weekend offensively for Northwest Nazarene's Parker Price helped the Nighthawks to another big performance on the road.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

WELCOME TO THE STRIKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKEOUT CLUB: Prior to Saturday, only five pitchers in GNAC history had tallied 15 strikeouts in a single game. That number is now up to six.

Western Oregon right-hander Alex Roth joined the illustrious fraternity on Saturday, striking out 15 batters in seven innings of work.

His efforts helped WOU to Saturday’s 3-0 victory while earning the Peoria, Ariz. native the honor of NCBWA and GNAC Pitcher of the Week.

REPRESENTATION IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: In the seventh NCBWA West Region Rankings of the season, Montana State Billings is ranked at No. 8 while Western Oregon follows closely behind at No. 9. The two teams are separated by just two games in the GNAC standings as the second half of conference play gets underway this weekend.

UC San Diego tops the region, earning each of the possible eight first-place votes. The Tritons are 20-5 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

Landon Peterson, Montana State Billings
C • 5-9 • Sr. • Boise, Idaho

Peterson led the Yellowjackets in a series win over Concordia with a .385 batting average over the four games, going 5 for 13 with three runs, eight RBI, two home runs and five walks. Peterson had a two-run homer and drew a bases-loaded walk for his three RBI in Friday’s 14-6 win in the opener before going 2 for 4 in the nightcap. He opened Saturday by going 2 for 4 with two runs and a grand slam in the third inning.

Also Nominated: Kyler Kedroske (Concordia), Parker Price (Northwest Nazarene), Aaron Renaud (Saint Martin’s), Patrick Chung (Western Oregon).

Pitcher
Alex Roth, Western Oregon
RHP • 6-5 • Jr. • Peoria, Ariz.

Roth allowed three hits and one walk over seven innings in a 3-0 victory over Saint Martin’s on Saturday. In the process, Roth struck out 15 batters, setting a Western Oregon record and tying him for the GNAC single-game record with five other players. At one point, Roth struck out seven batters in a row from the first to the third innings and is now averaging 14 strikeouts per nine innings.

Also Nominated: Dylan Diaz (Concordia), Jesse Hilyard (Northwest Nazarene), Steen Fredrickson (Montana State Billings), Clark Streby (Saint Martin’s).

AROUND THE GNAC
CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington returned to the diamond for four games last week, meeting Northwest Nazarene for its first home series of the season. The team took the second contest of the set but the Nighthawks ultimately left Ellensburg with the series victory.

• The club was led at the plate by sophomore Mitch Lesmeister, who finished with a .533 average and four runs. Outfielder Yi-an Pan had a big weekend as well, hitting at a .333 clip while tallying a team-high five RBI.  

• Lesmeister’s .333 batting average leads the Wildcats at the end of the first half of league play. Outfielder Justin Hampson is following closely behind with a .286 batting average.

• As a team, CWU is hitting .251 this season, which ranks fourth in the conference through eight weeks of play. Defensively, the club ranks second in the league with a .963 fielding percentage.

• The Wildcats will stay in Ellensburg this weekend for their second home series of the season. It will meet Concordia for four contests, with game one scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday.

CONCORDIA
• The Cavaliers were at home last week for a series against visiting Montana State Billings. The team dropped the first three games of the weekend but is riding some momentum after recording a 3-2 victory against the league-leaders in the series finale.  

• Concordia was led by senior Trevor Huddleston, who hit .400 while tallying one run and RBI against the Yellowjackets. The outfielder/pitcher is now hitting .264 on the season, ranking third behind infielders Eddie Vasquez (.292) and Liam Knowles (.272).

• The club is slotted third in the conference with a .959 fielding percentage. 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 Saturday afternoon in Ellensburg, opening up a four-game set with Central Washington. 

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings met Concordia in Portland last weekend, putting together three straight wins to open the weekend and clinch a series victory. The Yellowjackets outscored the hosts 17-8 in Friday’s doubleheader before blanking their opponent for a 6-0 win in Saturday’s opener.

• The team was led offensively by catcher Landon Peterson, who hit at a .385 average while tallying eight RBI and two home runs over the series. The big weekend was punctuated by a super Saturday in which Peterson went 2 for 4 with two runs and a grand slam in the third game. The explosive performance earned Peterson the title of GNAC Player of the Week, marking his team’s third such award this season.   

• On the mound, senior Steen Fredrickson stood out for the Yellowjackets. Fredrickson shined in Friday’s lid-lifter, going six scoreless innings while striking out six.

• Montana State Billings is hitting .275 on the 2019 campaign, slotting the club second in the conference in batting average.

• No team in the GNAC has hit more home runs than MSUB. The team has 33 homers so far this year, which is 12 more than the next closest team (Western Oregon).  

• The Yellowjackets will return to the field this week, playing their first home series of the season against Saint Martin’s on Saturday and Sunday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• The Nighthawks were back in action over the weekend, hitting the road to face Central Washington. The club continued its winning ways in Ellensburg, sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader to escape with a series victory.

• Northwest Nazarene was led by Gonzaga transfer Parker Price. Price paced NNU with a .375 average at the plate while driving in five runs and scoring six himself. Freshman Ben Johnson also had a very productive weekend at the dish, tallying five RBI in four games.

• Everyone’s bats were on fire over the weekend as the team totaled 29 runs in the three games it won. The Nighthawks are now 11-7 in away games in 2019, which leads the conference.

• Northwest Nazarene ranks third in the league with a 4.78 earned run average. Senior Jesse Hilyard’s 4.04 ERA has him slotted inside the top-10 in the GNAC individually.

• The Nighthawks are back in action this weekend, staying on the road for a four-game set at Western Oregon. The series will get underway on Friday at 1 p.m. in Monmouth.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s was back in action for four games at Western Oregon last week. The Saints played some of their best baseball of the season as they earned a split against the Wolves.

• Freshman Aaron Renaud led the team offensively against the Wolves. The first baseman hit at a .400 average over the four-game series, driving in five runs while scoring two himself.

• On the mound, senior Aaron Shoup has led the Saints in 2019. The southpaw tops SMU with a 2.82 earned run average in seven appearances, posting two victories and 41 strikeouts.

• As a team, Saint Martin’s leads the league in ERA at 4.21. The club’s 233 strikeouts rank second in the GNAC.

• The Saints will return to action this week at Montana State Billings for their sixth conference series. The four-game set will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Billings.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon returned home last weekend and split a competitive series with Saint Martin’s after blowing out Lewis-Clark State in a single game. The team’s offense exploded in the first and last contests of the week, tallying 11 runs in each of the victories.

• The club’s best defensive effort of the week came in Saturday’s series-opening, 3-0 victory against the Saints. Right-hander Alex Roth shined on the mound, tying a conference record with 15 strikeouts en route to NCBWA West Region and GNAC Pitcher of the Week honors.  

• Catcher Jared McDonald led the club offensively against SMU, tallying two RBI and two runs while hitting at a .364 clip. Freshman Jacob Maiben also impressed, tallying a .333 average at the plate.

• Western Oregon is hitting .328 as a team, a mark that currently leads the conference. Its .411 on-base percentage also tops the GNAC.

• On the mound, the Wolves pitching staff is averaging 10.73 strikeouts per nine innings. That mark leads the conference as the third month of the season begins.

• The club will return to the field on Friday to open up a four-game series against Northwest Nazarene. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. in Monmouth.

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