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League's Top Teams Meet For Showdown Series This Week
Head coach Aaron Sutton has Montana State Billings at the top of the GNAC standings heading into this weekend's showdown with second-place Western Oregon.
Head coach Aaron Sutton has Montana State Billings at the top of the GNAC standings heading into this weekend's showdown with second-place Western Oregon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

HOME SWEET HOME: Montana State Billings played its first home games of the season over the weekend and it didn’t take long for the team to enjoy the comfort of its own park. The team hit 13 home runs in its series victory over Saint Martin’s, six of which came in Sunday’s 17-5 win.

Those six homers broke a school record for home runs hit in a single game.

In total, the Yellowjackets tallied 43 runs in four games, paving the way to three victories that kept the club on top of the conference standings.

REPRESENTATION IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: In the eighth NCBWA West Region Rankings of the season, Montana State Billings is ranked at No. 7 while Western Oregon follows closely behind at No. 9. The two teams are slotted first and second in the GNAC standings and will meet this weekend in Billings.

UC San Diego tops the region, earning each of the possible eight first-place votes. The Tritons are 21-7 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

Andrew Schleusner, Montana State Billings
C • 5-11 • Jr. •  Kalispell, Mont.

Schleusner batted .562 in the Yellowjackets’ series victory over Saint Martin’s in the program’s first home games of the season, going 9 for 16 with four runs, eight RBI, four doubles and a home run. Schleusner opened the series by going 3 for 5 in Saturday’s opener. He then went 2 for 3 with a two-RBI double in the nightcap and opened Sunday by going 4 for 5 with three runs, a two-run home run and an RBI double.

Also Nominated: Colton Turner (Central Washington), Damon Peters (Concordia), Ryne Oshiro (Saint Martin’s), Collin Runge (Western Oregon).

Pitcher
Ryan Dorney, Saint Martin’s
RHP • 6-2 • Sr. • Bothell, Wash.


Dorney threw five scoreless innings to help give Saint Martin’s its lone win in its series with Montana State Billings. He allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out six to pick up his second victory of the season.

Also Nominated: James Brooks (Central Washington), Dylan Barkley (Montana State Billings), Alex Roth (Western Oregon).

AROUND THE GNAC
CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington returned to action for four games last week, meeting Concordia for its second home series of the season. The team swept Sunday’s doubleheader in dominant fashion to clinch a series victory after splitting the first two games of the set.

• The club was led at the plate by sophomore Mitch Lesmeister, who finished with a .412 average and a team-high five RBI. Outfielder Justin Hampson had a big weekend as well, hitting at a .467 clip while tallying six runs and three RBI.  

• Lesmeister’s .345 batting average leads the Wildcats at the start of the second half of league play. Hampson is following closely behind with a .304 batting average.

• As a team, CWU is hitting .254 this season, which ranks third in the conference through nine weeks of play. Defensively, the club ranks first in the league with a .963 fielding percentage.

• The Wildcats will hit the road this weekend but stay in-state for their trip to Lacey. They will meet Saint Martin’s for four contests, with game one scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

CONCORDIA
• The Cavaliers hit the road last week for a series at Central Washington. The team split a doubleheader on Saturday before falling in the final two games of the set.  

• Concordia was led by shortstop Damon Peters, who hit .563 while tallying eight runs and five RBI against the Wildcats. The junior is now hitting .300 on the season, ranking second behind infielder Eddie Vasquez (.301).

• As a whole, the club is batting .235 on the 2019 campaign. The team is second in the GNAC with seven triples.

• The Cavaliers will be in action for four contests this weekend. They will return to the field on Friday afternoon in Nampa, opening up a four-game set with Northwest Nazarene. 

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings met Saint Martin’s in Billings last weekend, putting together three straight wins to open the weekend and clinch a series victory. The contests marked the team’s first home games of the season.

• The team was led offensively by catcher/designated hitter Andrew Schleusner, who hit at a .562 average while tallying eight RBI and four runs over the series. The big weekend was punctuated by a super Sunday win in which Schleusner went 4 for 5 with a two-run home run and an RBI double. The explosive performance earned Schleusner the title of NCBWA West Region and GNAC Player of the Week, marking his team’s fourth such award from the conference this season.   

• On the mound, freshman Dylan Barkley stood out for the Yellowjackets. Barkley shined in Saturday’s extra-inning victory, striking out six in six innings of work while allowing just two runs.

• Montana State Billings is hitting .286 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 46 homers so far this year, which is 25 more than the next closest team (Western Oregon).  

• The Yellowjackets will return to the field this week, playing their second home series of the season against Western Oregon on Friday and Saturday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• The Nighthawks were back in action over the weekend, hitting the road to face Western Oregon. The club dropped the only game of the series, seeing the remainder of the four-game set washed out due to rain.

• Northwest Nazarene was led by shortstop Rocco Ferrari. Ferrari went 2 for 4 at the plate and is now hitting .283 on the season. That mark ranks third on NNU behind infielders Kyle Redford (.330) and Parker Price (.291).

• As a team, the Nighthawks are batting .253 this season. That mark ranks fourth in the conference.

• Northwest Nazarene ranks third in the league with a 5.08 earned run average. Senior Jesse Hilyard’s 4.04 ERA has him slotted at No. 6 in the GNAC individually.

• The Nighthawks are back in action this weekend, returning home to face Concordia in a four-game set. The series will get underway on Friday at 3 p.m. in Nampa.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s was back in action for four games at Montana State Billings last week. The Saints were able to salvage the weekend with an impressive performance in the series finale, taking down the conference-leaders for a 6-2 victory.

• Senior Ryan Dorney led the team against the Yellowjackets. The right-hander earned GNAC Pitcher of the Week honors after striking out six in five scoreless innings of his road victory.   

• Reliever Mickey Walker has tallied 34 strikeouts on the season and became the program’s all-time leader in the category last week. Walker now has 172 strikeouts on his career in Lacey.

• As a team, Saint Martin’s is second in the league in ERA at 4.85. The club’s 271 strikeouts rank second in the GNAC.

• The Saints will return to action this week against Central Washington for their seventh conference series. The four-game set will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Lacey.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon stayed home and blew out Northwest Nazarene in its only game of the week. The team’s offense exploded en route to a 13-1 victory on Saturday afternoon.

• While the bats were hot all day, right-hander Alex Roth continued to shine on the mound. The reigning NCBWA Pitcher of the Week went six innings, allowing just one run while striking out four.  

• First baseman Connor McCord led the club offensively against NNU, tallying three RBI and two runs while going 2 of 4 at the plate. Second baseman Patrick Chung also impressed, going 3 for 5 in addition to recording three RBI.

• Western Oregon is hitting .335 as a team, a mark that currently leads the conference. Its .417 on-base percentage also tops the GNAC.

• On the mound, the Wolves pitching staff is averaging 10.52 strikeouts per game. That mark leads the conference as the third month of the season continues.

• The club will return to the field on Friday to open up a four-game series at first-place Montana State Billings. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. (MDT) in Billings.

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