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Baseball Begins Slide Into Season's Home Stretch
Western Oregon catcher Jared McDonald led Western Oregon to a split at first-place Montana State Billings last week.
Western Oregon catcher Jared McDonald led Western Oregon to a split at first-place Montana State Billings last week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

BATS WARM UP: As the weather around the region begins to warm up, so have the offenses throughout the conference. Western Oregon exploded for 45 runs in its four-game series over the weekend while Montana State Billings tallied 35.

In Saturday’s lid-lifter between the two teams in Billings, the Wolves recorded a 23-10 win in which the clubs combined for 31 hits.

Northwest Nazarene and Saint Martin’s also had big weeks at the plate, notching 26 and 21 runs, respectively.  

REPRESENTATION IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: In the ninth 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.

UC San Diego tops the region, earning each of the possible eight first-place votes. The Tritons are 26-7 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

Wyatt Setian, Montana State Billings
SS • 5-10 • So. •  Post Falls, Idaho

Setian led the Yellowjackets in their series split against Western Oregon with a .333 batting average, going 6 for 18 with six runs, seven RBI, three doubles and two home runs. Setian hit his first home run of the series, a solo shot, in the 12-9 opening-game loss on Friday. He opened Saturday’s doubleheader by going 3 for 5 with two runs and four RBI, then closed by going 2 for 4 in the nightcap with a two-RBI double in the sixth.

Also Nominated: Liam Knowles (Concordia), Kyle Redford (Northwest Nazarene), Aaron Reynaud (Saint Martin’s), Jared McDonald (Western Oregon).

Pitcher
Tanner Inouye, Saint Martin’s
RHP • 6-0 • Jr. • Honolulu, Hawaii


Inouye allowed two runs on six hits and two walks and struck out 11 in six innings of work to lead the Saints in a 5-2 victory over Central Washington on Friday. In the process of his third win of the year, Inouye became Saint Martin’s all-time single season strikeout leader at 66.

Also Nominated: Dylan Diaz (Concordia), Keven Mackintosh (Montana State Billings), Jalen Fuhriman (Northwest Nazarene), Connor McCord (Western Oregon).

AROUND THE GNAC
CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington returned to action for three games last week at Saint Martin’s. The team was unable to emerge from Lacey with a win in a series that was shortened due to darkness.

• The club was led at the plate by sophomore Mitch Lesmeister, who finished with a .600 average along with three runs and two RBI. Outfielder Justin Hampson had a solid weekend as well, tallying one RBI along with a .417 on-base percentage.  

• Lesmeister’s .366 batting average leads the Wildcats as we reach the home stretch of the season. Hampson is following closely behind with a .298 batting average.

• As a team, CWU is hitting .248 this season, which ranks fourth in the conference through 10 weeks of play. Defensively, the club ranks first in the league with a .965 fielding percentage.

• The Wildcats will stay on the road this weekend in a trip to Monmouth. They will meet second-place Western Oregon for four contests, with game one scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Friday.

CONCORDIA
• The Cavaliers hit the road last week for a series at Northwest Nazarene. The team split a doubleheader on Saturday after falling in the first two games of the set.  

• Concordia was led by third baseman Liam Knowles, who hit .400 while tallying six RBI against the Nighthawks. The junior now tops the team with a .301 batting average while shortstop Damon Peters ranks second at a .290 clip.

• As a whole, the club is batting .236 on the season. The team is second in the GNAC with eight triples.

• 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 Saint Martin’s. 

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings met second-place Western Oregon in Billings last weekend, coming away with two victories after splitting a pair of doubleheaders. The contests came in the middle of a 12-game homestand for the Yellowjackets.

• The team was led offensively by sophomore Wyatt Setian, who hit at a .333 while tallying seven RBI and six runs over the series. The big weekend was punctuated by a super Saturday in which Setian notched six of those RBIs in a 5 for 9 day. The standout performance earned Setian the title of GNAC Player of the Week, marking his team’s fifth such award from the conference this season.   

• On the mound, southpaw Keven Mackintosh shined for the Yellowjackets. Mackintosh was dominant for the majority of Saturday’s win, striking out five in seven innings of work while allowing just three runs.

• Montana State Billings is ranked second in the GNAC with a .289 batting average.

• No team in the GNAC has hit more home runs than MSUB. The team has 52 homers so far this year, which is 23 more than the next closest team (Western Oregon).  

• The Yellowjackets will return to the field this week, playing their third consecutive home series as Northwest Nazarene comes calling on Thursday and Friday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• The Nighthawks were back in action for five games in the last week, hosting Concordia in a four-game series before in-state foe Lewis-Clark State came calling for a single contest. The club went 3-2, earning the series victory against the Cavaliers while being able to play nearly everyone on its roster against the Warriors.

• Northwest Nazarene was led by infielder Kyle Redford. Redford tallied six RBI and had a .400 batting average on the week, bringing his average to .339 on the season. That mark leads the team, with shortstop Rocco Ferrari cruising right behind at a .303 clip.

• As a team, the Nighthawks are batting .261 this season. That mark ranks third in the conference.

• Northwest Nazarene ranks third in the league with a 5.41 earned run average. Freshman Ben Johnson’s 4.46 ERA has him slotted at No. 8 in the GNAC individually.

• The Nighthawks are back in action this weekend, hitting the road to face Montana State Billings in a four-game set. The series will get underway on Thursday at 3 p.m. in Billings.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s was back in action for three games against Central Washington last week. The Saints were able to sweep the series with impressive performances throughout the weekend, winning both games in Friday’s doubleheader before emerging with a 9-7 victory on Sunday.

• Junior Tanner Inouye led the team against the Wildcats. The right-hander earned GNAC Pitcher of the Week honors after striking out 11 in six innings of work in Friday’s 5-2 win. In the process of his third win of the year, Inouye became Saint Martin’s all-time single-season strikeout leader at 66.    

• As a team, Saint Martin’s leads the league with a 4.68 earned run average. The club’s 303 strikeouts also rank first in the GNAC.

• At the plate, SMU is hitting .246 on the 2019 campaign. It is led by freshman Aaron Renaud, who is batting at a clip of .333 with a team-high 23 RBI.

• The Saints will return to action this week at Central Washington for their eighth conference series. The four-game set will begin on Friday at 3 p.m. in Portland.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon hit the road and split a critical series with first-place Montana State Billings last week. The team’s offense exploded in the two victories, tallying a 12-9 win on Friday and a 23-10 decision one day later.

• Catcher Jared McDonald led the club offensively against MSUB, tallying six RBI and nine runs while hitting at a .533 average. Left fielder Griffey Hale also impressed, totaling a team-high nine RBI in Billings.

• Western Oregon is hitting .334 as a team, a mark that currently leads the conference. Its .418 on-base percentage also tops the GNAC.

• On the mound, the Wolves pitching staff is averaging 10.90 strikeouts per game. That mark leads the conference as the third month of the season rolls on.

• The team and conference leader in both strikeouts and ERA is right-hander Alex Roth. The Peoria, Ariz product currently tops the league with a 3.09 ERA and 69 strikeouts.  

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

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