Central Washington Unbeaten in GNAC Baseball Tourney
Joe Arlt blanked Western Oregon on five hits Thursday (Photo by Tim Miller).
Joe Arlt blanked Western Oregon on five hits Thursday (Photo by Tim Miller).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

MONMOUTH, Ore. - Left-hander Joe Arlt pitched a five-hit shutout as Central Washington emerged as the lone unbeaten team after Day 1 of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference baseball tournament Thursday despite scoring in just two innings on the day.

Arlt, who is now 3-0 on the season, hurled the second-seeded Wildcats (30-22) to a 3-0 win over top-seed Western Oregon (32-20) in Game 3 at the WOU Baseball Field.  Earlier both teams beat Montana State Billings (21-27-1) to eliminate the third-seeded Yellowjackets.

Spenser Watkins allowed just three hits in eight innings and fanned nine as WOU blanked MSUB 7-0 in the tournament opener.  Central then used a six-run fourth inning to overcome an early 2-0 deficit to beat the ‘Jackets 6-5 in Game 2.

Central then snapped a scoreless tie with three runs in the ninth to beat the Wolves.

CWU and Western Oregon, which is seeking its 12th straight GNAC title, will play again Friday at noon.  A Central win will earn the Wildcats their first GNAC title; a WOU win will force a final championship game at 3 p.m.

Western Oregon 7, MSU Billings 0

Center fielder Tim Rausch had four hits in four at bats including a RBI single in the first inning as the Wolves jumped to a 5-0 lead after three innings against Montana State Billings.

After jumping on top on Rausch’s hit, WOU added three runs in the second on a single by Chris Bradshaw and a two-run double by shortstop Blake Miller.  WOU later added a run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Will Chavarria and two in the seventh on an error and wild pitch.

Meanwhile, Watkins was in complete control allowing just four batters to reach base, three on singles and one on a walk before Jesse Pratt came on to pitch a scoreless ninth.  MSUB also hurt its cause committing five errors.

Central Washington 6, Montana State Billings 5

The Yellowjackets got an RBI double by Colby Robison in the first inning and a leadoff home run by Colter Sternhagen in the fourth, but the Wildcats took advantage of an error on a bunt to score six runs, five of them  unearned, in their half of the inning.

Catcher Kyle Sani, the GNAC’s top RBI producer with 57, drove in three of the runs with a two-out double.

MSUB fought back scoring two runs in the fifth off winning pitcher  Skye Adams (6-2) on a bases loaded hit batter and a balk. 

Reliever Willie Davies then pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings.  MSUB got on the board in the ninth on a double by Brody Miller but Davies got a ground out and fly out, stranding the tying run on second base and earning his third save of the season.

Miller had three of MSUB’s seven hits, while Justen Weigel, Marc Garza and Kyle Sani, the first three hitters in CWU’s lineup each had two hits for the Wildcats.

“We played well in game two with the exception of the one big inning that Central Washington had,” MSUB coach Rob Bishop said.

“We were able to bunch a few hits together after we made a defensive mistake. I am proud of our team for competing until the last pitch all year long. It was a tough day but we have nothing to hang our heads about.”

Central Washington 3, Western Oregon 0

Freshman Kramer Ferrell led off the ninth with a double and then scored on a single by Ethan Sterkel as the two Ellensburg High School products combined to produce the first run of the game after A.J. Burke had held the Wildcats to four hits through eight innings.

Sterkel then advanced to second on a bunt, to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch to give CWU a 2-0 cushion. Two walks and a single by Garza made it 3-0.

Arlt, who threw just 104 pitches in his masterpiece, walking two and fanning seven, retired the side in order in the ninth to improve to 3-0 on the season. 

Burke, who fell to 7-4 on the season, struck out nine batters during his eight-inning stint.