Wildcats Weather the Storm, Down Wolves 7-3
Play Video Central Washington left fielder Joe Castro launched a three-run home run to set the tone in the second inning, and the Wildcats held on for a 7-3 win over Western Oregon.
Central Washington left fielder Joe Castro launched a three-run home run to set the tone in the second inning, and the Wildcats held on for a 7-3 win over Western Oregon.

Friday, May 9, 2014

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Following a 20-minute rain delay after the seventh inning, Central Washington erupted for three runs in the eighth, breaking a 3-3 tie and helping the Wildcats to a 7-3 win over Western Oregon in the GNAC Baseball Championships Friday evening at the WOU baseball field.

After each team defeated Saint Martin’s earlier in the day, CWU moved to 2-0 and WOU 1-1 in GNAC tournament play. The two teams will meet Saturday at 11 a.m. in the GNAC Championship Game.

Fueling the Wildcats early on was left fielder Joe Castro, who got CWU on the board with a three run home run. With two on and two out in the top of the second, Castro lifted a deep fly ball over the left field fence to give the Wildcats a 3-1 advantage.

The runs were the first WOU starter Matt Minnich had allowed against CWU this season, having surrendered just three hits in 10 innings over two prior starts against the Wildcats. On the game, Minnich tossed six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with a strikeout. 

CWU starter Kurtis Pitcher threw four innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits with two strikeouts and four walks. With the win, the Wildcats improved to 30-18 on the season.

WOU (30-20) took the early lead, as Chris Bradshaw singled to lead off the bottom of the first inning and Parker Miles drove him home with a base hit of his own.

Will Chavarria and Bradshaw set the table for the Wolves in the bottom of the second, with a base hit and a walk, respectively. Pitcher maintained his composure, coaxing a ground ball off of the bat of Matt Taylor to end the inning.

After Cory Welch led off the third inning with a single, WOU turned a smooth double play as Austin Hamilton fed the ball to Miles who relayed to Nathan Etheridge at first to complete the twin killing. The Wildcats threatened again in the frame by putting runners on the corners with two out, but Minnich steered the Wolves out of danger with a popup to end the inning. 

Miles kicked off the bottom of the third inning with a base hit into center field, and advanced to second two batters later on a single by McNabb. Etheridge, whose homer proved to be the deciding factor in the Wolves’ first win of the day, fouled out to third before Garret Harpole grounded out harmlessly to strand the runners and end the inning.

Chavarria reached on an infield single in the bottom of the fourth, and scored on a base hit by Taylor after a walk advanced him to second. 

With two outs and runners on first and second, catcher Jesse White fired a pickoff throw down to first base to cut down Miles and end the inning. 

After a leadoff walk in the fifth inning, Eric Tinnell laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Welch into scoring position at second. Kasey Bielec followed with a base hit up the middle, and Bradshaw launched a perfect throw to Chavarria at home to nail Welch at the plate.

The outstanding defensive play gave the Wolves momentum, and Tim Rausch led off the bottom of the frame with a deep double to left center field. CWU reliever Willie Davies buckled down and retired the next three batters, stranding the tying run in scoring position.

Central Washington loaded the bases in the top of the sixth inning, but with a full count and the runners moving, Minnich retired Welch on a pop up to left field to keep the deficit at a single run.

The Wolves finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh, as Rausch led off with a base hit and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Daniel McNabb. After his game-winning home run in Game 1, Etheridge delivered a clutch RBI single into right field that plated Rausch to tie the score at 3-3. 

After the rain delay, White drew a leadoff walk to start the eighth inning for the Wildcats, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jaykob Sells laid down a squeeze bunt, and White came around to score the go-ahead run and make the score 4-3.

CWU didn’t stop there, as Tinnell launched an RBI double into the left field corner plating Sells. An ensuing dropped fly ball allowed the Wildcat second baseman to come home and made the score 6-3.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Bradshaw and Taylor collected back-to-back base hits. GNAC Newcomer of the Year Welch was called upon to slide from shortstop to the mound, assuming his secondary role as Wildcat closer.

CWU extended its lead to four runs with a single tally in the ninth, and Welch retired the side in order in the bottom half to earn his GNAC-leading 11th save of the season.