Pitching Duel Favors Western Oregon In First Round
Western Oregon advances to face Central Washington in the winners bracket on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. <i>Photo by Jaime Valdez</i>
Western Oregon advances to face Central Washington in the winners bracket on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Photo by Jaime Valdez

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Cam Walker threw a two-run complete game, scattering four hits with a GNAC Championships record 10 strikeouts to lead Western Oregon to a 4-2 win over Montana State Billings at Porter Park on Wednesday in the first round of the 2017 GNAC Championships.

Walker was matched up against MSUB ace Cody Cooper, who threw seven strikeouts to become the Yellowjacket’s all-time leader in career strikeouts with 237, which also ranks third in GNAC history. Cooper also threw a complete game with five hits and four runs allowed. Cooper drops to 2-8 on the season, while Walker picked up his second win of the season with both coming in his last two starts.

Following the victory, Western Oregon (29-15) advances to play Central Washington at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Wildcats will be the home team for that encounter. Montana State Billings (23-28) will play in the noon game against Northwest Nazarene, which will be the home team.

Joey Crunkilton got the Wolves’ big hit to break open the pitching duel with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave Western Oregon the lead for good. Forrest Garcia added one more with a line drive into right-center field that was deep enough to score Justin Wakem for a 4-2 lead.

Cooper took care of business the rest of the way for the Yellowjackets to give the offense a chance to get back in the game, but Walker denied that chance at every turn. Walker held the ‘Jackets to just two hits over the final five frames and didn’t let more than one batter reach base during that stretch.

Western Oregon grabbed the early lead with a Garrett Anderson base-hit up the middle to drive home Nyles Nygaard, but Cooper got out of the jam on the next batter with a fly out. Defensively, Anderson made six assists and the final putout of the game to lead the WOU defense to an errorless effort.

Montana State Billings took the lead temporarily in the top of the fourth inning when Ryan Myers belted to left field to drive in Jalen Garcia. The longball was Myers 11th of the season, which leads the Yellowjackets and ranks third in the conference. Myers also reached base with a single.

The two pitchers combined to allow only nine hits with 17 strikeouts. It was Walker’s first complete game and the third for Cooper, which ties him for second most in the conference.

Western Oregon is now the first GNAC team to reach 10 wins in the conference championships with an overall program record of 10-6. The Wolves are also 4-1 against MSU Billings in GNAC Championships history and 8-1 versus the Yellowjackets this year.