Western Oregon Claims Third GNAC Tournament Title
Western Oregon has won the GNAC Championships titles in 2013, 2015 and now 2017.
Western Oregon has won the GNAC Championships titles in 2013, 2015 and now 2017.

Friday, May 12, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Western Oregon used an early lead to defeat Northwest Nazarene 9-1 to claim its third GNAC Championships title in five years and sweep the regular season and tournament titles on Thursday at Porter Park.

The Wolves used a familiar formula, scoring runs in bunches while relying on a steady pitching performance to win the title in three games. Western Oregon won against each of the other three teams in the tournament to improve to 12-6 in the tournament’s history.

It was a seven-run second inning that made the difference in the championship game with Brady Miller taking care of business on the mound. Miller threw seven innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts with just five hits and three walks allowed to earn his fifth win of the season.

Western Oregon forced the Crusaders to go through three pitchers in the second inning as seven runs came around to score, including two on an inside-the-park home run by Jay Leverett. The Wolves got the scoring started with a two-RBI single up the middle by Brock Pradere, who went 2 for 4 with two runs in the win.

Leverett then drove in Pradere and scored himself when a sinking line drive got under the glove of the diving centerfielder and rolled to the fence. Joey Crunkilton also drove in a run and Garrett Anderson plated two more as Western Oregon batted around the lineup. Singles were the key again for the GNAC’s leading team in batting average as 10 of the 11 hits went for one bag. The Wolves also drew seven walks compared to five strikeouts.

The Western Oregon bullpen didn’t give away anything with Jacob Fricke and Shawn Domke combining for two scoreless innings and only one hit allowed to preserve the eight-run lead.

Cam Walker was named the GNAC Championships Most Valuable Player, setting the tone for the Wolves’ weekend. In the tournament opener, he threw a complete game with a tournament record 10 strikeouts, preserving the bullpen. That rest he provided the team proved to be a big advantage that the Wolves had over Northwest Nazarene, who had to play two games on Thursday and had to burn some of its best arms.

Connor McCord provided the Wolves with some insurance, recording two RBI singles in the third and seventh innings. He finished 2 for 4 with a run. Pradere finished the tournament 5 for 14 at the plate with four runs, while Anderson went 3 for 9 with five RBIs.

Billy King led Northwest Nazarene with a 2-for-4 performance, hitting his second triple of the tournament and scoring a run. King finished the GNAC Championships with 14 total bases and four extra-base hits.