Non-Conference Play Continues In GNAC Baseball
Northwest Nazarene outfielder Jesse Hilyard hit his first home run of the season at the Dixie State Classic.
Northwest Nazarene outfielder Jesse Hilyard hit his first home run of the season at the Dixie State Classic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

DIXIE STATE CLASSIC: Montana State Billings and Northwest Nazarene both traveled to St. George, Utah to take part in the Dixie State Classic last weekend. The Yellowjackets played their first five games of the season there, finishing 2-3, while Northwest Nazarene split four games.

Both teams opened the classic with victories over Holy Names in two drastically different games on Friday. The Crusaders took part in a slugfest, defeating Holy Names 10-9. Outfielder Jesse Hilyard finished the game 3 for 5 with three runs batted in, two runs scored, a double and a home run. Fellow outfielder Josh Hatfield was 3 for 4 with two runs batted in, a run scored and a stolen base. With a 5-4 lead heading into the seventh inning, both teams scored five runs over the final three innings, as the Crusaders held onto the win.

In the Yellowjackets opening game, it was a much different story as pitcher Tanner Johnson shut down the Holy Names bats with eight shutout innings. He allowed just four hits and one walk, while striking out five batters. He was named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week for his efforts. Adam Cox closed out the game for Johnson, picking up his first save in a perfect inning. Dixie State proved to be the toughest test for both teams as they finished a combined 0-4 against the Red Storm.

WOLVES WITH ANOTHER SERIES SPLIT: Western Oregon began its non-conference slate of games early this year and will be the first to end after wrapping up a four-game series against Cal State East Bay. The Wolves do not play again until the beginning of conference play, a four-game series at Concordia on Sat., Mar. 5. Western Oregon leaned heavily on its pitching in the series split against CSUEB, allowing a combined six runs in the first three games before giving up seven in the series finale. Starting pitchers Garrett Alvarez and Darrien Moran earned the wins for the Wolves, while fellow starting pitcher Brady Miller threw six innings with just two runs allowed in a no-decision.

SAINTS & CAVALIERS OPEN SEASON: Saint Martin’s and Concordia played their first games of the season last week. The Saints earned a home split against Whitman college, while the Cavaliers fell in three games to Lewis-Clark State.

Saint Martin’s won game one 12-7 behind a huge offensive performance overall. Outfielder Alec Hagerman was a perfect 4-4 with four RBI, three runs scored and two doubles. Brandon Witherspoon also had two doubles in a 3 for 5 effort, driving in two runs. In game two, the Saints allowed 12 combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings, falling 14-1.

Concordia’s took three tough losses to start its Division II run, falling by a combined five runs in three games. The Cavaliers suffered two one-run losses in the opening two games of the series, falling 5-4 and 4-3. Pitcher Mike Martinez took a hard-luck loss in game one, allowing just one run in five innings out of the bullpen. He struck out six batters.

TOP PERFORMERS: Montana State Billings outfielder Luke Reinschmidt helped the Yellowjackets sweep the GNAC weekly awards with his hitting performance. Reinschmidt drove in eight runs, finishing the Dixie State Classic with 15 total bases and a .625 slugging percentage. He was 8 for 24 with three runs scored, two doubles, one triple and a home run… Saint Martin’s Alec Hagerman hit .714 in two games, finishing 5 for 7 at the plate. He scored three runs and drove in five with two doubles in the Saints’ split against Whitman College… Concordia catcher Kyle Henderson had a .375 batting average in three games against Lewis-Clark State. He finished with one double, one RBI, one walk and 13 putouts and two assists behind the plate for the Cavaliers… Western Oregon pitcher Garrett Alvarez threw a complete game against Cal State East Bay, advancing his record to 2-0. He allowed just one run on five hits with no walks and six strikeouts…Concordia pitcher Harrison McGhee allowed one unearned run on no hits and one walk in three innings. He made the start for the Cavaliers, receiving a no-decision… Northwest Nazarene relief pitcher Ryan Nyborg recorded two saves in two appearances, pitching 3.2 innings. He allowed just one run and struck out three batters for the week… Montana State Billings relief pitcher Adam Cox made the most of his first collegiate at-bat, cracking a solo home run. The sophomore also made two appearances on the mound, picking up a save in two appearances.

WILDCATS COME UP SHORT IN SEASON OPENER: After falling behind 5-0 early at Lewis-Clark State on Feb. 10, Central Washington’s late rally came up short, falling 6-4. Designated hitter Jake Levin drove home two runs in the loss on Wednesday, finishing 1 for 3 at the plate with a double and run scored. The Wildcats used eight different pitchers in the game, with no player throwing more than two innings.

Central Washington was the lone team to be out of action last week having played just one game so far this season. They return to the diamond on Sat., Feb. 20 at Corban in Salem, Ore for a pair of games.

ON THE DIAMOND: Five of six GNAC teams will be on the diamond this weekend, with the exception of Western Oregon. Northwest Nazarene opens up a four-game series on Thursday at Azusa Pacific. Montna State Billings will play three games at Metro State in Denver, Colo. Saint Martin’s will play four games in St. George, Utah, taking on Minot State and Dixie State each for a pair. Central Washington will play two against Corban and Concordia will play a four-game series against Sonoma State in Rohnert Park, Calif. Western Oregon next plays on Sat., Mar. 5 at Concordia for the opening weekend of GNAC play.

Luke Reinschmidt
(Montana State Billings, OF, 5-11, Sr., Billings, Mont. – Wayland Baptist Univ.): Reinschmidt drove in eight runs, finished with 15 total bases and had a .625 slugging percentage as the Yellowjackets won two games at the Dixie State Classic. He went 3 for 6 with a bases-clearing double in the Yellowjackets’ final game of the tournament against the host Red Storm. Also Nominated: Alec Hagerman (Saint Martin’s), Josh Hatfield (Northwest Nazarene), Kyle Henderson (Concordia).

Tanner Johnson
(Montana State Billings, RHP, 6-3, Sr., Belgrade, Mont. – Salt Lake CC): Johnson threw eight shutout innings in his first start of the season, a 3-0 win over Holy Names on Friday at the Dixie State Classic. His ledger included four hits allowed with one walk and five strikeouts. Johnson allowed just two base runners past first base. Also Nominated: Garrett Alvarez (Western Oregon), Torin Dooley (Saint Martin’s), Harrison McGhee (Concordia), Ryan Nyborg (Northwest Nazarene).

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