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Records Are Smashed In Explosive Week Of Baseball Action
The Western Oregon offense exploded for a record-setting 32 runs in Monday's victory.
The Western Oregon offense exploded for a record-setting 32 runs in Monday's victory.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

EARLY RETURNS: Western Oregon and Central Washington sit on top of the conference with matching 4-2 records in league play after the first two weeks of GNAC action.

The two teams met last weekend in Bellevue, splitting an explosive four-game series that saw a record-setting performance, a pair of one-run decisions and an extra-inning thriller in the finale. Wolves freshman Derek Maiben shined over the weekend, hitting .647 with seven RBI and five runs in the four contests.

Both teams will be back in action this week as the Wildcats head to Cowley, Wyo. to meet Montana State Billings and WOU returns home to host Concordia. Each series will begin on Saturday afternoon.  

REPRESENTATION IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: In the fourth NCBWA West Region Rankings of the season, Western Oregon is ranked at No. 6. The Wolves are off to a 7-3 start in 2019, most recently splitting a series with co-conference leader Central Washington.

UC San Diego tops the region as the month of March rolls on, earning each of the possible eight first-place votes. The Tritons are 13-4 so far this season.

IT’S AUTOMATIC: For the first time in conference history, the GNAC will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Baseball Tournament in 2019. The winner of the GNAC Championships, held May 8-10 in Portland, will receive that automatic berth. Each of the top four teams in the league standings at the culmination of the regular season will qualify for the GNAC Championships.

The defending GNAC Championships title-holders, Western Oregon, have won the tournament four times in the event’s history. Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington each enter 2019 with one tournament title.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Player

Conner Linebarger, Montana State Billings
2B • 6-2 • Sr. • Lake Oswego, Ore.

Linebarger hit .588 in the four-game series at Northwest Nazarene, going 10 for 17 with eight runs, three RBI, two doubles and a home run as the Yellowjackets went 3-1. He opened the series on Friday by going 5 for 5, tying the MSUB school record for hits in a game, and hit a solo home run in the 13-6 victory. Linebarger then had two hits in each of Saturday’s games, including one run and two RBI in the opener.

Also Nominated: Jordan Farhat (Concordia), Ryne Oshiro (Saint Martin’s), Derek Maiben (Western Oregon).

Pitcher
Dylan Barkley, Montana State Billings
LHP • 5-11 • Fr. • Missoula, Mont.

Barkley picked up his first collegiate win as he won Friday’s 4-1 nightcap against Northwest Nazarene. In six scoreless innings, Barkley allowed four hits and two walks while striking out eight. He threw 95 pitches, 57 for strikes.

Also Nominated: Trevor Huddleston (Concordia), Aaron Shoup (Saint Martin’s), Austin Crowson (Western Oregon).

AROUND THE GNAC
CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Central Washington was in action for four games last week, splitting its series against co-conference leader Western Oregon. The team is still tied for first with a 5-3 record in GNAC action.

• The club was led at the plate by third baseman Yi-Fan Pan, who led the team with four RBIs and a .400 average at the dish. Sophomore Mitch Lesmeister had a huge weekend as well, driving in four runs himself while hitting at a .375 clip.  

• Lesmeister’s .291 batting average ranks in a tie for second for the Wildcats as conference play continues. Sophomore Colton Bunt currently tops the team at a clip of .310.

• As a team, CWU is hitting .255 this season, which ranks third in the conference through six weeks of play. The team’s ability to pick up big hits in the clutch has shown early, slotting it second in the GNAC in batting average with an RBI opportunity (.298).

• The Wildcats will return to the field this weekend for their first road trip of league play. It will meet Montana State Billings in a four-game series in Cowley, Wyo., with game one scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday.

CONCORDIA
• The Cavaliers were in Lacey last week for a big series at Saint Martin’s. The team dropped its first game but took the last three to clinch the road series victory.

• Concordia was led by senior Jordan Farhat, who hit .429 with five runs and four RBIs against the Saints. The second baseman ranks second on the team with 11 runs through 17 games.

• The club’s pitching staff is slotted third in the conference with a .556 ERA. It also leads the league in batting average against at a clip of .243.

• The Cavaliers will be in action for four contests this weekend. They will return to the diamond on Saturday afternoon in Monmouth, opening up a four-game set with first-place Western Oregon.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Montana State Billings was in the Treasure Valley last week for its fourth road series in as many weeks to start the season. The club left with three victories, sweeping Friday’s doubleheader before tallying a 16-9 win one day later to clinch the series win.

• The team was led offensively by senior second baseman Conner Linebarger, who hit at a .588 average at the dish while tallying eight runs and three RBIs over the series. The performance earned Linebarger the GNAC Player of the Week award, his team’s second in the last two weeks.

• On the mound, freshman Dylan Barkley continued to shine in his first season on campus. The southpaw was named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week after going six scoreless while striking out eight in Friday’s 4-1 victory.  

• Montana State Billings is hitting .278 on the 2019 campaign. That clip has the team slotted second in the conference.

• No team in the GNAC has hit more home runs than MSUB. The team has 23 homers so far this season, which is 15 more than the next closest teams (Western Oregon, Northwest Nazarene).  

• The Yellowjackets will return to the field this week, meeting first-place Central Washington in Cowley, Wyo. for four games on Saturday and Sunday.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• The Nighthawks were back in action last week, hosting Montana State Billings for their first home series of the year. The club exploded for a 16-9 victory in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader but ultimately lost the series when it fell in another 16-9 decision later in the day.

• Northwest Nazarene was led by second baseman Parker Price. Price paced NNU with a .467 average at the plate while driving in five runs and scoring four himself.

• On the mound, senior Jesse Hilyard led his team while recording the victory in Saturday’s win. He went 6.2 innings, striking out five while allowing just two earned runs before handing the game over to his bullpen.

• Northwest Nazarene ranks second in the league in ERA at 4.57. Freshman Ben Johnson’s 2.66 ERA has him slotted third in the GNAC individually.

• The Nighthawks are back in action this weekend, taking to Lacey for a four-game series at Saint Martin’s. The club has a 7-3 road record on the 2019 campaign, a mark that leads the league as the second month of the season rolls on.  

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s was able to open up its first home series of the season with a victory but ultimately went 1-3 against Concordia last week. The Saints emerged from Saturday’s first game with a 4-2 win before dropping the final three contests in competitive fashion.

• Senior Colton Peha led the team offensively against the Cavaliers. The outfielder hit .364 in both batting average and slugging percentage to pace SMU.

• On the mound, senior Clark Streby has paced the Saints in 2019. The junior leads SMU with a 3.68 ERA in four appearances, posting one victory and 19 strikeouts.

• As a team, leads the league in ERA at 4.37. The club’s 139 strikeouts also tops the GNAC.

• The Saints will return to action this week against Northwest Nazarene for their third series of league play. The four-game set will begin on Friday at 12 p.m. in Lacey.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon took to Bellevue for its first conference series away from home last week. A dramatic four-game series resulted in two victories for the Wolves, one of which set a GNAC record for runs scored when they topped Central Washington for a 32-14 win on Monday afternoon.

• That one was truly one for the record books as the club trailed 6-3 after three innings before exploding for a 10-run frame in the fourth. That advantage grew to 26-14 through eight full, and it was a Connor McCord three-run homer in the final frame that broke CWU’s previous record of 31 runs set in 2010.  

• Freshman Derek Maiben led WOU offensively on the weekend, tallying seven RBIs while hitting at a .647 clip. Senior Patrick Chung also impressed, hitting .389 with a team-high eight RBIs in the series.

• Nevada transfer Austin Crowson shined on the bump, striking out 11 in six scoreless innings of work in Sunday’s nightcap. The southpaw issued just one walk before exiting the contest.  

• Western Oregon is hitting .305 as a team, a mark that currently leads the conference. Its .485 slugging percentage also tops the GNAC.

• The club will return to the field on Saturday to open up a four-game series with Concordia at home. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. in Monmouth.

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