Western Oregon Sets Up Finals Clash With NNU
Western Oregon left fielder Levi Cummings and center fielder Jacob Maiben converge on a fly ball during Saturday's game against MSUB. Photo by Amanda Loman.
Western Oregon left fielder Levi Cummings and center fielder Jacob Maiben converge on a fly ball during Saturday's game against MSUB. Photo by Amanda Loman.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Parker Johnson threw a complete game on 80 pitches, the offense banged out 12 hits and Western Oregon won its second straight game at the GNAC Championships with a 7-2 win over Montana State Billings on Saturday. Western Oregon will advance to the GNAC Championship game against Northwest Nazarene played later on Saturday at 2 p.m. Montana State Billings is eliminated with the loss.

Johnson was both efficient and effective, facing the minimum three batters in four separate innings. He settled in after giving up single runs in each of the first two innings, scattering seven hits for two runs, one earned, with three strikeouts and a walk.

Western Oregon set the tone with three baserunners on the game’s first three pitches. Jacob Maiben lined the first pitch from MSUB starter Connor Redmond right back up the middle before brother Derek Maiben placed a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Justyn Herzog again squared to bunt and the Yellowjackets tried to get the lead runner at third base, but the speedy Jacob Maiben beat the throw with a headlong dive to load the bases.

Redmond did his best to limit the damage, conceding a run on an RBI groundout from John Stark and striking out Jackson Holstad for the second out. Leighton Moniz followed with a grounder to third base. Yellowjackets third baseman Mason Powell nearly made an incredible play, diving to his left and throwing across the diamond from his knees, but his one-hop throw just pulled the first baseman off the bag. Moniz was safe at first and credited with a base hit and Derek Maiben came in to score to make it 2-0 Wolves.

The Yellowjackets answered in the bottom, with Mitch Winter driving in Hayden Foltz with a single to right field. Redmond escaped a huge jam in the second after WOU second baseman Spencer Weston singled and left fielder Levi Cummings reached on a throwing error. Jacob Maiben hit a scorching line drive, but it was straight at Powell, who alertly doubled off the runner at second base. Then, before throwing a pitch to the next hitter, Redmond picked off the runner at first to retire the side.

That momentum carried over as MSUB tied the game in the second. The run was unearned, as Tyler Godfrey reached on a fielding error, was moved over to second by Powell and scored on a Carson Green single.

Redmond exited the game in the fourth inning with an arm injury. He gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts in three-plus innings. Brooks Zimmer provided some much-needed bridge innings. The junior right-hander threw 3.1 innings of relief, tying his longest outing of the season, and retired the first six batters he faced in the fourth and fifth. He ran into some trouble in the sixth, however, giving up back-to-back singles to Holstad and Moniz before Weston came through with two outs, lining the first pitch up the middle to score both runners and give WOU a 4-2 lead.

The Wolves blew it open in the eighth inning. Catcher Anthony Zeller turned on a fastball from MSUB’s Tyler Elliott for a double down the left-field line. Weston then hit a hard ground ball that went through the legs of Powell to score a run. Additional unearned runs scored when the Maiben brothers hit back-to-back RBI singles.

The Wolves will have a quick turnaround to face No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene in a winner-take-all game for the GNAC Championship. Those two teams split their regular-season meetings 4-4. In their prior meeting during this tournament, Western Oregon won 4-1.

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