Opening Weekend Of GNAC Play Commences With March
Tanner Johnson helped lead the Yellowjackets to a 6-3 record in non-conference play with a 2-0 record and 0.59 ERA.
Tanner Johnson helped lead the Yellowjackets to a 6-3 record in non-conference play with a 2-0 record and 0.59 ERA.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the conclusion of February, the non-conference baseball season ends while GNAC play just gets underway. Montana State Billings travels to Central Washington, Northwest Nazarene hosts Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon visits Concordia in the opening week of GNAC baseball.

NON-CONFERENCE LEADERS: Montana State Billings, the reigning GNAC regular season champions, finished with the top record of 6-3 in non-conference play. The Yellowjackets ended February with a four-game sweep of Metro State. They went 2-3 in their season opening trip to the Dixie State Classic, where they were 2-1 against Holy Names and 0-2 versus Dixie State.

Senior outfielder Luke Reinschmidt leads the Yellowjackets through their first nine games. He has a .432 batting average in 37 at-bats, hitting three home runs with 16 runs batted in and a .811 slugging percentage. Casey Merritt leads the team with 11 runs scored and Zach Robinson owns a .480 batting average.

On the mound, senior pitcher Tanner Johnson is 2-0 with a 0.59 earned run average. He has recorded 16 strikeouts with just one walk in 15.1 innings pitched. Cody Cooper is also 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA and 18 strike outs.

Western Oregon was the first to start and finish non-conference play, ending with a 5-4 record. The Wolves had two four-game series splits against West Region foes Azusa Pacific and Cal State East Bay. They also picked up a victory over Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Pitching has been strong early on for the Wolves with a 3.30 team ERA. Sophomore Brady Miller owns a 1.64 ERA in two starts, with a 1-0 record. Garretty Alvarez is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a complete game.

LED BY LOOMIS: Northwest Nazarene exits February with an even record of 5-5. They grabbed a win versus Corban to start the season, followed by two against Holy Names and two over Azusa Pacific. The Crusaders’ big story of the early season was pitcher Colton Loomis’ seven-inning no-hitter against Azusa Pacific on Feb. 19. The no-no was both the fifth in GNAC history and Crusader history. Loomis has been Northwest Nazarene’s best pitcher in his other appearances, recording a 0.96 ERA and a 2-1 record in 18.2 innings.

WILDCATS WRAP UP FEBRUARY ON HIGH NOTE: Central Washington picked up two wins in a three game series at Academy of Art in San Francisco, Calif to end February and their slate of non-conference games. The Wildcats were victorious 7-2 and 8-6, but fell in the final game of the series 4-3 in 11 innings.

Designated hitter Jake Levin was named the GNAC Player of the Week after one of the top single-game performances this season. In game two against Academy of Art, Levin finished 3 for 5 with three home runs and six runs batted. The Wildcats needed all six runs as they were victorious 8-6. The three home run performance was the first in Central Washington program history.

CONFERENCE SEASON BRINGS FRESH START: Saint Martin's and Concordia each ended non-conference play with sub .500 records. The Saints finished at 3-7, while the Cavaliers went 2-8. The Saint's were led by their offense, scoring 72 runs in 10 games. Catcher Zach Raczok hit .345 with two home runs and 11 RBI in nine games played. Brandon Witherspoon led the team with 11 runs scored and 13 hits, while hitting .351 with two home runs and seven RBI.

In contrasting style, the Cavaliers were led by their pitching staff that recorded a combined 4.19 ERA through 10 games. Mike Martinez threw 12 innings out of the bullpen in three appearances, recording a 2.25 ERA and a 1-1 record. Colton Krueger owns a 3.86 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched, with nine strikeouts to just one walk.

GNAC play commences with Montana State Billings at Central Washington, scheduled to begin on Friday at 12 p.m. Saint Martin's visits Northwest Nazarene also on Friday with a 3 p.m. first pitch, while Western Oregon and Concordia begin on Saturday at 1 p.m.