Complete Games, First Wins Lead GNAC Opening Week
Concordia pitcher Harrison McGhee helped lead Concordia to its first GNAC win with a complete game shutout in a 2-0 victory over Western Oregon.
Concordia pitcher Harrison McGhee helped lead Concordia to its first GNAC win with a complete game shutout in a 2-0 victory over Western Oregon.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

WILDCATS HOLD ON IN TIGHTLY PLAYED GAMES: In the first weekend of GNAC play, Central Washington hosted Montana State Billings for a four-game series, with each game decided by one or two runs. The Wildcats took three of four games over the reigning GNAC regular season champions.

In game one, Central Washington was able to knock out Yellowjacket ace Tanner Johnson after just 3.2 innings, allowing the Wildcats to capitalize on the bullpen. They scored four runs in the sixth through eighth innings to take the lead, and CJ Gettman closed out the game, 8-6, to record his second save. First baseman Randy Fuller hit a solo home run in the seventh inning and outfielder Reid Martinez drove in three runs. Designated hitter Adam Cox hit a home run with two RBI for the Yellowjackets.

The Wildcats swept the day one doubleheader with an 8-7 victory, holding off a Yellowjackets rally in the seventh inning. Starting pitcher Jake Levin picked up his second victory, throwing six innings while allowing three runs, two earned, with six strikeouts. Travis Cook recorded a one out save with runners left on first and second base. Martinez led the offense again, finishing 3 for 4 with four RBI. Montana State Billings Casey Merritt went 2 for 4 with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI.

The Yellowjackets picked up their lone victory of the series in game three, coming from behind for a 7-5 win. They scored four runs in eighth inning, to reclaim the lead after giving up four runs in the seventh. Lee Busto picked up a one out victory and Adam Cox recorded a two-inning save for the Yellowjackets.

Game four of the series was a pitching duel between MSUB’s Tanner Watson and CWU’s Justin Adams. Watson threw 5.2 innings, but allowed his only two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. Two runs were all the support Adams needed, as he finished a complete game victory, throwing seven innings with one run allowed.

FIRST GNAC VICTORIES: Concordia drew a tough test in their first GNAC games, hosting reigning GNAC champions and preseason favorite Western Oregon. Despite scoring a combined six runs in four games, the Cavaliers came away with two victories.

The Cavaliers shut out Western Oregon on two different occasions, both in games two of the doubleheaders. Harrison McGhee was almost perfect in game two of the series, shutting down Western Oregon for his first victory of the season. McGhee struck out eight batters, allowed two hits and faced just two more than the minimum. The Cavaliers scored both their runs in the first inning. Western Oregon pitcher Darrien Moran also threw a complete game, allowing just the two runs over six innings.

In game four of the series, Concordia received another impressive start from Austin Hadley, who allowed no runs on three hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts. His counterpart, Gary Steindorf, was just about as dominant, pitching his own complete game with six strikeouts and just one run allowed for the Wolves. Concordia scored the only run in the bottom of the sixth inning when third baseman Jarren Goddard singled to left field to score pinch-runner Conner Jackson.

Western Oregon won games one and two with solid pitching of their own, but with more help from the bats. Brady Miller threw eight shutout innings in game one, striking out nine batters. The Wolves won 9-2, led offensively by Trevor Podratz’s home run and two RBI, and Kyle Vanderkin and Brandon Oliver’s 3 for 5 days. Miller advanced his record to 2-0.

The Wolves took game three, 4-1, behind Garrett Alvarez’s one-run complete game. He struck out six batters, allowing just five hits. Podratz launched his second home run of the season and in as many days.

CRUSADERS CRUISE TO FIRST SERIES WIN: Despite falling in the first game of the series to Saint Martin’s, the Northwest Nazarene pitching staff settled down and the bats came alive to lead the Crusaders to the series victory.

The Saints opened their GNAC season with a 10-6 victory over NNU. After trailing 6-2 through five innings, the Saints scored eight unanswered runs over the final four innings to take the game. Torin Dooley threw a complete game, allowing six runs with five strikeouts and just one walk. Designated hitter Adam Eskil hit a grand slam home run in the sixth inning to tie the ball game up. Tyler Davis and Jesse Hilyard each hit home runs early for the Crusaders.

After falling in the first game, the Crusaders countered with two-time GNAC Pitcher of the Week and owner of a no-hitter this season, Colton Loomis. The senior right hander continued to baffle hitters, throwing a complete game in the 8-0 victory. Loomis allowed just three hits and one walk, striking out nine batters. Offensively, the Crusaders were being shut out as well by Saints’ pitcher Josh Sontag, but scored all eight runs in the sixth inning.

The bats completely awoke in game three of the series for Northwest Nazarene, as they piled on for a 17-7 victory. Davis went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double, a run scored and three RBI. Third baseman Kyle Redford went 3 for 4 as well, with three runs scored and three RBI. The Crusaders hit four home runs, with Hilyard, Blake Adkins and Ryan Johnson each hitting one. Johnson finished just a double short of the cycle. As a team, the Crusaders finished 21 for 41 with seven walks and nine extra base hits.

Justin Pilgrim led the Crusaders to a 7-2 victory in the final game of the series, throwing 5.2 innings with two runs allowed. He received a no-decision for his efforts, but helped keep the team in the ball game until the bats awoke for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Relief pitcher Ryan Nyborg picked up his first victory of the season out of the bullpen. Catcher Andrew Helmstadter finished 2 for 4 with two runs scored, a double and a triple. Designated hitter Spencer Pollock drove in two runs.


Reid Martinez
(Central Washington, OF, 6-0, 188, Sr., Seattle, Wash. – Roosevelt): Martinez went 6 for 10 with eight RBI in three games as the Wildcats took three of four in their GNAC season-opening series with Montana State Billings. He finished with three RBI in the opening game on Saturday, two on a single in the third inning, and went 3 for 4 with four RBI in the nightcap. Also Nominated: Adam Eskil (Saint Martin’s), Adam Helmstadter (Northwest Nazarene), Kevin Toon (Montana State Billings).

Harrison McGhee
(Concordia, RHP, 5-11, 205, Sr., Ramona, Calif. - Ramona): McGhee hurled a complete-game two-hitter on Saturday, giving the Cavaliers their first GNAC win, 2-0, in the nightcap against Western Oregon. In seven innings, McGhee did not walk anyone, struck out eight and faced just two batters above the minimum. Also Nominated: Justin Adams (Central Washington), Cody Cooper (Montana State Billings), Torin Dooley (Saint Martin’s), Colton Loomis (Northwest Nazarene).