Wildcats Remain On Top After Rain-Shortened Week
Central Washington pitcher McKenzie Gaul has helped lead Central Washington to first place in the GNAC as the Wildcats rank second in batting average and ERA.
Central Washington pitcher McKenzie Gaul has helped lead Central Washington to first place in the GNAC as the Wildcats rank second in batting average and ERA.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WILDCATS STAY ATOP GNAC DESPITE WEATHER: Central Washington defeated Concordia in a rain shortened two-game series last weekend, helping the Wildcats remain on top of the GNAC standings with a 5-1 conference record.

Due to weather, the series was moved from Portland to Ellensburg, where the two teams were able to play out two games on Saturday. The Wildcats took both contests over the Cavaliers, 8-5 and 6-2.

The Wildcats fell behind early in game one, but responded with three runs in the sixth inning to take a 5-2 lead. In the top of the eighth, Concordia scored three runs of their own to tie the ball game up, but in the bottom half of the inning the Wildcats answered with three more runs to take the 8-5 victory. Designated hitter Christian Heideger hit a two-run home run for the Cavaliers to tie the game up in the eighth inning. Shortstop Jonathan Dailey retook the lead for Central Washington with a RBI triple, followed by outfielder Darren Honeysett’s two-run homer to extend the lead back to three runs. Mckenzie Gaul made the start for the Wildcats, throwing 3.2 innings with two runs allowed and four strikeouts. Connor Jones picked up his second win of the season in relief and CJ Gettman recorded his third save with a perfect ninth inning and two strikeouts.

In game two, the Wildcats got off to the quick start with three runs in the first two innings and held a 6-0 lead through five. Jake Levin started the game for Central Washington, going five innings with no runs allowed and six strikeouts. He advanced his record to 3-0 on the season as the bullpen held onto the 6-2 victory. Catcher Ryan Malone hit a two-run home run while Dailey and first baseman Justin Adams each finished 3 for 3.

The Wildcats have used a combination of hitting and pitching to lead the GNAC through their first six games. They are ranked second in both batting average (.279) and earned run average (3.36). Levin has been impressive thus far at the plate and on the mound, leading the team in home runs (3), runs batted in (11), slugging percentage (.647), innings pitched (19.2), strikeouts (17) and wins (3). The Wildcats are receiving the most votes from the GNAC in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association West Region Poll with nine.

CRUSADERS & YELLOWJACKETS BATTLE TO SPLIT: Northwest Nazarene and Montana State Billings played the only full series of the weekend, starting their series on Friday. The teams split the four games with each winning one on both Friday and Saturday.

The Crusaders won game one behind an offensive explosion in a ten-run sixth inning, including three home runs. Second baseman Tyler Davis led off with a solo homer, followed by three-run home runs from first baseman Brett Nielsen and outfielder Ryan Johnson. Davis finished the game 2 for 4 with four RBI and outfielder Josh Hatfield went 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBI.

The Crusaders handed MSUB pitcher Tanner Johnson his first loss of the season. Johnson is still fourth in the GNAC with a 2.62 ERA. Jaramy Jacobs earned the win for Northwest Nazarene, going seven innings with three earned runs allowed and nine strikeouts. He moved his record to 2-2 on the season.

In game two, the Yellowjackets held the Crusaders’ bats much quieter, allowing just two runs on four hits to hold onto a 3-2 victory. Matt Hape earned the victory for MSUB, pitching 4.1 innings with two runs allowed and five strikeouts. Jared Winslow threw a perfect 2.2 innings out of the bullpen, recording his first save.

Luke Reinschmidt’s third inning solo home run proved to be the difference in the one-run victory. He continued his hot hitting with a huge game three, leading Montana State Billings to an 11-2 victory. Reinschmidt finished 5 for 6 at the plate with four RBI, three runs scored, a double, home run and stolen base. His performance earned him the GNAC Player of the Week award for the second time this season. Reinschmidt enters the week leading the GNAC in hits (23) and RBI (23) and is ranked second in home runs (5) and third in stolen bases (5).

Cody Cooper advanced his record to 3-0 in the victory for the Yellowjackets, throwing a complete game with 10 strikeouts. He allowed just two runs, one earned, five hits and two walks.

In the final game of the series, the Crusaders returned the favor with a strong pitching performance. Justin Pilgrim threw five innings with one run allowed and Blake Mitchell closed out the game with two perfect innings. The Crusaders won 3-1 as Pilgrim advanced to 2-0 with Mitchell nailing down his first save. Catcher Andrew Helmstadter’s two-run double in the fourth inning gave the Crusaders the lead for good.

WOLVES REMAIN AT .500 WITH SERIES-SHORTENED SPLIT VS. SAINTS: Weather once again played a factor in the Western Oregon Saint Martin’s series, as the teams were only able to play two games. The series, schedule to be played in Monmouth, was moved to the University of Portland’s Joe Etzel Field.

Western Oregon won game one in dominant fashion behind Brady Miller’s seven shutout innings. Miller earned the GNAC’s Pitcher of the Week award after advancing to 3-0 with eight strikeouts. He leads the GNAC with an impressive 0.69 ERA in 26 innings pitched. The sophomore has recorded 28 strikeouts and hitters are batting just .138 off him in four starts. Outfielder Cody Sullivan led the team offensively, hitting 3 for 4 with one run, two RBI and two doubles as the Wolves won 9-0.

The Wolves looked well on their way to a doubleheader sweep on Saturday, leading 4-2 through six innings. The Saints, however, did not go away as they rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take the 5-4 victory. Outfielder Austin Feist scored the game-winning run on a passed ball. Earlier in the inning, Feist closed the lead to one after a RBI single down the left field line. Second baseman Kaelen Hirashiki tied the ball game up with a single. Mickey Walker earned the win for the Saints, pitching a complete game with six strikeouts and just two earned runs allowed. Western Oregon’s Darrien Moran was solid on the other side, allowing three runs, two earned, in six innings.

Western Oregon enters the week with a 3-3 conference record and are receiving one vote in the NCBWA regional poll. The Saints are now 2-4 in GNAC play after the comeback victory over the Wolves.

Luke Reinschmidt
(Montana State Billings, OF, 5-11, Sr., Billings, Mont. – Wayland Baptist Univ.): Reinschmidt finished with six hits, six RBI, a double, four runs scored and 13 total bases in the Yellowjackets’ four-game series with Central Washington. He topped his series by going 5 for 6 with a home run, a double and four RBI in an 11-2 win over the Crusaders on Saturday. Reinschmidt also had a .444 on-base percentage in the series and was 2 for 2 in stolen base attempts. Also Nominated: Jonathan Dailey (Central Washington), Adam Helmstadter (Northwest Nazarene), Brandon Witherspoon (Saint Martin’s).

Brady Miller
(Western Oregon, P, 6-2, 175, So., Gilbert, Ariz. – Camp Verde): Miller allowed just two hits and four walks and struck out eight in seven innings of work, earning his third win of the season in the Wolves’ 9-0 shutout of Saint Martin’s on Friday. Also Nominated: Jaramy Jacobs (Northwest Nazarene), Mickey Walker (Saint Martin’s), Jared Winslow (Montana State Billings).