Postseason Push Reaches Fever Pitch For GNAC Baseball
Yellowjacket senior Jalen Garcia was named GNAC Player of the Week after leading his team to three victories over the Nighthawks last week.
Yellowjacket senior Jalen Garcia was named GNAC Player of the Week after leading his team to three victories over the Nighthawks last week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Just two weeks remain in baseball's regular season as the conference's teams continue to position themselves for next month's GNAC Championships. All six teams remain alive for a postseason berth heading into the last week of April with Montana State Billings sitting in first place.

The playoff picture will start to clear up this week and the drama figures to be high as the clubs occupying the top two places in the standings hit the road for the weekend.


Jalen Garcia, Montana State Billings
OF • 6-0 • Sr. •  Billings, Mont.

Garcia led the Yellowjackets with a .579 batting average in the series win over Northwest Nazarene, finishing with 11 hits, five runs, four RBI, a double, two triples and a .842 slugging percentage. Garcia went 3 for 5 in Friday’s opener and scored two runs. Before going 1 for 4 in the nightcap. He also went 3 for 5 in Saturday’s opener, which included an RBI triple that opened scoring, and closed by going 4 for 5 with a two-RBI triple in the nightcap.

Also Nominated: Isaiah Hatch (Concordia), Austin Feist (Saint Martin’s), Collin Runge (Western Oregon).

Mickey Walker, Saint Martin’s
RHP • 6-2 • Sr. • Bothell, Wash.

Walker posted a pair of solid relief appearances to help the Saints to a split with Concordia in Portland. In 5.1 innings, Walker allowed just three hits and struck out 11. Walker threw four innings of solid relief in a no-decision in Friday’s 6-5, 11-inning loss, allowing just two hits while striking out nine. Walker closed the weekend by earning his sixth save of the season in Saturday’s 5-1 nightcap victory, allowing just one hit and striking out two in 1.1 innings of work.

Also Nominated: Kaleb Jones (Concordia), Andrew Schleusner (Montana State Billings), Dylan Myers (Western Oregon).


SWEEP FOR THE SENIORS: Western Oregon sent its seniors out in style last week, sweeping its final home series of the season against Central Washington to earn the title as GNAC Team of the Week. The Wolves were able to clutch up when needed, taking both the first and last games of the set in one-run fashion.

The team's most dominant victory came in Saturday's first game, where WOU rode a three-RBI outing from first baseman Connor McCord to a 9-4 win. Western Oregon sits in second place in the GNAC standings with two weeks remaining.  

REPRESENTATION IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: In the ninth NCBWA West Region Rankings of the season, Montana State Billings is ranked at No. 7 while Western Oregon follows closely behind at No. 9. The two teams are slotted first and second in the GNAC standings.

UC San Diego tops the region, earning each of the possible eight first-place votes. The Tritons are 28-9 so far this season.

ON DECK: Montana State Billings and Western Oregon will each be on the road this week as the conference's top two teams look to remain in the hunt for a regular-season title. The Yellowjackets will take to Ellensburg to face Central Washington while the Wolves will be in Portland for a battle with in-state foe Concordia.

Elsewhere in GNAC action, Northwest Nazarene will host Saint Martin's in the penultimate week of regular season play. The Saints took the first series of the season against the Nighthawks back in March.  

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.