Complete Effort From Saints Staff Stave Off Nighthawks
The Saint Martin's staff gave the Saints plenty to cheer on Thursday afternoon. Photo by Ellie Parker.
The Saint Martin's staff gave the Saints plenty to cheer on Thursday afternoon. Photo by Ellie Parker.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – With both its seasons on the line, Northwest Nazarene and Saint Martin's met in the first elimination game of the 2019 GNAC Baseball Championships on Thursday afternoon. 

It was the Saints who were ultimately able to stave off elimination, using a dominant five-man effort from its pitching staff to earn a 3-2 victory in Portland.

All three SMU runs came in the fourth inning as senior Austin Feist lifted his fifth home run of the season over the Porter Park fence and across the street out in left field.

The GNAC leader in saves was credited with the victory as senior Mickey Walker (3-3) came on in relief in the top of the third. Walker threw 1.2 innings of scoreless ball, striking out one without allowing a hit.

While his opponent relied on a steady bullpen, Nighthawks starter Cooper Webster went the distance in Thursday's game. Webster allowed just two earned runs in eight innings on the bump, striking out six while scattering four hits.

His offense gave NNU an early lead as nine-hole hitter Michael Hults drove in a run with an RBI single in the top of the second.

The score remained 1-0 until the fourth, when Isaac Hegamin and Aaron Renaud both reached safely to start the inning. That brought Feist to the plate and the outfielder promptly delivered, belting a 2-0 pitch for the contest's winning runs. 

"He kind of came at me with a couple of off-speed pitches on the first and second pitch," said Feist. "I was seeing it well and then he gave me a fastball and elevated it. I was able to put a good swing on it and it got all of the barrel."

Northwest Nazarene did threaten with a ninth-inning rally, loading the bases after Saints senior Ryan Dorney had the Nighthawks down to the final strike of their season with two outs and no one on. Dorney would escape, however, inducing a lineout to centerfield to seal the deal on a 3-2 victory.

The victory advances Saint Martin's to Thursday's second elimination game and puts them just one win away from reaching the championship series. The club will now face either Montana State Billings or Western Oregon in that game, scheduled for a 7 p.m. first pitch.