Play Ball: Nighthawks Tested Early To Kick Off Season
Blake McFadden pitched 2.1 one-hit innings of relief to earn the win in the first game of Northwest Nazarene's 2022 season.
Blake McFadden pitched 2.1 one-hit innings of relief to earn the win in the first game of Northwest Nazarene's 2022 season.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The first weekend of the 2022 baseball season is in the books, and all five GNAC programs got four games under their belts to kick off this season’s action on the diamond. Four teams finished the week at 2-2, but not all 2-2 records are created equal.

Although they certainly would have preferred to win more, Northwest Nazarene can’t be disappointed with a four-game road split at No. 8 Azusa Pacific. A year after their historic run to the Division II National Championships, the No. 13 Nighthawks challenged themselves right off the bat by facing a Cougars squad that they had to beat in the NCAA West Regionals in 2021.

A big reason for the split was NNU’s Moore brothers. Colton Moore, appearing as the designated hitter in the Nighthawks’ first game of the season, drew a one-out walk in the ninth inning before advancing to third on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt. He came around to score on another error, giving NNU a 4-3 lead that was the game’s final tally.

Colton’s brother, sophomore utility player Walker Moore, earned the season’s first GNAC Player of the Week award. After entering the opening game as a pinch hitter, Walker made an immediate difference with a single and a double in the game’s final two innings. In the series’ third game, appearing in his first start as the designated hitter, Moore delivered a massive, tie-breaking three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to catapult NNU into a 7-3 victory. Overall, Walker Moore went 4-for-7 on the week with four RBI.

Central Washington and College of Idaho played four slugfests in Caldwell, combining to score 73 runs in four games. Wildcats catcher Austin Ohland had a hot start to the season, batting .438 with seven RBI and ripping six doubles.

Montana State Billings received a quality Opening Day start from GNAC Pitcher of the Week Dylan Barkley, who threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out nine. Unfortunately, Barkley was stuck with a no-decision in a 6-2 loss, but the Yellowjackets woke up to average 11 runs per game for the rest of the series, including a 19-8 romp on Sunday.


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Walker Moore, Northwest Nazarene
IF • 5-10 • So. • Provo, Utah
Moore went 4 for 7 with four RBI, a double and a home run as the Nighthawks went 2-1 with No. 25 ranked Azusa Pacific. He entered in the eighth inning of Friday’s series opener and proceeded to go 2 for 2 with a double and scored the winning run in the ninth in the 4-3 victory. In Saturday’s second game, Moore went 2 for 4 in his first start of the season as the designated hitter, breaking a 2-2 tie with a three-run homer in the ninth en route to the 7-3 win.

Also Nominated:
Austin Ohland (Central Washington), Dominick Buso (Montana State Billings), Mark Steward (Saint Martin’s), Spencer Weston (Western Oregon).

Dylan Barkley, Montana State Billings
LHP • 5-11 • Jr. • Missoula, Mont.
Barkley was just short of perfect in making the first start of the season for the Yellowjackets at Cal State LA on Friday. In five innings, Barkley allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out nine in the eventual 6-2 loss. Barkley threw 94 pitches, 62 for strikes.

Also Nominated: Josh Touhey (Central Washington), Max Holtzclaw (Northwest Nazarene), Ryan Driscoll (Saint Martin’s), Arturo Alvarez (Western Oregon).


• Central Washington split its four games at College of Idaho, with each time winning one game of a pair of doubleheaders. On Saturday, the Wildcats won the opener 9-5 before losing the second game 15-3, then on Sunday the Wildcats won 12-11 before losing the nightcap 10-8.
• Catcher Austin Ohland led the Wildcats with a .438 batting average, hitting six doubles and knocking in seven runs. Ohland laced two doubles in each of the three games he appeared in, driving in three runs in Saturday’s win and two runs apiece in Friday’s win and Saturday’s loss. Ohland currently leads the GNAC with an .813 slugging percentage.
• Ohland recorded his RBI because Central Washington’s table setters were nearly always on base. Left fielder Zach Berryman went 7 for 17 in the four games with three walks. Center fielder Adam Fahsel went 7 for 18 with two walks and three doubles. Berryman and Fahsel share the GNAC lead with six runs scored.
• Junior Josh Touhey started Central’s best pitching effort in the season opener, going five innings and giving up two runs on four hits, walking one and striking out one. After Touhey departed, senior Jake Bradley nailed down a four-inning save, giving up three runs on six hits.
• After a week, Central Washington leads the conference with a .327 batting average, 50 hits and 27 strikeouts on offense. On the mound, they have a team ERA of 9.53 and lead the GNAC with two saves.
• Central Washington will play a five-game series at Cal State San Bernardino. The Wildcats and Coyotes will square off twice on Friday, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday.

• Montana State Billings split on the road at Cal State LA. The ‘Jackets took a 6-2 loss on Friday in the series opener, then split a doubleheader Saturday by winning the first game 9-7 and losing the second game 15-5. They rescued the split on Sunday with a 19-8 victory in the finale in which the Yellowjackets matched a school record by scoring 10 runs in the second inning.
• The opening-day loss was no fault of starter and GNAC Pitcher of the Week Dylan Barkley. Barkley was in control for five shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out nine, but the Yellowjackets bullpen allowed six runs in the sixth inning after he exited. After his first start, Barkley is tied for the conference lead in ERA (0.00) and strikeouts (nine).
• Dominick Buso got off to a hot start at the dish, going 5-for-10 to take the early GNAC lead with a .500 batting average. He did most of his damage in Sunday’s blowout win, collecting three hits and three RBI. In MSUB’s explosive second inning, Buso singled to drive in two runs before a third run scored on the play after a throwing error.
• Catcher Ethan Babcock-Barrie hit .429 for the week with a team-high five RBI. Babcock-Barrie recorded a two-run double in both Friday’s game and Sunday’s game.
• Montana State Billings leads the conference with a .449 on-base percentage. They have drawn 33 walks, which is the most in Division II. At the individual level, first baseman James Anderson leads Division II with eight walks, while outfielder Carson Green is second in Division II with five times being hit by a pitch. They are batting .271, second in the GNAC, and have an 8.44 ERA on the mound.
• The Yellowjackets go back down to California for four games against Cal Poly Ponoma, playing one on Thursday, one on Friday and two on Saturday.

• Northwest Nazarene split a four-game series with No. 8 Azusa Pacific in a rematch of the 2021 NCAA West Regionals. The Nighthawks took the series opener 4-3 on Friday, then split a doubleheader on Saturday, losing the first game 12-1 and winning the second game 7-3. They lost the series finale 8-2 on Sunday.
• Walker Moore earned the GNAC Player of the Week award for his clutch hitting in the APU series. He went 2-for-2 with a single and a double in Friday’s win despite not entering the game until the eighth inning. In Saturday’s win, he broke open a ballgame that was tied 2-2 with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth that swung all the momentum to NNU in an eventual 7-3 win. Moore went 4-for-10 over four games with a double, home run and four RBI.
• Shortstop Parker Price was the only GNAC player with multiple homers in the season’s first week. Price hit first-inning solo shots in both Friday’s win and Sunday’s loss, while adding an RBI single in Saturday’s second game. Price finished the week 4-for-16 with the two home runs and four RBI.
• Spencer Schwehr was NNU’s best starting pitcher of the week. Schwehr gave up one run on one hit and struck out six in five innings of work in Saturday’s second game. The Nighthawks’ ninth-inning heroics meant both the pitching wins went to Northwest Nazarene’s relief aces, however. Blake McFadden pitched 2.1 innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts to earn the win on Friday. Max Holtzclaw came on in relief of Schwehr and pitched four shutout innings to close Saturday’s win.
• Northwest Nazarene has a .197 team batting average and leads the conference with four home runs. Their team ERA of 5.56 is also best in the GNAC.
• The national polls have not been updated this year, so NNU remains with their preseason rankings of No. 13 in the NCBWA Poll and No. 7 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll.
• Northwest Nazarene has four road games against Point Loma this week, playing one on Thursday, two on Friday and one on Saturday.

• Saint Martin’s lost all four to No. 25 Chico State. The Saints lost 13-0 on Thursday, 24-4 and 8-1 on Friday and 14-3 on Saturday.
• Left fielder Griffin Williams and catcher/designated hitter Mark Steward paced the Saints offensively. Williams went 6 for 13 with a double and two RBI while Steward went 5 for 11 with two doubles.
• The Saints’ best chance to steal a game from the nationally-ranked Wildcats was on Sunday. Aaron Renaud had a first-inning home run and shortstop Ryne Oshiro hit a two-run single in the fourth inning to give the Saints a 3-1 lead. Starting pitcher Finnley Butler was solid, giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits in four innings, but Chico State turned the tables in the later innings to pull away.
• The Saints have a .248 team batting average and a 15.00 team ERA. They rank fourth in Division II with six turned double plays.
• Saint Martin’s will hop around the Evergreen State to get their four games in this week. The Saints will play at Puget Sound on Friday and at Pacific Lutheran for a doubleheader on Saturday. Saint Martin’s will become the first GNAC team to play at home when they host Puget Sound on Sunday.

• Western Oregon split four games with Fresno Pacific. The Wolves won the GNAC’s first game of the season with a 13-5 triumph on Thursday, then took the first game on Friday 6-3, but were unable to get a series-clinching win, falling 13-0 in the second game Friday and 6-5 on Saturday.
• Spencer Weston was WOU’s top hitter, going 5-for-12 with two doubles and three RBI. Weston had two RBI in Sunday’s loss with a first-inning RBI single and a third-inning sacrifice fly.
• Justyn Herzog was a key factor in WOU’s 13-5 season-opening win. The game was tied 4-4 after seven innings, but WOU scored five in the eighth and four in the ninth, and Herzog had a big hit in both innings. He gave the Wolves a 5-4 lead with an RBI single in the eighth, then extended that lead to 12-5 with a bases-clearing three-run double in the ninth. Herzog went 3-for-13 with five RBI for the week.
• The Wildcats got strong starting pitching on a couple of occasions over the weekend. Matthew Dunaway pitched four no-hit innings in his first action of the season, tying for the GNAC lead with nine strikeouts. Arturo Alvarez got the win in Friday’s first game by pitching five innings and giving up three runs, two earned, on seven hits while striking out five.
• Western Oregon has a .212 team batting average. They have drawn the second-most walks in the conference (19) and struck out the second-fewest times (35). Their team ERA of 6.47 also ranks second in the GNAC. As a staff, WOU’s 43 strikeouts leads the GNAC and they rank sixth in Division II with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
• Western Oregon will play four games against Stanislaus State this weekend, with one on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday.