Wolves Win, All Three Teams Alive Into Saturday
John Stark's 10th home run of the season tied him for the GNAC lead this season with MSUB's Mitch Winter. Photo by Amanda Loman.
John Stark's 10th home run of the season tied him for the GNAC lead this season with MSUB's Mitch Winter. Photo by Amanda Loman.

Friday, May 13, 2022

MONMOUTH, Ore. – On Thursday, Western Oregon outhit its opponent in a loss. This time, the Wolves were the team that made the most of their opportunities.

John Stark hit a two-run homer, Jackson Holstad and Justyn Herzog had RBI hits and Western Oregon’s league-leading pitching staff held Northwest Nazarene in check as the Wolves beat NNU 4-1 in the second of two games on Friday at the GNAC Baseball Championships.

With today’s results, all three tournament teams end the round robin portion of the tournament at 1-1. No. 2 seed Western Oregon and No. 3 seed Montana State Billings will play an elimination game to start Saturday’s action, with the winner advancing to play No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene in a winner-take-all game for the GNAC Championships victory and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA West Regional that comes with it.

For the second consecutive game, Northwest Nazarene put up a run in the first inning. A Tyler Best single and a Haden Keller walk put two men on base for Alex Salsman, who delivered with a base hit right back up the middle with two outs to easily score Best.

Unlike the previous game, however, that would be all the Nighthawks got. Wolves starter Mike Peterson consistently worked his way out of jams, giving up six hits and issuing three walks but still only allowing one run in 5.2 innings before being lifted at 100 pitches.

Nighthawks starter Spencer Schwehr retired the side in order during the first two innings, but narrowly escaped trouble in the third when he loaded the bases on a Spencer Weston double, a hit by pitch and a walk before getting a groundout. He hit Logan Ho with a pitch to lead off the fourth inning and this time Stark made him pay, sending a drive over the left-field fence to give the Wolves the lead. It was Stark’s 10th home run of the season, tying him for the GNAC lead with MSUB’s Mitch Winter.

With Peterson continuing to post zeros, Western Oregon added on in the sixth with a pair of doubles from Herzog and Holstad, with Holstad managing to hit it to the opposite field over the left fielder’s head to score Herzog. After scoring a run, it was Herzog’s turn to drive in a run next inning when his two-out single with runners on the corners scored Levi Cummings.

With a two-out double from Quentin Ayers chasing Peterson, Bryce Bond entered the game and struck out NNU center fielder Ryan Dearing to end the sixth. Bond threw 2.1 innings of relief in total, giving up one hit and striking out two. After throwing two scoreless innings in Thursday’s loss, Bond has given up just the one hit with five strikeouts in 4.1 relief innings.

Matthew Dunaway, who has recently settled in as the Wolves’ closer, pitched the ninth. The Nighthawks began to threaten when Parker Price singled with two outs and Best reached on a throwing error to bring the tying run to the plate in Keller. After a six-pitch battle, Keller went down swinging to end the game.

Weston and Herzog both had two hits for the Wolves, who tallied eight hits in total. Northwest Nazarene also had eight hits but left 11 on base and were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.