Wolves Take Down Nighthawks To Close In On GNAC Title
Western Oregon's Levi Cummings crushed a solo home run in the third inning of the Wolves' 4-1 win over Northwest Nazarene. | Photo by Ron Smith
Western Oregon's Levi Cummings crushed a solo home run in the third inning of the Wolves' 4-1 win over Northwest Nazarene. | Photo by Ron Smith

Thursday, May 11, 2023

LACEY, Wash. – Western Oregon took a commanding 4-1 win over Northwest Nazarene behind solid pitching and defense to put itself one win away from winning the GNAC Championships.

Starting pitcher Dylan Chalmers worked six innings to earn the win on the mound for the Wolves to improve to 7-0 on the season. Chalmers showed why he was voted as a GNAC Co-Pitcher of the Year, allowing just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out two. Western Oregon reliever Bryce Bond earned his first save of the season, throwing the final two innings where he allowed only one hit and two walks. Northwest Nazarene’s Brock Moffit was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five batters.

The Western Oregon defense committed only one error as all three WOU pitchers were effective at drawing the ground ball. Sophomore John Oleson was particularly busy, earning 12 outs at first base while GNAC Player of the Year Derek Maiben assisted on five putouts.

Western Oregon opened the scoring in the second inning with Curran Mitzel stealing third base and then coming around to score after the attempted pick-off went wide. Sophomore Randy Stultz followed that up with an RBI single to score Oleson and make the score 2-0 at the end of two innings. The Wolves tacked on another run in the bottom of the third courtesy of a Levi Cummings solo home run to lead off the frame.

After the offensive outpouring from Western Oregon to open the game Moffitt seemed to stabilize on the mound. He tightroped his way out of more potential trouble in the third inning with a trio of ground-outs then came back in the fourth to sit the Wolves down in order on three straight strikeouts. He went on to finish the game allowing four runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work.

The hottest bats in the conference threatened again in the sixth, but once again Moffitt worked his out of trouble with the help of his infielders. After conceding a walk and hitting Cummings, Moffitt forced three-straight consecutive ground-outs to escape the inning without any damage.

Northwest Nazarene followed up the excellent defensive work with their lone run of the game in the top of the sixth. After Duke Pahukoa reached base on a fielder’s choice, he moved up 90 feet courtesy of a wild throw that found its way into the Nighthawks’ dugout. Designated hitter Manny Casillas drove Pahukoa in with a hard-hit ground ball that a diving Derek Maiben just couldn’t get a glove on.

Western Oregon answered right back in the bottom of the sixth, knocking out Moffitt and re-establishing their three-run advantage. Junior AJ Cortese punished Moffitt’s leadoff walk to Oleson with an RBI double to make the score 4-1. Senior Nick Irwin entered in relief for the Nighthawks and worked his way out of the jam with a strikeout and fly-out.

The Nighthawks continued to push after Chalmers exited the game, threatening in the top of the eighth largely due to their patience in the batter’s box. After Kaleb Karpstein led off the inning with a double, Bond walked Pahukoa and Casillas to load the bases with two outs. Bond narrowly avoided any damage, forcing a fly-out to shortstop Derek Maiben to end the inning. That proved to be the last time Northwest Nazarene mounted a serious threat in the game as Bond closed out the game without allowing another hit.

With the win, Western Oregon moves to 2-0 in tournament play and moves Northwest Nazarene to 1-1. The Wolves now need just one win in tomorrow’s game to secure their second straight GNAC Championships title. If the Nighthawks win, there will be a second game to immediately follow and determine the conference champion.