San Bernardino Bats End Wolves’ Season In NCAA Regional
Western Oregon closed its season fighting at the NCAA West Regional, crushing three home runs in losses to Azusa Pacific and Cal State San Bernardino.
Western Oregon closed its season fighting at the NCAA West Regional, crushing three home runs in losses to Azusa Pacific and Cal State San Bernardino.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Two late rallies just weren’t enough as No. 6 seed Western Oregon fell 12-8 to No. 3 seed Azusa Pacific and 8-7 to No. 2 seed Cal State San Bernardino to conclude the Wolves’ 2023 season in the NCAA West Regional.

The Wolves scored four ninth-inning runs in a pair of games that they led at times. Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino, California played like a hitter’s ballpark all day as the three teams combine for a total of eight home runs. Western Oregon was responsible for three of those home runs with the first coming in the loss to Azusa Pacific

The high-offense opening game saw five home runs and six doubles between the Wolves and the Cougars with Western Oregon putting the first runs of the tournament on the board courtesy of a three-run home run by senior catcher Hibiki Ouchi in the second inning. Ouchi took advantage of leadoff batter AJ Cortese and a one-out single by junior Zach Valdez to blast just his second home run of the season.

The Cougars came back and tied the game in the bottom of the frame, capitalizing on an infield error and three walks by WOU starting pitcher Chris Hardin. The second frame set the tone for the early stages against the Cougars as the Wolves pulled ahead with runs in the third and fourth innings only for APU to claw back two runs in the sixth.

Hardin was tagged with the loss in game one after throwing 5.1 innings and allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out three. Senior Sebasten Boivin entered the game in relief for Hardin, allowing four runs before passing the rock to sophomore Chris Jones and freshman Devin Bell to close out the game with one inning of work each.

The Wolves wouldn’t go quietly, however, slashing into Azusa Pacific’s 11-5 lead with a one-run eighth and a two-run ninth inning. It was GNAC Championships MVP Levi Cummings who brought home Cortese to score in the eighth after a leadoff walk with an RBI single through the infield.  

A two-RBI single by first baseman John Oleson brought Western Oregon within striking distance of the Cougars in the ninth but the rally came up just short. The loss sent Azusa Pacific automatically through to day two of the tournament and set the table for a showdown between No. 6 Western Oregon and No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino.  

The Wolves came out of the gates hot with four straight hits in the first inning against the Coyotes. The hot bats carried WOU to an early 1-0 lead courtesy of Curran Mitzel reaching on a fielder’s choice. Cal State San Bernardino came right back in the bottom of the inning, however, with a two-run blast and a solo shot.

The Wolves chased the Coyotes the rest of the way, leveling the score in the second inning and reclaiming the lead in the third before CSUSB tacked on another pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for itself. There were only two scoreless innings in the game as both teams took advantage of the favorable hitting conditions.

Reigning GNAC Player of the Year Derek Maiben led the way at the plate in his final game wearing a Western Oregon uniform, going 3 for 5 with two RBIs, a run scored and a double. Maiben picked up his first RBI of the game in the fourth inning, reaching on a fielder’s choice to score Collin Irwin from third base and tie the game at 5-5. He also came through with an RBI in the top of the ninth as WOU tried to rally late in the game.

Sophomore Dylan Chalmers started the game for Western Oregon and allowed seven runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out four in six innings of work. Seniors Ryan Shipley and Arturo Alvarez split the last two innings for WOU with Alvarez allowing just one run to the most potent offense in the CCAA.

Western Oregon finishes its 2023 campaign with a 30-15 overall record as the GNAC champion and led the conference in batting average, earned run average and on base percentage.