2024 GNAC Baseball Championships Set For The Magic City
Northwest Nazarene leads the field to the 2024 GNAC Baseball Championships in Billings, Mont., as the No. 1 seed and regular season champion. NNU is joined by No. 2 seed WOU and No. 3 seed CWU.
Northwest Nazarene leads the field to the 2024 GNAC Baseball Championships in Billings, Mont., as the No. 1 seed and regular season champion. NNU is joined by No. 2 seed WOU and No. 3 seed CWU.

Friday, May 3, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore.  –  With the regular season done and dusted, the field is officially set for the 2024 GNAC Baseball Championships which begin on Thursday, May 9 at Dehler Park in Billings, Mont.

All three teams from last year’s edition of the tournament are back this season, but there’s a new champion leading the pack this time. Northwest Nazarene claimed the regular season crown for the third time in program history with a conference record of 23-9 (32-12-1 overall). The Nighthawks rank No. 5 in the latest NCAA west region rankings, released on Wednesday, May 1 and are No. 24 in the NCBWA national rankings as of Wednesday.

The No. 1 seeded Nighthawks will be making their eighth appearance at the tournament since its inception in 2013 as they look for their third GNAC Championships title. Western Oregon claimed the No. 2 seed after going 21-11 in conference play (27-19 overall). The Wolves are making their GNAC-record 10th appearance at the conference tournament as they pursue their seventh title at the event and their third in a row. Central Washington locked in the No. 3 seed with a 15-17 conference record (21-27 overall). The Wildcats are seeking their second GNAC Championships title in program history as they make their seventh appearance at the tournament.

2024 GNAC Baseball Championships Schedule
Montana State University Billings | Billings, Mont. | All times listed Mountain
Thursday, May 9
Game 1: Noon – No. 2 Seed Western Oregon vs. No. 3 Seed Central Washington
Game 2: 3:30 p.m. – No. 1 Seed Northwest Nazarene vs. No. 3 Seed Central Washington
Game 3: 7:00 p.m. – No. 1 Seed Northwest Nazarene vs. No. 2 Seed Western Oregon
Friday, May 10
Game 4: Noon – TBA
Game 5: 3:30 p.m. – TBA
 

The Nighthawks have ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation across a regular season where they led the league with 6.70 runs, 6.70 RBIs and 2.11 stolen bases per game. Northwest Nazarene also ranks second in the conference with a 4.53 team ERA and is third with a .290 team batting average. Trevor Tishenkel has been the top bat for NNU, hitting .339 and ranking third in the league with a .612 slugging percentage to drive in 42 runs. On the mound, Kyle Ethridge ranks third in the GNAC with a 3.62 ERA and has compiled a 5-3 record. He owns 53 strikeouts on the year to go along with an opponent batting average of .223 that ranks second in the league.

Western Oregon comes in the GNAC Championships leading the league with a 4.31 team ERA and a .249 opponent batting average. The WOU rotation also boasts four of the top 10 pitchers in the conference led by Dylan Chalmers with a 3.48 ERA that ranks second in the GNAC. Chalmers owns a 5-2 record on the year and has struck out 53 batters through 64.2 innings. At the plate, WOU owns a team batting average of .279 and is led by Curran Mitzel with a .310 average to go with 30 RBIs on seven doubles, five triples and four home runs.

Central Washington brings arguably the most reliable lineup in the conference into Billings as the Wildcats lead the league with a .305 batting average and a .385 on-base percentage. Central Washington boasts five of the top-10 batters in the conference with Ben Leid leading the team and the league with a .422 batting average. Leid also ranks second in the GNAC with 44 RBIs and 114 total bases. On the mound, Jonathan Garza II amassed a 3-4 record to go along with a 3.88 ERA and a conference-leading 74 strikeouts through 65 innings of work.

The first day of the GNAC Championships will feature a round-robin with all three teams playing each other once. Following the round-robin, if teams are 2-0, 1-1- and 0-2, the 0-2 would be eliminated and the other two teams would compete on day two for the championships (one or two games for double elimination). Following the round-robin, if teams are tied 1-1, No. 1 seed NNU would get the automatic bid to the championship game with the other two teams competing in a day-two elimination game to advance to the championship game.

The first matchup of the tournament will feature No. 2 seed Western Oregon and No. 3 seed Central Washington at noon (Mountain), followed by No. 1 seed Northwest Nazarene and No. 3 CWU at 3:30 p.m. (Mountain). No. 1 NNU and No. 2 WOU will meet for the final game of day one at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain).