Nighthawks’ Season Comes To End In NCAA West Regional
Northwest Nazarene's season came to an end in the NCAA West Regional with a 6-3 loss to host Cal State Monterey Bay in Seaside, Calif.
Northwest Nazarene's season came to an end in the NCAA West Regional with a 6-3 loss to host Cal State Monterey Bay in Seaside, Calif.

Thursday, May 16, 2024
by Thomas Lal

SEASIDE, Calif.  – Reigning GNAC champion Northwest Nazarene’s season came to an end with a 6-3 loss to Cal State Monterey Bay in the NCAA Division II West Regional in Seaside, Calif.

The No. 3 seeded Nighthawks’ loss to the No. 2 seeded Otters was the team’s second of the day in the double-elimination tournament after falling 8-6 to No. 6 seed San Francisco State earlier in the day. With a pair of losses, NNU finished the year with a 36-15-1 overall record (23-9 GNAC).

The Nighthawks nearly punched their ticket to Friday in come-from-behind fashion against the Gators to start the day after trailing by as many as four runs in the fourth inning during the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Reigning GNAC Freshman of the Year Carter Walsh was the toughest out of the first game for either team as he went 3-for-3 at the plate with a double two walks, an RBI and three runs scored.

 Wade Duncan was tagged with the loss for the Nighthawks against San Francisco State as allowed two runs on three hits while striking out one in two innings of relief.

The Nighthawks fell behind early against the Gators as starter Blake Hammond allowed a solo home run in the top of the second inning to AJ Schrader after sitting down the first three batters he saw in order. The NNU offense battled back at the first time of asking, however, as Kaleb Karpstein drove a two-out RBI-double to even the score in the bottom of the frame.

With windy conditions pushing the ball further into the outfield, the two teams combined for three more runs in the third inning as the Gators took a 3-2 lead. Trevor Tishenkel provided the lone run of the inning for the Nighthawks as he followed up a leadoff single by Walsh with a two-out RBI double of his own to cut the lead to just one.

San Francisco State starter Ryan Garza continued to be an issue for the NNU lineup until he exited the game in the seventh inning, allowing the Nighthawks to stretch their offensive muscles and mount what looked to be a promising comeback. Down 6-2 in the top of the seventh, it was Walsh who fired up the offense once again as he shot a one-out double down the left field line before coming around to score on an RBI-single by Cole Calnon, cutting the lead to 6-3.

The Nighthawks continued to surge against the Gators’ bullpen in the eighth inning, racking up three more runs to draw the score level at 6-6 heading into the top of the ninth. A leadoff double by GNAC Championships MVP Bryan Rojas set the table for a one-out RBI double by Karpstein to score the first run of the frame. It was Walsh once again who factored in on the next two scoring plays as he shot a two-out single down the line to drive Rojas in before coming around to even the score from first base on a single by Gavin Brubaker.

The Northwest Nazarene rally fell just short in extra innings as San Francisco State tacked on two runs in the top of the 10th forcing the Nighthawks into a matchup against host Cal State Monterey Bay immediately following the first game.

It was Northwest Nazarene who took the early advantage in the second game as Adam Paganelli hit a solo home run in the top of the second to give NNU a 1-0 lead that would last until the fourth inning. Reigning GNAC Co-Pitcher of the Year Kyle Ethridge got the nod for the Nighthawks in game two and allowed just one hit through his first three innings of work. The Otters broke up the shutout with a home run of their own in the fourth, however, a three-run shot by Nico Hartojo that gave CSUMB a lead that it would never concede.

The Nighthawks pulled within one run in the top of the fifth as Walsh grounded out to shortstop but still brought Casey Wayne around to make the score 3-2. The Otters picked up three more runs in the bottom of the frame, however, putting the game beyond reach even as Rojas knocked an RBI-double in the sixth inning for the last run of the game and the Nighthawks’ season.

Ethridge was charged with the loss on the mound after throwing six innings and allowing six runs, five earned on seven hits and one walk while striking out five batters. The Nighthawks were without veteran third baseman Duke Pahukoa in both games due to food sickness that kept him out of the lineup.

Northwest Nazarene ends the 2024 season as the GNAC regular season champion and the GNAC Championships winner. The Nighthawks’ 36 wins are the most in program history.