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Nighthawks Drop NCAA Championships Opener To Mules
Northwest Nazarene senior third baseman Shawn Grandmont went 2 for 4 with two runs scored in the Nighthawks' loss to Central Missouri. Photo by James Benson.
Northwest Nazarene senior third baseman Shawn Grandmont went 2 for 4 with two runs scored in the Nighthawks' loss to Central Missouri. Photo by James Benson.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

CARY, N.C. – Northwest Nazarene will be fighting to keep its season alive on Monday, but the Nighthawks are no strangers to elimination games.

The No. 8-seeded Nighthawks dropped their first game of the NCAA Championships with a 9-3 loss to top-seeded Central Missouri on Saturday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

Central Missouri scored first on an RBI single up the middle by junior center fielder Micah Evans to score freshman designated hitter Garrett Pennington, who led off the inning with a double to right-center field. The Mules added to their lead with a two-run home run to right by junior first baseman Cole Taylor. It was Taylor’s fourth homer of the season.

Northwest Nazarene manufactured a run of its own in the sixth inning. Senior third baseman Shawn Grandmont hit a one-out single through the left side to reach base and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Senior catcher Ben Johnson drove Grandmont in two batters later with an RBI single to center.

The Mules broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning. Taylor doubled down the left-field line to drive in two. Senior catcher Scott Wolverton followed with an RBI single to left and then a safety squeeze by senior left fielder Josh Schumacher brought in the fourth run.

The Mules added an insurance run in the seventh when Wolverton singled up the middle to score Evans from third. He went 3 for 4 with a pair of RBI while Taylor went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and four RBI.

The Nighthawks kept themselves in the game with two runs in the eighth. Grandmont tripled to center to lead off the inning and then scored on an infield single to first base by freshman outfielder Grant Kerry. Kerry came around to score later in the inning on an RBI double to center by junior left fielder Alex Salsman. Grandmont and Salsman both went 2 for 4 in the game while Kerry went 1 for 4.

Central Missouri senior right fielder Erik Webb hit his sixth homer of the season to lead off the eighth and extend the Mules’ lead to six runs. He went 2 for 4 in the game with the solo shot.

Junior Mason Green earned the win on the mound for the Mules. He tossed six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Nighthawks starter, senior Sasha Jabusch, took the loss after allowing four earned runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout in five innings.

With the loss, Northwest Nazarene will play No. 4-seeded Trevecca Nazarene in the elimination bracket at 2 p.m. on Monday. The Nighthawks also lost their opening game of the NCAA West Regional but stormed back to win three straight games and earn the GNAC’s first trip to the National Championships.

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