Into The Stretch: Baseball Enters Second Half Of GNAC Slate
Montana State Billings split its series against second-place Central Washington last week to improve to 4-8 in confernece play.
Montana State Billings split its series against second-place Central Washington last week to improve to 4-8 in confernece play.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024
by Thomas Lal

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the first half of the conference slate in the books, all five GNAC baseball teams will be in action this week as they aim to start the second half off on the right foot.

This week’s schedule features a showdown between the top two teams in the conference at first-place Northwest Nazarene and second-place Central Washington meet for the first time this season in Ellensburg. The No. 11 Nighthawks lead the league with a 9-3 conference record coming into the week while the Wildcats are in second with an 8-4 GNAC mark. Montana State Billings will also play host to start the second half of the GNAC season with Western Oregon coming to town. The Wolves sit fourth in the conference standings coming into the week with the Yellowjackets next in fourth.

Saint Martin’s is the lone team to have played more than half of its conference schedule already and will have the week off from conference completion. Instead, the Saints will make the short trip to Tacoma, Wash., where they will face Pacific Lutheran for a single game on Wednesday.

GNAC Baseball Schedule - March 27-30
Opponent Day(s)
Pacific Lutheran Saint Martin's Wednesday
Central Washington #11 Northwest Nazarene Friday/Saturday
Western Oregon Montana State Billings Friday/Saturday

View the complete 2024 GNAC baseball schedule online here.

This Week's Storylines

TOP OF THE TABLE CLASH: The top teams in the conference standings will meet in Ellensburg this week as second-place Central Washington (13-13, 8-4 GNAC) hosts first-place Northwest Nazarene (19-5-1, 9-3) for a pair of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday. The Wildcats come into the week after splitting their series with Montana State Billings on the road while the Nighthawks took three of four games from Saint Martin’s in Nampa last time out.

Central Washington’s lineup continued to roll through the fourth week of the conference slate and boasts the two most consistent batters in the GNAC in Austin Ohland and Ben Leid along with five of the top six batting averages in the league. Ohland has been the top player across the major batting categories for CWU, batting .402 while slugging .629 and posting a .464 on-base percentage. Leid is right behind Ohland and enters this week’s series with a .367 batting average and 21 RBIs on 33 hits, including five doubles, two triples and three home runs.

The Wildcats enter their matchup with three of the top 10 pitchers in the league in Daniel Charron, Logan Pierce, and Alex Brady. Charron, a junior right-hander from Pasco, Wash., leads the trio with a 2.24 ERA through 33.1 innings of work to rank fourth in the conference. He is followed by the freshman right-hander Pierce with a 3.41 ERA that’s good for sixth in the GNAC.

Reigning GNAC Player of the Week Trevor Tishenkel leads the NNU offense into its series against Central Washington with a .318 batting average and a .659 slugging percentage that was bolstered by three home runs last week. On the season, The senior outfielder has tallied 22 RBIs on 28 hits, including nine doubles and seven homers while also scoring 20 runs of his own. Coming into the week, Tishenkel lead GNAC in slugging percentage, is tied for the lead in home runs, is third in RBIs and is tied for second in doubles.

The Nighthawks’ rotation features one of the best one-two punches in the league with senior left-hander Kyle Ethridge ranking second in the league with a 2.97 ERA and sophomore right-hander Kailer Saunders ranking ninth with a 4.76 ERA. Both also feature in the top 10 of GNAC pitchers in opponent batting average with Ethridge second holding the opposition to a .207 average and Saunders 10th with a .271 opponent average. Ethridge has been one of the top strikeout pitchers in the league as well, averaging 6.64 punchouts per game to tie for seventh in the conference.

ROAD WARRIORS VS. HOME HEROES: This week sees Western Oregon (12-13, 6-6) host Montana State Billings (10-20, 4-8) for a four-game series after a start to the season where the Wolves have picked up the second most home wins in the conference while the Yellowjackets have picked up the majority of their victories on the road. Western Oregon comes into the week after playing just one game against George Fox last week while MSUB split its four-game series against Central Washington in Billings last time out.

The Western Oregon pitching staff is led by reigning GNAC Pitcher of the Year Dylan Chalmers with a 3.03 ERA to go with a 2-2 record through 35.2 innings. Chalmers has picked up where he left off last season and ranks third in the conference with 34 strikeouts while averaging 8.58 per game. Across his six starts this season, Chalmers has notched at least three punchouts in every game, including a career-high 10 against Northwest Nazarene on March 1.

Senior infielder Justyn Herzog has been one of the top offensive players for the Wolves this season and looks to have added a healthy dose of power to his game compared to previous years. Just over halfway through WOU’s regular season schedule, Herzog has already matched his career-high of four home runs in a season and leads the team with a .470 slugging percentage. Herzog also leads the team and ranks 10th in the GNAC with a .408 on-base percentage while hitting .265 with 13 RBIs and 24 runs scored.

The Yellowjackets’ offense has maintained its status as one of the highest power lineups in the conference this season and leads the league with a .467 team slugging percentage and 35 home runs. Of those home runs, 14 have come from Payton Flynn and Kaden Kirshenbaum as both are tied for the league lead with seven apiece. Both players have also started all 30 games for the ‘Jackets this season with Flynn posting a .339 batting average to go along with 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored. Kirshenbaum comes into the week hitting .273 and has notched 17 RBIs while scoring 25 runs of his own.

Montana State Billings comes into the series with the reigning GNAC Pitcher of the Week in its rotation in Cy Miller. The junior left-hander put in a complete-game performance for his first win of the season last week, allowing just one run on seven hits while striking out five in MSUB’s 3-1 victory over Central Washington last Friday. Miller owns a 6.57 ERA on the season and has notched 18 strikeouts in 24.2 innings of work. 

EVERGREEN INTERLUDE: Saint Martin’s (10-22, 5-11) will have the week off from conference competition this week as it travels to Tacoma, Wash., for a single game against Pacific Lutheran. The Saints come into the week after going 1-3 against first-place Northwest Nazarene last week and picked up their lone win of the series in a 6-2 decision to end last Friday’s doubleheader.

The single game this week should provide some rest for the top of the Saints’ rotation which features three starting pitchers who are tied for second in the GNAC and seventh in Division II with eight starts apiece. Justice Yamashita leads that trio and the conference with a 2.80 ERA to go along with a 3-3 record and 40 strikeouts. He is followed by Colin Driscoll with a 3.31 ERA and a 2-3 record while he paces the GNAC with 49 strikeouts across a team-leading 49 innings of work. Both Yamashita and Driscoll have notched multiple complete games this season with Yamashita going the distance three times and Driscoll twice. Cole Hatton rounds out the trio and has thrown 35.1 innings this season while striking out 24 batters.

Senior infielder Dylan McLaughlin leads the SMU lineup with a .33 batting average, 18 RBIs and a .495 slugging percentage coming into the week. In 93 at-bats, McLaughlin has notched 31 hits, including 10 doubles, a triple and a home run. He is followed by freshman infielder Peter Hollabaugh with a .310 batting average in 84 at-bats. Hollabaugh has carved out a starting role for himself in his debut campaign and has featured in the starting lineup for 24 of Saint Martin’s 32 games this season, including all but one game he has played against GNAC competition. Coming into the week, Hollabaugh has notched five RBIs while scoring 10 runs on 26 hits, including six doubles.

Player to Watch

Marcus Manzardo, Central Washington

One of five Wildcats to rank in the top six of the GNAC’s batting average leaders, Manzardo checks in at fifth in the league hitting .361 while also bringing a reliable scoring presence to the basepaths. The junior from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, has come around to score 25 times this season, a total that leads the team and is tied for second in the conference while he also leads the GNAC with 0.96 runs scored per game. A key element to Manzardo’s game is patience in the batter’s box, a trait illustrated by just nine strikeouts in 108 at-bats, an effort that sees him rank third in the league with just 0.35 strikeouts per game.

Last time out against Montana State Billings, Manzardo came around to score four times, including twice in the Wildcats’ 23-3 victory last Friday. He also added four RBIs of his own on the week, making it five consecutive games with a run driven in. The Wildcats will hope that Manzardo’s consistent scoring and production can carry over into this week as they host first-place Northwest Nazarene on Friday and Saturday.

Pitcher to Watch

Jacob Memmott, Western Oregon

A junior right-hander from Central Point, Ore., Memmott has proven himself to be one of the top arms in the conference through the first half of the season. Through six starts this year, he has amassed a 3.86 ERA that ranks second on the team and seventh in the GNAC while compiling a 3-1 record. Through those six appearances on the mound, Memmott has held opponents to just a .224 batting average to rank sixth in the conference and has averaged 4.83 strikeouts per game. He has also posted a career-high six strikeouts in four of those six games, including in back-to-back performances against Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington. His six punchouts against NNU on March 2 led the Wolves to a 4-1 victory as he went the distance for the first time in his career.

GNAC in the National & Regional Rankings

Northwest Nazarene was the only team to move in the NCBWA rankings this week after taking three of four games from Saint Martin’s last time out in Nampa. The Nighthawks (19-5-1, 9-3 GNAC) jumped up one spot in the NCBWA national poll to No. 11, marking their second-highest ranking of the season and their sixth consecutive week in the top 25. Things remained steady in the west region rankings with NNU staying put at No. 2 while Central Washington (13-13, 8-4) continued to receive votes for the third straight week.

NCBWA National Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Preseason -- -- -- --
Feb. 14 RV NNU -- -- --
Feb. 21 19. NNU -- -- --
Feb. 28 10. NNU -- -- --
March 6 12. NNU -- -- --
March 13 14. NNU -- -- --
March 20 12. NNU -- -- --
March 27 11. NNU -- -- --
NCBWA West Region Rankings
Poll Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
Preseason 6. WOU 9. WWU RV MSUB --
Feb. 12 4. NNU -- -- --
Feb. 19 3. NNU -- -- --
Feb. 26 2. NNU -- -- --
March 4 2. NNU -- -- --
March 11 2. NNU RV CWU -- --
March 18 2. NNU RV CWU -- --
March 25 2. NNU RV CWU -- --

GNAC Baseball in the NCAA Statistical Rankings

Through games on March 24.

Team Rankings (Top-30)

Complete Games: 1. SMU, 5; 9. CWU, 4; 28. MSUB, 3; 28. WOU, 3
Double Plays: 3. MSUB, 29
Double Plays Per Game: 6. MSUB, 0.97; 21. NNU, 0.88
Fielding Percentage: 4. NNU, .978
Home Runs: 25. MSUB, 35
Shutouts: 19. CWU, 2; 19, NNU, 2
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: 9. NNU, 2.83
Triples: 29. MSUB, 9
WHIP: 4. NNU, 1.21; 28. WOU, 1.41
Win-Loss Percentage: 11. NNU, .780
Walks Allowed Per Nine Innings: 1. NNU, 2.22; 5. CWU, 2.66

Individual Rankings (Top-30)

Complete Games: 1. Daniel Charron, CWU, 4; 5. Justice Yamashita, SMU, 3; 18. Arturo Alvarez, WOU, 2; 18. Jackson Betancourt, MSUB, 2; 18. Colin Driscoll, SMU, 2
Games Started: 7. Jackson Betancourt, MSUB, 8; 7. Colin Driscoll, SMU, 8; 7. Cole Hatton, SMU, 8; 7. Justice Yamashita, SMU, 8
Hit Batters: 4. Cole Hatton, SMU, 14
Hits Allowed Per Nine Innings: 28. Colin Driscoll, SMU, 6.06
Sacrifice Bunts: 5. Carter Walsh, NNU, 8; 6. Emiliano Alarcon, WOU, 7
Sacrifice Bunts Per Game: 4. Carter Walsh, NNU, 0.32; 14. Emiliano Alarcon, WOU, 0.28
Saves: 10. Wade Duncan, NNU, 5
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio: 12. Kyle Ethridge, NNU, 7.25
Strikeouts: 20. Colin Driscoll, SMU, 49
Triples: 23. Curran Mitzel, WOU, 3
WHIP: 7. Kyle Ethridge, NNU, 0.84; 24. Colin Driscoll, SMU, 0.94
Walks Allowed Per Nine Innings: 7. Logan Pierce, CWU, 0.85; 9. Kyle Ethridge, NNU, 0.92; 23. Kailer Saunders, NNU, 1.27

2024 Baseball Players of the Week
Date Player of the Week
Feb. 5 Austin Schaler, Saint Martin's
Feb. 12 Jack Nehler, Montana State Billings
Feb.19 Andrew Sharp, Central Washington
Feb. 26 Kaden Kirshenbaum, Montana State Billings
March 4 Austin Ohland, Central Washington
March 11 Justyn Herzog, Western Oregon
March 18 Carter Walsh, Northwest Nazarene
March 25 Trevor Tishenkel, Northwest Nazarene

Player of the Week - Trevor Tishenkel, Northwest Nazarene

First-career player of the week – first this season.

Tishenkel sparked the Nighthawks to a 3-1 series win over Saint Martin’s, providing steady production and key swings throughout the weekend. With two outs in the bottom of the third of the series finale, Tishenkel opened up a 4-0 lead for his team with a clutch, three-run double in the eventual 4-1 win. Tishenkel led all GNAC players last week in home runs (3) and RBIs (8), while slashing .462/.533/.1.231.

“He had some of the biggest swings of the weekend of anybody in our lineup,” said NNU head coach Joe Schaefer. “His 3-run double in game four was the difference maker, and he had a couple big home runs earlier in the weekend. He has been getting hotter with each passing week, and without his performance we definitely don’t get three wins.”

Also Nominated: Austin Ohland, CWU; Jack Nehler, MSUB; Dylan McLaughlin, SMU.

2024 Baseball Pitchers of the Week
Date Pitcher of the Week
Feb. 5 Jackson Betancourt, Montana State Billings
Feb. 12 Jonathan Zayas, Northwest Nazarene
Feb. 19 Kailer Saunders, Northwest Nazarene
Feb. 26 Arturo Alvarez, Western Oregon
March 4 Kyle Ethridge, Northwest Nazarene
March 11 Daniel Charron, Central Washington
March 18 Justice Yamashita, Saint Martin's
March 25 Cy Miller, Montana State Billings

Pitcher of the Week - Cy Miller, Montana State Billings

First-career player of the week – first this season.

Miller delivered a complete-game performance to help the Yellowjackets top Central Washington 3-1 last week, collecting his first victory of the season. The left-hander limited the Wildcats – who average 6.1 runs per game – to just one run in his seven innings of work, while striking out five and scattering seven hits. Miller dealt with runners in scoring position in five innings, and retired the final two batters of the game with the tying run being represented in the box.

“We needed him to throw a game like that against Central – they have a good lineup,” said MSUB head coach Derek Waddoups. “He did a good job commanding the zone, getting ahead early and continuing to attack. He pitched ahead and continued to compete in the zone.”

Also Nominated: Logan Pierce, CWU; Bryan Rojas, NNU; Justice Yamashita, SMU.

2024 NCBWA Regional Players of the Week
Date Pitcher of the Week
Feb. 27 Kaden Kirshenbaum, Montana State Billigs


2024 NCBWA Regional Pitchers of the Week
Date Pitcher of the Week
Feb. 13 Jonathan Zayas, Northwest Nazarene
March 5 Kyle Ethridge, Northwest Nazarene
March 12 Daniel Charron, Central Washington


2024 NCBWA National Pitchers of the Week
Date Pitcher of the Week
Feb. 14 Jonathan Zayas, Northwest Nazarene


2024 GNAC Baseball Championships
The 2024 GNAC Baseball Championships will be held May 9-10 at Dehler Park in Billings Mont., and will be hosted by Montana State University Billings. The top three teams in the final GNAC regular-season standings by win percentage will advance to the tournament. The winner of the event will earn the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA West Region Championships.

Rank Team (1st Place Votes) 2023 GNAC Record (Finish) Points
1. Western Oregon (2) 30-15 20-9 (1st) 21
2. Northwest Nazarene (1) 24-29 17-15 (2nd) 20
T3. Central Washington (1) 22-29 16-15 (3rd) 13
T3. Montana State Billings (1) 21-27 12-18 (4th) 13
5. Saint Martin's 15-29 11-19 (5th) 8

 Points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis.