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Final Berth Up For Grabs Heading Into Home Stretch
Leading Northwest Nazarene by one game for fourth place, a sweep of Saint Martin's this weekend would ensure Concordia its first-ever trip to the GNAC Championships.
Leading Northwest Nazarene by one game for fourth place, a sweep of Saint Martin's this weekend would ensure Concordia its first-ever trip to the GNAC Championships.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

CAVALIERS, NIGHTHAWKS JOSTLE FOR FINAL BERTH: With four games left in the regular season, the upcoming weekend will be filled with drama.

Concordia enters the weekend with a one-game margin over Northwest Nazarene for fourth place. In the teams’ previous meeting last weekend, Northwest Nazarene closed the gap on the Cavs by taking three of four at Porter Park.

Concordia can clinch its first-ever berth to the GNAC Championships with a sweep of Saint Martin’s. If the Cavaliers lose a contest, however, Northwest Nazarene can claim the fourth spot with a series sweep against Western Oregon. If both teams end up tied at the end of the regular season, Northwest Nazarene would own the head-to-head tiebreaker as they have taken six of eight games against CU this season.

Entering the weekend, Concordia is hitting .257 while Northwest Nazarene is at a .278 batting average. Northwest Nazarene has been one of the GNAC’s best fielding teams this season as they boast a .957 fielding percentage. Concordia, on the other hand, is third in the league with a 5.70 earned run average.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS REMAINS IN REGIONAL RANKING: In the latest NCAA Division II Baseball West Region Rankings, Montana State Billings is ranked at No. 7. The Yellowjackets enter the weekend as the GNAC regular-season champion after winning seven of nine GNAC series this season.    Montana State Billings owns a 28-14, 27-9 GNAC record.

The NCAA regional rankings will be released for the next two weeks with the final rankings being revealed on May 13. The GNAC Championships is set for May 9-11 and will be hosted by Central Washington in Ellensburg, Wash.

GNAC CHAMPIONSHIPS FIELD NEARLY SET: Heading into the final week of the regular season, three teams have already clinched a berth to the 2018 GNAC Baseball Championships. Montana State Billings will be the No. 1 seed heading into next week’s tournament after clinching the regular season title via a Western Oregon loss to Concordia on Tuesday. The Yellowjackets lead the league in a handful of offensive categories, which include batting average, hits, runs, RBIs, doubles, triples and home runs.

Western Oregon and Central Washington also secured berths to the annual tournament with one week to spare. Taking three of four games over the Wildcats last weekend, Western Oregon punched its sixth straight ticket to conference championships and sit three games ahead of Central Washington for second place.

Picking up a 5-3 win over the Wolves on Saturday, Central Washington also booked its ticket to the championships. Central Washington can guarantee the No. 3 seed with two wins against Montana State Billings this weekend.

THIS WEEK'S GNAC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Player
Zach Penrod, Northwest Nazarene
OF/P • 6-2 • Jr. • Nampa, Idaho

Penrod gave the Nighthawks big offense to keep their GNAC Championships hopes alive, going 9 for 16 with six runs, six RBIs, a double and a walk in the series with Concordia. He went 2 for 3 in Friday’s 6-4 opening-game win, opening scoring with an RBI single in the first, and then scored the tying run in the second game, a 2-1 loss. Penrod went 3 for 3 with three runs and three RBIs in Saturday’s 14-0 shutout of the Cavs and finished by going 3 for 4 in the second game, singling home the game-tying run in the seventh.

Also Nominated: Ryan Myers (Montana State Billings), Austin Feist (Saint Martin’s), Spencer Bennion (Western Oregon).

Pitcher
Adam Paulson, Northwest Nazarene
P • 6-2 • Sr. • Medical Lake, Wash.

Paulson threw a complete-game three-hit shutout to beat Concordia in Sunday’s opener, 14-0. He allowed just one walk, struck out four, and faced just four batters over the minimum. The win helped the Nighthawks remain in contention for a GNAC Championships berth.

Also Nominated: Sam Wong (Montana State Billings), Ryan Dorney (Saint Martin’s), Craig Grubbe (Western Oregon).

CENTRAL WASHINGTON
• Despite dropping three of four to Western Oregon last weekend, Central Washington clinched its second consecutive berth to the GNAC Baseball Championships. The Wildcats dropped Saturday’s series opener, 14-6, before winning the nightcap 5-3. Western Oregon took Sunday’s doubleheader 8-5 and 4-3.

• Central Washington was limited to a .248 batting average and posted a 5.58 earned run average over the four games.

• Junior Tristin Parton paced the CWU offense by batting .467 in the series, which included seven hits, four RBIs, four runs and a double. In the series opener, Parton went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs to go along with a walk. In 36 appearances this season, Parton owns a .346 batting average and has a perfect fielding percentage.

• Sophomore Jaden Hassell was second on the team with a .375 batting average over the four games. Hassell collected six hits, three of which came in the 8-5 defeat. He finished the weekend with a league-high four doubles to go along with three RBIs. Hassell is hitting .303 on the season and has compiled 20 RBIs.

• Senior Griffin Davis claimed the win in CWU’s 5-3 victory. He went six innings and gave up four hits and three runs, one earned, to go along with two strikeouts. Davis picked up his team-leading sixth win of the season.

• The Wildcats remain second in the league with a .301 batting average and are second with 91 doubles. Central Washington has also compiled 449 hits to go along with 306 runs.

• Central Washington ends the season with a four-game series against GNAC regular-season champion Montana State Billings.

CONCORDIA
• Entering last week with a 2.5 game lead over Northwest Nazarene for fourth place, Concordia dropped three of four against the Nighthawks at Porter Park. The Cavaliers fell in Thursday’s opener 6-4 before winning the nightcap 2-1. On Friday, the Cavs were blanked 14-0 in the opener before dropping the second game of the twinbill 6-5.

• The Cavaliers did, however, pick up a nail-biting 9-8 win over Western Oregon on Tuesday, a game that was rescheduled from an April 16 rainout.

• Senior Andrew Barrera led the Cavaliers at the plate after compiling a .353 batting average. In the win over Western Oregon, Barrera went 3 for 4 and knocked in the game-winning run in the seventh inning after connecting for an RBI single to left field. He is among GNAC leaders with a .337 batting average and has 11 doubles. He is the only Cavalier to start all 46 games this season.

• Junior Kaleb Jones earned his fourth win of the season after providing six innings of work in Concordia’s 2-1 win on Thursday. Jones allowed just one earned run to go along with three strikeouts. Jones lowers his ERA to 4.88 this season and has struck out 28 batters.

• Concordia is hitting .257 this year and is third in the GNAC with a 5.70 earned run average. They are also fourth in the league with 373 hits.

• With four games left in the regular season, a series sweep against Saint Martin’s would ensure Concordia its first GNAC Championships berth in program history.

MONTANA STATE BILLINGS
• Picking up a split against Saint Martin’s last weekend, Montana State Billings captured its third GNAC regular season title in four years after Western Oregon’s loss to Concordia on Wednesday.

• With four games left in the regular season, Montana State Billings is five games ahead of second-place Western Oregon for first place and will enter the GNAC postseason as the No. 1 seed.

• The Yellowjackets dropped the series opener against SMU on Thursday 4-3. They did, however, pick up a doubleheader sweep on Friday by scores of 14-8 and 6-1. Montana State Billings fell in the series finale on Saturday 13-10. The Yellowjackets paced the league with a .333 batting average and connected for four home runs.

• Junior Jalen Garcia paced the MSUB offense by batting .500 in the series. Garcia totaled nine hits to go along with seven RBIs, five runs and two walks. Garcia had his best game of the series in the finale where he went 4 for 6  and recorded three RBIs. Garcia is second in the GNAC with a .388 batting average and leads the league in runs scored (50), RBIs (45), total bases (113) and stolen bases (4).

• Senior Ryan Myers continues to have a monster season as he batted .455 while recording seven RBIs. In the 14-8 victory, Myers went 2 for 3 with three runs batted in. He was hit by pitch on six occasions in the series. Myers leads the GNAC with a .392 batting average and 12 home runs. He is also third in Division II with a .560 on-base percentage.

• Junior Sam Wong picked up his third win of the season after allowing just one run on six hits in seven innings during Friday’s nightcap. Wong lowered his season ERA to 4.47 and is third on the team with 30 strikeouts.

• In the latest NCAA Division II West Region Rankings, Montana State Billings is ranked at No. 7. It leads the conference in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, home runs and walks.

• The Yellowjackets finish the regular season at Dehler Park this weekend against Central Washington.

NORTHWEST NAZARENE
• Northwest Nazarene picked up three crucial wins against fourth-place Concordia to keep its postseason hopes alive. The Nighthawks earned a 6-4 win in Thursday’s opener before dropping the nightcap 2-1. Northwest Nazarene closed the series with a doubleheader sweep on Friday, 14-0 and 6-5.

• The Nighthawks used dominant pitching and timely hitting to take three of four at Porter Park. They were second in the GNAC with a .314 batting average and paced the conference with a 2.53 ERA last week.

• Pacing NNU’s offense was the reigning GNAC Baseball Player of the Week, junior Zach Penrod. The junior went 9 for 16 with six runs, six RBIs, a double and a walk. He went 2 for 3 in Friday’s 6-4 opening-game win, opening the scoring with an RBI single in the first, and then scored the tying run in the second game, a 2-1 loss. Penrod went 3 for 3 with three runs and three RBIs in Saturday’s 14-0 shutout of the Cavs and finished by going 3 for 4 in the second game, singling home the game-tying run in the seventh.

• Sophomore Parker Price had himself a nice outing at the plate by going 6 for 14 while adding an RBI. Down 5-3 in the series finale, Price knocked in an RBI single to continue NNU’s three-run rally in the seventh inning. He leads the team with a .347 batting average and 13 doubles.

• Senior Adam Paulson was named the GNAC Baseball Pitcher of the Week after he threw a complete-game three-hit shutout to beat Concordia in Sunday’s opener, 14-0. He allowed just one walk, struck out four, and faced just four batters over the minimum.
• The Nighthawks are fourth in the GNAC batting .278 and are second in the GNAC with 33 home runs. Northwest Nazarene is also second in the GNAC with a .957 fielding percentage.

• Trailing fourth-place Concordia by a game in the GNAC standings, the Nighthawks host Western Oregon this weekend to close the regular season.

SAINT MARTIN’S
• Saint Martin’s earned a split against first-place Montana State Billings over the weekend. The Saints picked up a 4-3 win in Thursday’s series opener before getting swept in Friday’s doubleheader 14-8 and 6-1. On Saturday, it bounced back for a series-finale 13-10 win.

• As a team, Saint Martin’s hit .299 and managed four home runs and 41 hits. The Saints led the conference with a .977 fielding percentage over the weekend.

• Junior Austin Feist led Saint Martin’s at the plate with a .500 batting average. The junior went 6 for 12 over the weekend, which included a 3 for 5 performance with two RBIs in the series opener. Feist is among GNAC leaders with a .337 batting average and leads the Saints with 26 RBIs and 86 total bases.

• Junior Kahi Hirano was second on the team after he batted .455. Hirano went 3 for 4 with an RBI in Friday’s opener before going 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs in the series finale. Hirano improves his batting average to .194 on the season and has a .924 fielding percentage.

• In four innings of work last week, freshman Matthew Dunaway allowed no hits and no runs while fanning four batters. He pitched the final four innings in the opening 4-3 win to pick up his first victory of the season. Dunaway has compiled 16 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched this year.

• As a team, Saint Martin’s is hitting .251 this season and has drawn the second-most walks with 175.

• Saint Martin’s looks to play spoiler this weekend as they host Concordia in the regular-season finale.

WESTERN OREGON
• Western Oregon earned a series win over Central Washington last week and punched its sixth straight ticket to the GNAC Championships in the process. The Wolves took Saturday’s series opener 14-6 before dropping the nightcap 5-3. On Sunday, the Wolves swept the doubleheader 8-5 and 4-3.

• Taking on Concordia on Tuesday, Western Oregon dropped a close affair with the Cavs in a 9-8 loss. The game was originally postponed on April 16 due to rain. It was the final regular-season game between the two teams this year.

• Senior Jay Leverett led WOU at the plate by batting .467 last week. Leverett went 2 for 3 and scored a team-high three runs in the series opener against Central Washington. He then went 2 for 3 in each of the next two contests. Leverett is fourth in the GNAC with a .376 batting average and has compiled 47 hits.

• Freshman Griffey Halle was second on the team by batting .412. The freshman recorded seven hits and four RBIs, two of which came in the 14-6 victory. Halle improves his batting average to .317 on the season and is third on the team with 26 runs batted in.

• Senior Craig Grubbe shined in his lone appearance last week. In the 4-3 win over CWU, Grubbe amassed a career-high 12 strikeouts in a complete game eight-inning effort. He allowed six hits for three runs, two of which were unearned and issued just one walk. He lowers his season ERA to 4.50 and has three wins this year.

• The Wolves continue to boast the best pitching staff in the GNAC with a 4.30 earned run average and are 18th in Division II with a .970 fielding percentage.

• Western Oregon can clinch the No. 2 seed in the GNAC Championships with a win at Northwest Nazarene in the regular-season finale.

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