Bases Loaded: Three Named Baseball All-Americans
John Gonzales (left) earned second team honors while Ben Johnson (center) and Will Riley were named to the third team.
John Gonzales (left) earned second team honors while Ben Johnson (center) and Will Riley were named to the third team.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas – A historic season for GNAC baseball reached another milestone Wednesday with the selection of a record three conference players to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Division II Academic All-America Baseball Team.

Northwest Nazarene senior infield John Gonzales was named to the second while Nighthawks’ senior catcher Ben Johnson was elected to the third team. The duo is joined by Montana State Billings senior infielder Will Riley, who also earned third-team honors.

The three selections more than double the all-time number of baseball Academic All-Americans for the GNAC. They join Western Oregon’s Bryce Gardinier, who earned first-team honors in 2003, and Montana State Billings’ Matt Dillon, who was named to the third team in 2019. The trio was also among an impressive six GNAC baseball student-athletes named Academic All-District.

Gonzalez, who maintained a perfect 4.00 GPA while enrolled in Northwest Nazarene’s Master’s of Business Administration program, played a key role in the Nighthawks’ run to the GNAC and NCAA West Regional championships. The GNAC Championships MVP started 43 of 44 games played at first base and finished the year with a .248 batting average and 36 hits. He led the conference and ranked 14th in Division II with 17 home runs. Gonzalez also ranked fourth in the GNAC with a .690 slugging percentage.

Johnson, who has a 3.98 GPA as a biology major, was the recipient of the NCAA Elite 90 award for the Division II Baseball Championships, recognizing the player at the championships with the highest cumulative GPA. A First Team All-GNAC and Second Team NCBWA All-West Region selection as a utility player, Johnson batted .328 with 42 hits, five doubles, two home runs and 21 RBI.

Riley, who has a 3.72 GPA as a health and human performance major, was named Honorable Mention All-America by the NCBWA while earning First Team All-GNAC and consensus First Team All-West Region honors at shortstop. Riley was third in the GNAC with a .401 batting average, led the conference with 63 hits and was fourth with 42 runs. His 1.57 runs per game ranked 40th among Division II players.

The three baseball players join five other GNAC student-athletes who have earned Academic All-America honors for the 2020-21 season. Also selected were men’s soccer players Travis Swallow (Seattle Pacific, second team) and Lorenzo Valentini (Northwest Nazarene, third team) and women’s soccer players Mariah Alexander (Seattle Pacific, first team) and Sophia Chilczuk (Seattle Pacific, first team) and Seattle Pacific men's basketball player Harry Cavell (third team).

Nominees for the CoSIDA Academic All-America program must be of sophomore eligibility or greater, must be in their second year at the nominating institution, must be a starter or important reserve for their team and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or greater.