Pahukoa Powers NNU To Series Win
Duke Pahukoa (right) and Northwest Nazarene had its offense firing on all cylinders while taking three of four games from Saint Martin's. Pahukoa hit .833 in the series with five doubles.
Duke Pahukoa (right) and Northwest Nazarene had its offense firing on all cylinders while taking three of four games from Saint Martin's. Pahukoa hit .833 in the series with five doubles.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Duke Pahukoa raised his batting average by nearly 100 points in an offensive week for the ages, helping Northwest Nazarene take three out of four from Saint Martin’s last weekend.

Pahukoa went 10 for 12 with two RBI and five doubles for an .833 batting average and a 1.250 slugging percentage. Four of his doubles were in the same game, a series-opening 16-5 NNU win on Friday, and Pahukoa became the first player in GNAC history to achieve that feat in a single game. The junior infielder from Maui was honored with the GNAC Player of the Week award for his hitting prowess.

Plenty of other firepower showed up for the Nighthawks. Grant Kerry hit two home runs to take his league-leading season total to seven while Kyle Payne homered and drove in six runs.

The only thing that stood in the way of a Northwest Nazarene sweep was a heroic performance from GNAC Pitcher of the Week Justice Yamashita. The sophomore from Honolulu, who made it a sweep for Hawaiian athletes for the GNAC’s weekly awards, shut down an NNU line-up that scored 16 runs earlier in the day, throwing a seven-inning complete-game shutout on just three hits and four walks while striking out six in a 1-0 Saint Martin’s win. Yamashita has quietly compiled a 2.74 ERA in 23 innings pitched and is holding opponents to a .221 batting average, the lowest in the league among qualifying pitchers.

Western Oregon also took three of four in their series, besting Central Washington at home. The Wolves got several quality starts with Arturo Alvarez, Mike Peterson and Parker Johnson all going five-plus innings and giving up two earned runs or fewer. The league-leading Wolves pitching staff shut down the GNAC’s top offense from CWU, who averaged 4.25 runs per game this week, well short of their 6.1 season average.

That sets up a collision course between NNU and WOU to meet for the first time since squaring off in the West Regional finals. The two teams are tied for the conference lead at 6-2. The other series for the week will feature MSUB traveling to Saint Martin’s, with games on Friday and Saturday.

Montana State Billings had their conference bye last week and played a non-conference doubleheader against Mary. The Yellowjackets walked it off in a topsy-turvy game one, winning 11-9 on a three-run bomb from outfielder Diego Hernandez in the bottom of the ninth after blowing a save in the top half of the inning. Mary would rally to win the second game, 6-1.

This week’s action will start with Central Washington hosting NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State for a Thursday doubleheader. The Warriors have already taken four games from the Wildcats in Idaho this season.


Duke Pahukoa, Northwest Nazarene
IF • 6-2 • Jr. • Maui, Hawaii
Pahukoa led the Nighthawks to a 3-1 week, batting .833 with a .786 on-base percentage and a 1.250 slugging percentage. He went 10 for 12 with four runs, two RBI and five doubles. Pahukoa set the GNAC single-game record with four doubles in Friday’s 16-5 opening-game win, going 4 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. He had two hits in each of the remaining games of the series, including an RBI single in Saturday’s opener and two runs and a double in the nightcap.

Also Nominated:
Zach Berryman (Central Washington), Diego Hernandez (Montana State Billings), Aaron Renaud (Saint Martin’s), Derek Maiben (Western Oregon)

Justice Yamashita, Saint Martin’s
RHP • 5-10 • So. • Honolulu, Hawaii
Yamashita earned the complete-game win in the Saints 1-0 win over Northwest Nazarene on Saturday. In the seven-inning win, Yamashita allowed three hits and four walks while striking out six. He threw 110 pitches, 68 for strikes.

Also Nominated: Josh Touhey (Central Washington), Shane Martin (Northwest Nazarene), Sebasten Boivin (Western Oregon)


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• Central Washington lost three of four on the road to Western Oregon. They split on Friday with a 6-5 loss in the opener and a 7-5 win in the nightcap before losing twice on Saturday, 8-2 and 9-3.
Tyler McClain led the way at the dish for Central Washington, hitting .571 for the week after going 8 for 14 with two runs scored, two RBI and a double. McClain was in the thick of Central’s only victory of the week, going 3 for 3. With the score tied at 5-5, McClain led off the sixth inning with a double before coming around to score on a base hit by Adam Fahsel. In the seventh and final inning of the nightcap, McClain gave the Wildcats a key insurance run with a two-out RBI single to make it 7-5.
Zach Berryman hit .438 (7-16) with two RBI and two runs scored. Berryman had multiple hits in the final three games of the series, including an RBI double in Saturday’s nightcap. Berryman ranks second in the GNAC in hits (32) and runs scored (20). Fahsel leads the GNAC in both categories (35 hits, 23 runs)and ranks second in RBI (21) behind teammate Austin Ohland (26).
Josh Touhey and Brayde Hirai combined on CWU’s victory, with Touhey giving up four runs, two earned, on six hits in 4.1 innings while Hirai got the win with 2.2 shutout innings of relief. In Friday’s opener, Nolan Murphy and Jacob Goudzwaard combined for 4.1 innings of scoreless relief, with Goudzwaard giving up just two singles along the way. The performance held WOU in check as Central nearly came back from a 6-0 deficit in a 6-5 loss.
• Central Washington leads the conference with a .295 batting average, 139 runs and 231 hits. They have a 6.94 team ERA.
• Central Washington has an upcoming conference bye week. They will host Lewis-Clark State for a doubleheader on Thursday. The Wildcats previously lost four games to the Warriors in Lewiston.

• Montana State Billings split a non-conference doubleheader with Mary, winning the opener 11-9 in walk-off fashion on a three-run home run from Diego Hernandez before dropping the second game 6-1.
• Game one of the series was a hectic, back-and-forth slugfest. The Yellowjackets got solo home runs from Mason Powell and James Anderson but still found themselves down 6-2 after four-and-a-half innings. A two-run double from PJ Ausmus, an RBI double from Hayden Foltz and an RBI single from Anderson tied the score in MSUB’s four-run fifth before Ausmus hit a sac fly to give the Yellowjackets the lead.
• Mary’s offense countered every step of the way, however, and scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take a 9-8 lead. Carson Green and Anderson both walked on either side of a flyout to set the stage for Hernandez’s blast, an opposite-field drive to right-center for the outfielder’s first home run of the season.
• Powell led the way over the two-game series, batting 4 for 6 with three runs scored, two RBI and the home run. Hernandez was 3 for 6 over two games. Kevin Blair batted 2 for 6, with both his hits coming in the second game.
• Montana State Billings used the series as an opportunity to get a variety of hurlers some innings, using 12 separate pitchers over the two games. Matthew Houlihan and Hunter Runion both threw a single 1-2-3 inning in game two.
• The Yellowjackets are batting .257 and have a 7.17 ERA. They have drawn the most walks in the GNAC with 93.
• Montana State Billings received votes in the latest NCBWA West Region poll.
• Montana State Billings will resume its conference schedule by traveling to Saint Martin’s for two games Friday and two games Saturday.

• Northwest Nazarene won three of four for the second consecutive conference series. After defeating Saint Martin’s 16-5 in Friday’s game one, the Nighthawks were handed a 1-0 loss in the nightcap. They swept both games on Saturday by scores of 3-2 and 6-2.
Duke Pahukoa had exactly the week he needed to ignite his first GNAC season. The transfer from Division I UNLV hit .833 (10-12) with four runs, two RBI and five doubles, earning the GNAC Player of the Week award. Four of those doubles came in Friday’s opening win, which gives Pahukoa the all-time GNAC single-game record. Pahukoa’s week raised his average from .221 to .315 in the past four games alone.
Haden Keller had a big week at the plate, batting .467 (7-15) with three RBI and four runs scored. In Saturday’s opener, Keller was on base when Grant Kerry hit his GNAC-leading seventh home run in the sixth inning to give NNU a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish. Keller hit a solo bomb of his own as part of a four-run eighth inning in the 6-2 victory in the second game.
• The Nighthawks pitching staff is finding its groove. Staff ace Kyle Ethridge had his best start of the season in Friday’s win, going 7.1 innings and giving up four runs while striking out seven. Relief pitchers carried the day on Saturday for NNU. Shane Martin and Max Holtzclaw pitched the final five innings of the 3-2 victory, giving up just a single apiece. Holtzclaw locked down the two-inning save for his GNAC-leading sixth of the year, which ranks second in Division II. Blake McFadden got his second save by pitching three innings of one-run ball in the nightcap.
• Northwest Nazarene is batting .280 and has a 5.22 ERA, ranking second in the conference in both. They lead the GNAC in home runs (24) and pitching strikeouts (202).
• The Nighthawks are fourth in the latest NCBWA West Region poll, up from tied for fifth last week.
• Northwest Nazarene will host Western Oregon for two games Friday and two games Saturday in the first match-up between the conference’s top two teams.

• Saint Martin’s lost three of four to Northwest Nazarene, losing 16-5 in the series opener on Friday but rebounding with a 1-0 victory in the second game. The Saints lost twice on Saturday, 3-2 and 6-2.
Justice Yamashita put the team on his back to win a game off the defending regional champs as well as GNAC Pitcher of the Week honors. In a seven-inning game, Yamashita threw a complete-game shutout, giving up three singles, walking four and striking out six. Yamashita ranks second in the GNAC among eligible pitchers with a 2.74 ERA and leads the GNAC with a .221 opponent batting average.
• Meanwhile, the Saints did just enough to win, scoring their only run in the second inning on three singles followed by a wild pitch that scored Cody Chavis. The Saints’ top offensive performer was Reid Little, who went 3 for 11 and scored two runs. Aaron Renaud hit a solo home run, giving him five on the season, which ranks second in the GNAC.
Finnley Butler also had a strong start for SMU, throwing five one-run innings while giving up five hits in Saturday’s opener. Ryan Driscoll threw a scoreless inning in both of Saturday’s games and has a 0.61 ERA in 14.2 innings this year.
• The Saints have a .249 team batting average and a 7.63 team ERA. The Saints lead the GNAC in double plays turned with 16.
• Saint Martin’s hosts Montana State Billings for four games, two on Friday and two on Saturday.

• Western Oregon defeated Central Washington three out of four times, splitting on Friday with a 6-5 win and a 7-5 loss before winning the final two games on Saturday by scores of 8-2 and 9-3.
Derek Maiben hit .533 (8-15) with six runs scored and four RBI while also stealing five bases in five attempts. Three of those swiped bags came in the first game of the series. Maiben leads the GNAC with 10 stolen bases on 11 attempts this season.
Anthony Zellner drove in four runs for the Wolves this week, recording a two-run single in Friday’s loss, an RBI single in Saturday’s first game and an RBI groundout in Saturday’s second game. Zellner hit .357 (5-14) this week. Jackson Holstad and Spencer Weston also had four RBI.
• As has been the case all season, Western Oregon won with pitching. Arturo Alvarez gave up one run and scattered six hits over 5.1 innings to get the win in the series opener. Alvarez leads the GNAC among eligible pitchers with a 2.10 ERA and is 3-0 this season.
• The Wolves’ pitching staff is so deep that WOU has been interchanging their rotation and bullpen pieces. Six Western Oregon pitchers have both started a game and appeared in multiple games as a reliever. Among that group, Parker Johnson (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) and Mike Peterson (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 K) thrived in starting roles while Seth Kuykendall moved to the bullpen and locked down his second save with 1.2 one-hit innings in the series finale. Wolves relief ace Sebasten Boivin gave up only four hits and one run in six innings across two relief appearances this week.
• Western Oregon has a .250 batting average and a league-leading 3.95 ERA. Their pitching staff has given up the fewest hits (171) and walks (71) in the GNAC, while their lineup has struck out the fewest times (151).
• The Wolves sit fifth in the latest NCBWA West Region Poll. They were tied for fifth last week.
• Western Oregon will travel to Northwest Nazarene for a four-game set, the first time the two West Regional finalists from 2021 will meet in 2022. The two teams play twice Friday and twice on Saturday.