Clutch Homers Blast Nighthawks Into First
Northwest Nazarene utilized a two or three-run home run in the seventh inning or later three separate times during its series win over Western Oregon.
Northwest Nazarene utilized a two or three-run home run in the seventh inning or later three separate times during its series win over Western Oregon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

With all eyes on Western Oregon’s shutdown pitching staff and Northwest Nazarene’s dangerous offense, NNU got an early leg up on the GNAC title race by taking three of four from Western Oregon after the two teams entered the series tied for first at 6-2 in the GNAC.

In each of the Nighthawks’ three wins, they hit a massive home run late that proved crucial to the outcome of the game. On Friday, Parker Price hit a tie-breaking two-run home run in the seventh that allowed the Nighthawks to win 5-3. Price nearly played the hero role in Friday’s nightcap as well, driving home Ryan Dearing and pinch-runner Nathan Cassara with a two-out, two-run double in the seventh and final regulation inning to make it 3-3 before the Wolves eventually won, 6-4 in 12 innings.

On Saturday, Western Oregon took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth before Duke Pahukoa stunned the Wolves with a three-run bomb after Haden Keller and Grant Kerry reached to open the inning. Cameron Bogard pinch-hit and doubled, Colton Moore moved him over to third with a sacrifice bunt and Walker Moore completed the comeback with a sharp single up the middle.

The Nighthawks looked to be in the driver’s seat to win the series when Kerry, who would earn GNAC Player of the Week honors, hit a three-run bomb of his own to open up a 6-2 NNU lead heading into the seventh and final inning. Northwest Nazarene ended up needing all of that cushion, however, as Western Oregon rallied to make it 6-5 before Max Holtzclaw slammed the door for his Division II-leading eighth save, ending the game on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double-play.

The only game Western Oregon won in the series ended up being nearly double its scheduled seven innings in length. After Price’s two-run double sent the game to extras, WOU took the lead in the 10th on an RBI triple from Jacob Maiben before Bogard responded with a sac fly to tie it again for NNU. Jackson Holstad gave the Wolves the lead for good with a two-run single, and Sebasten Boivin closed it out and earned the win with three innings of relief.

In the other GNAC series, Montana State Billings and Saint Martin’s danced around a rainy weekend to complete their four-game set with the Yellowjackets winning three out of four. Starting pitching was the name of the game for MSUB, who got near-identical six-inning, one-run, three-strikeout starts from Dylan Barkley and Matthew Houlihan to help them win the first two games of the series. Conference Pitcher of the Week Connor Redmond was the best of them all, however, hurling 5.1 shutout innings with seven strikeouts and just four hits allowed.

In the week ahead, the conference’s two Mountain Time Zone programs will duke it out with Northwest Nazarene traveling to MSUB for four games. After losing two lopsided affairs to Lewis-Clark State, 11-1 and 18-5, Central Washington will hope a return to GNAC play for four games against Saint Martin’s will be kinder. Western Oregon has the week off from GNAC action but will host Bushnell on Tuesday for a non-conference game.


Grant Kerry, Northwest Nazarene
OF • 6-3 • So. • Wynward, England
Kerry batted .385 with a .529 on-base percentage and a .769 slugging percentage to help lead the Nighthawks to a key series victory over Western Oregon. He had a hit in each game of the series, which included an RBI single to open the scoring in Friday’s 5-3 opening-game victory. He went 1 for 3 and drew three walks in the nightcap. Kerry went 2 for 4 and scored a pair of runs in Saturday’s 5-4 opening-game win and sparked a rally with his three-run homer in the fifth inning in the 6-5 win in the second game.

Also Nominated: Austin Ohland (Central Washington), Carson Green (Montana State Billings), Cody Chavis (Saint Martin’s), Jacob Maiben (Western Oregon).

Connor Redmond, MSUB
RHP • 6-3 • Sr. • Danville, Calif.
Redmond earned a 5-0 win over Saint Martin’s on Sunday, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out seven in 5.1 innings as he improved to 3-3 on the season.

Also Nominated: Josh Touhey (Central Washington), Haden Keller (Northwest Nazarene), Justice Yamashita (Saint Martin’s), Mike Peterson (Western Oregon).


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• Central Washington lost a pair of non-conference games to Lewis-Clark State on Thursday in Ellensburg, falling 11-1 in the opener and 18-5 in the nightcap.
Austin Ohland was Central’s brightest offensive performer, batting .429 (3 for 7) with three RBI, two runs scored, a double and a home run. Ohland doubled and came around to score the Wildcats’ only run of the game in the opener before hitting a two-run home run and driving home a third run with a groundout in the nightcap. Ohland leads Division II with 15 doubles and ranks tied for second in the GNAC with five home runs.
Zach Berryman batted 2 for 6, doubling and tripling in the second game Thursday. Berryman’s triple drove home two runs. He ranks fifth in the GNAC with a .337 batting average and fourth with a .437 on-base percentage.
Josh Touhey held his own amidst a tough week on the mound for CWU, giving up three hits and a run in 3.1 innings in the second game. Brayde Hirai was the only Wildcat hurler with a scoreless outing, pitching the seventh inning of the nightcap and giving up one hit. Hirai has a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings this season.
• Central Washington currently has a conference-leading .287 batting average but a GNAC-worst 7.47 team ERA. Center fielder Adam Fahsel leads the GNAC in hits (35) and runs scored (23) while ranking third in batting average (.350).
• Central Washington will return to GNAC play looking to snap a four-game losing streak, remaining in Ellensburg to host Saint Martin’s for doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday.

• Montana State Billings took three of four from Saint Martin’s on the road in Lacey. The Yellowjackets won on Friday, 10-3, and Saturday, 4-1, before splitting a doubleheader Sunday, losing the first game 4-3 but rebounding to take the finale 5-0.
• The Yellowjackets currently sit at .500 in both GNAC play (4-4) and overall play (13-13).
Carson Green was a dynamic force at the top of MSUB’s lineup. The center fielder went 6 for 15 (.400) with two RBI. Green got the series off to a perfect start by leading off the top of the first with a home run off SMU’s Zach Alcos. In his next at-bat, Green singled through the left side to drive in another run.
• The Yellowjackets ran away with the series opener behind a seven-run third inning, which included Green’s RBI single and back-to-back two-run doubles from Tyler Godfrey and Mason Powell. Powell also hit RBI doubles in each of Sunday’s two games, batting .267 with four hits, four RBI and three doubles for the week. Godfrey scored three runs, with Powell driving him in twice and Mitch Winter once via a two-run home run in Sunday’s nightcap shutout win.
• Montana State Billings received terrific starting pitching, led by GNAC Pitcher of the Week Connor Redmond. The senior righty threw 5.1 shutout innings in Sunday’s nightcap, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out seven before Tyler Elliott finished it up with 1.2 perfect innings. Redmond has a 5.52 ERA this season and leads the GNAC in strikeout/walk ratio (8.00) and walks per nine innings (1.27).
• The Yellowjackets are batting .261 and have a 6.38 ERA, ranking third in the GNAC in both. They lead the conference in walks (111) and triples (nine).
• Montana State Billings will host conference front-runners Northwest Nazarene for doubleheaders Friday and Saturday.

• Northwest Nazarene took a potentially significant step towards another GNAC title, winning three of four from a Western Oregon team that the Nighthawks entered the series tied for first with. The two teams split on Friday, with NNU winning the opener 5-3 before WOU pulled out a marathon 6-4 win in 12 innings. On Saturday, the Nighthawks scored a pair of one-run victories, 5-4 and 6-5.
Grant Kerry earned GNAC Player of the Week honors, his second award of the year and the second consecutive for NNU. Kerry batted .385 (5 for 13) with four RBI, three runs scored, a triple, a home run and four walks. The bulk of Kerry’s damage came on a three-run home run in the fifth inning of Saturday’s nightcap that became very significant in a 6-5 victory.
• Northwest Nazarene relied on clutch home runs in every one of its victories. On Friday, shortstop Parker Price hit a tie-breaking two-run bomb in the seventh inning to provide the final 5-3 margin. On Saturday, Duke Pahukoa erased a 4-1 deficit with a three-run shot to tie it in the bottom of the ninth. Northwest Nazarene completed the comeback later in the inning with a walk-off single from Walker Moore before Kerry’s blast helped secure the nightcap win.
Max Holtzclaw recorded a pair of saves to bring his season total to a Division II-leading eight. Other highlights included Kyle Ethridge throwing 6.1 innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts in the series opener and reliever Joseph Ihli tallying nine strikeouts in 4.2 innings in the 12-inning loss.
• Northwest Nazarene is batting .277 and leads the conference in hits (252), home runs (28) and fewest strikeouts (191). On the mound, NNU has a 4.89 team ERA with a league-high 10 saves and 247 strikeouts.
• The Nighthawks are fifth in the latest NCBWA West Region poll, down from fourth last week. After two weeks out of the polls entirely, the Nighthawks received votes for the NCBWA national poll.
• Northwest Nazarene will take a trip to Montana for two games with MSUB on Friday and two more on Saturday.

• Saint Martin’s lost three of four to Montana State Billings, losing Friday 10-3 and Saturday 4-1 before avoiding a sweep with a Sunday doubleheader split. The Saints took the opening game 4-3 before falling 5-0 in the finale.
Cody Chavis hit .417 (5 for 12) with four RBI, including a two-run double that kicked off the scoring in the Saints’ Sunday victory. Chavis also had a two-run triple in the ninth inning of the series opener that cut MSUB’s lead to the final margin of 10-3.
Aaron Renaud batted .308 (4 for 13) with a double and a sacrifice fly in Friday’s loss. Renaud is batting a team-leading .299 this season and is tied for second in the GNAC with five home runs.
Finnley Butler and Brock Wrolstad combined on the Saints’ seven-inning victory on Sunday. Butler threw four innings, giving up one run on four hits and three walks, while Wrolstad gave up two runs, one earned, in three innings while walking three and striking out six. Wrolstad earned the win after Saint Martin’s won the game in their final at-bat on a sacrifice fly from Reid Little.
Justice Yamashita (2.79) and Butler (3.71) give Saint Martin’s multiple starting pitchers with sub-4.00 ERAs, the only team in the conference to currently hold that distinction.
• The Saints have a .247 team batting average and a 7.27 team ERA, ranking fourth in the conference in both.
• Saint Martin’s will head to Ellensburg for a four-game set with Central Washington, with two on Saturday and Sunday.

• Western Oregon lost three of four to Northwest Nazarene, slipping behind the Nighthawks into second place in the GNAC standings. The Wolves lost 5-3 on Friday before grinding out a 12-innings 6-4 victory in the nightcap, then suffered a pair of one-run losses on Saturday, 5-4 and 6-5.
•  Western Oregon’s top-ranked pitching staff had its hands full containing the clutch bats of NNU, but the Wolves succeeded in holding the Nighthawks at bay to gut out their victory in Friday’s nightcap. After Bryce Bond began the game with four innings of one-run ball, WOU got 1.2 hitless innings from Chris Hardin, 1.1 innings from Seth Kuykendall, two one-hit innings from Dwayne Angebrandt and three innings from Sebasten Boivin, who eventually earned the win on Jackson Holstad’s two-run single.
• The Maiben brothers were the GNAC’s two hottest hitters over the past week. Jacob Maiben hit .438 (7 for 16) with two RBI and four runs scored while Derek Maiben hit .429 (6 for 14) with four RBI, three runs scored and four walks. Jacob and Derek also went 2 for 3 and 3 for 4, respectively, in stolen base attempts. Derek leads the GNAC with 13 stolen bases and Jacob is in second with 10. Both have been caught only twice this season.
• The Wolves came agonizingly close to winning the series themselves. In Saturday’s opener, Mike Peterson put together his best outing of the season, throwing 7.2 innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and walking none. Unfortunately, Kuykendall was unable to hold a ninth-inning lead as NNU rallied, handing Peterson a no-decision. The Wolves tried to mount a comeback of their own in the nightcap, cutting a 6-2 ninth-inning deficit to 6-5 behind a solo shot from Anthony Zellner and a two-run home run from Derek Maiben (scoring Jacob), but WOU couldn’t push a final run across.
• Western Oregon has a GNAC-low .245 batting average and a league-leading 4.12 ERA. The Wolves rank 19th in Division II with a .973 fielding percentage and also lead the league in sacrifice bunts (16), sacrifice flies (13) and stolen bases (42).
• The Wolves sit seventh in the latest NCBWA West Region Poll, down from fifth last week.
• Western Oregon will not play any conference games this week. They host Bushnell for a single non-conference tilt on Tuesday.