No-Hitter Caps Wild Week Of Walk-Offs
Northwest Nazarene teammates celebrate with Haden Keller (center, holding hat) after Keller threw the sixth no-hitter in GNAC history in a 3-1 victory on Saturday against Central Washington.
Northwest Nazarene teammates celebrate with Haden Keller (center, holding hat) after Keller threw the sixth no-hitter in GNAC history in a 3-1 victory on Saturday against Central Washington.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Northwest Nazarene, picked in the preseason to win the GNAC, went a long way towards validating that prediction with a dominant four-game sweep of Central Washington, extending its lead in the standings to three games as second-place Western Oregon and third-place Montana State Billings played to a four-game split.  

In sweeping CWU, Northwest Nazarene shut down a Wildcat offense that entered the series batting .306 and scoring nearly seven runs per game. Nighthawk pitchers held CWU to nine runs in the four-game series, punctuated with an exclamation point by GNAC Pitcher of the Week Haden Keller throwing a no-hitter in the series finale.

Keller’s gem is the sixth no-no in GNAC history and the second for Northwest Nazarene as a Division II program. In the seven-inning game, Keller walked three and hit two batters but struck out 10 in a 3-1 victory. Central Washington scored an unearned run on a three-base error followed by an RBI groundout in the sixth inning. A two-way player all season, Keller also hit for himself and went 1 for 3 with an RBI fielder’s choice to drive in the only earned run of the game.

The last GNAC no-hitter came on April 25, 2019, as Western Oregon’s Austin Crowson defeated Concordia (Ore.) 2-0. Northwest Nazarene’s only other previous no-hitter in Division II was a combined effort by Roger Evenson and Steven Schutte in a five-inning game in 2003.

Prior to Keller’s no-hitter stealing the headlines, the week was marked by three walk-off finishes in Friday’s four games, plus a Western Oregon walk-off over George Fox on Tuesday. Montana State Billings second baseman/designated hitter Tyler Godfrey was responsible for two of them on his own.

Godfrey, the GNAC Player of the Week, finished off a four-run Yellowjacket rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to stun Western Oregon 8-7 in the series opener. After MSUB loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter, Hayden Foltz hit a two-run single up the middle, cutting the deficit to 7-6. After an intentional walk, Cooper Dulich was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run before Godfrey singled to plate Foltz and end the ballgame.

In the nightcap, Godfrey made the winning moment much more straightforward. After WOU rallied with a three-run sixth to tie the game at 4-4, Godfrey came up with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and connected on a solo home run to right field, creating a mob at home plate for the second consecutive game. In addition to their GNAC accolades, Keller and Godfrey were also named the West Region Pitcher and Player of the Week by the NCBWA.

Northwest Nazarene got in on the walk-off action on Friday as well. After a two-out single and a hit batter put two men on, Alex Salsman cranked a three-run homer to left field to give NNU a 7-4 victory. The Nighthawks made Friday’s nightcap drama-free, erupting for five runs in the second inning and seven runs in the sixth during a 17-4 win.

With the top three teams qualifying for the GNAC Championships and four weekends left in the season, time is running out for fourth-place Saint Martin’s and fifth-place Central Washington. Each team will have an opportunity to bank some home wins this weekend. The Saints will host Northwest Nazarene while the Wildcats will host Western Oregon. The SMU/NNU series will take place Thursday and Friday while the CWU/WOU series will be Friday and Saturday.


Tyler Godfrey, Montana State Billings
IF • 5-10 • Fr. • Buckeye, Ariz.
Godfrey batted .429 in the Yellowjackets’ series split with Western Oregon and had the game-winning hit in both victories. In Friday’s opener, Godfrey went 2 for 5 with a two-run single in the sixth and the game-winning single that scored Hayden Foltz for the 8-7 victory. The nightcap saw Godfrey go 3 for 4 with a two-run double that opened scored and a game-winning solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in the 5-4 win. For the week, Godfrey went 6 for 14 with two runs scored and seven RBI.

Also Nominated:
Zach Berryman (Central Washington), Ryan Dearing (Northwest Nazarene), Jackson Holstad (Western Oregon).

Haden Keller, Northwest Nazarene
OF/RHP • 5-11 • Sr. • Minden, Nev.
Keller threw the second no-hitter in Northwest Nazarene’s Division II history and the sixth in GNAC history in a 3-1 victory over Central Washington on Saturday. Keller allowed the unearned run on three walks with 10 strikeouts while throwing 99 pitches, 64 for strikes. Keller helped his own cause by knocking in the only earned run of the game on a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning.

Also Nominated: Nolan Miliman (Central Washington).


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• Central Washington lost all four games on the road against league-leading Northwest Nazarene. The Wildcats lost 7-4 and 17-4 on Friday and 2-0 and 3-1 on Sunday.
• The Wildcats remain the top offense in the conference but were stymied this week by an electric NNU pitching staff. Tyler McClain provided Central’s biggest hit of the series, a two-run double in the series opener which tied the score at 3-3. Michael Copeland was the Wildcats’ top statistical producer, batting .357 (5 for 14) with a double, two runs scored and an RBI during the series.
• Except for the 17-run outburst in game two, Central Washington quietly had a solid series on the mound against the Nighthawks, particularly on Saturday. In Saturday’s opener, Nolan Miliman pitched five innings, giving up just two hits and an unearned run. In the nightcap, Dylan Weese also went five innings, allowing five hits and three runs, only one of which was earned. Miliman has a 5.84 ERA on the season while Weese’s is 9.49.
• Central Washington leads the GNAC with a .296 batting average and also has a league-high 7.71 team ERA. Left fielder Zach Berryman and center fielder Adam Fahsel rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the GNAC in hits (Berryman 53, Fahsel 51) and runs scored (Fahsel 40, Berryman 32). Catcher/first baseman Austin Ohland leads the conference in RBI (39) and ranks second in Division II with 20 doubles. The team leads the conference and ranks 46th in Division II with 356 hits.
• Central Washington will host Western Oregon for a four-game series on Friday and Saturday in Ellensburg. 

• Montana State Billings split a four-game series with a Western Oregon team they are jockeying with for second place in the conference. The Yellowjackets passed WOU in the standings by winning both Friday games, 8-7 and 5-4, before Western Oregon moved back into second by winning twice on Saturday, 8-6 and 10-6.
• Both of MSUB’s Friday wins came via a walk-off hit from GNAC Player of the Week Tyler Godfrey. In the series opener, the ‘Jackets rallied from a 7-4 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, with Godfrey’s single plating Hayden Foltz to complete the 8-7 comeback. With the second game tied in the seventh and final regulation inning, Godfrey hit a two-out walk-off solo home run to right field off Seth Kuykendall to send the fans home happy. For the week, Godfrey hit .429 (6 for 14) with seven RBI, six of which came on Friday. He also contributed a two-run single in Friday’s opener and a two-run double in Friday’s nightcap before his walk-off hits. Godfrey was also named the NCBWA West Region Player of the Week for his heroics.
• Foltz also had a big week, batting .400, scoring six runs and driving in four. His biggest hit was a two-run single that ignited the series-opening comeback before he scored the winning run on Godfrey’s hit. Carson Green homered twice while Cooper Dulich and James Anderson also went deep for the Yellowjackets. Dulich leads the conference with a .362 batting average while Anderson leads the conference with 29 walks and ranks third with six home runs.
Blake Rainey got the win in Friday’s opener, pitching 2.1 innings of one-hit, one-run relief. Matthew Houlihan threw 5.1 innings in the nightcap before Tyler Elliott pitched the final 1.2 innings, giving up one run on one hit and no walks and recording all five of his outs via the strikeout. Elliott has a 4-0 record and 4.11 ERA in 11 relief appearances this year.
• The Yellowjackets are batting .284 and have a 7.02 ERA, ranking third in the conference in both. Montana State Billings will be idle this week. They play next on April 22-23, when they host Saint Martin’s for a four-game series.

• Northwest Nazarene earned a four-game sweep of Central Washington, recording 7-4 and 17-4 victories on Friday and 2-0 and 3-1 wins on Saturday, the latter of which was a no-hitter thrown by Haden Keller.
•  Keller’s no-no was the sixth in conference history, all of which have come in seven-inning or five-inning games. The most recent no-hitter prior to Keller’s was thrown by Western Oregon’s Austin Crowson in a seven-inning game against Concordia (Ore.) on Apr. 25, 2019.
• Keller retired 10 Wildcats via strikeout, seven via groundout, three via flyout and one via lineout. He hit batters in the first and third innings and walked batters in the first, sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth inning, a run scored on a three-base error by the right fielder, followed by an RBI groundout. Keller struck out the side in the second and seventh innings. Keller was named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week and the West Region Pitcher of the Week by the NCBWA.
• Offensively, it was an ensemble effort for the Nighthawks. Parker Price had an RBI in all four games of the series. He tripled home a run in game one, had an RBI single in game two, a sacrifice fly in game three and a two-run single in game four. A quartet of players (Kyle Payne, Grant Kerry, Duke Pahukoa and Keller) drove in three runs apiece while hitting between .400 and .500 for the week. Alex Salsman went only 2 for 9 in the series but made his hits count with a walk-off three-run home run in Friday’s opener and an RBI single in the nightcap.
• While Keller had the heroic moment, it was also a staff-wide effort to hold a Central team averaging seven runs per game to 2.25 per game throughout the series, particularly the bullpen. Nick Irwin pitched 1.2 perfect innings of relief with three strikeouts in game two. In game three, Shane Martin pitched six one-hit innings of relief with seven strikeouts. Max Holtzclaw earned the win in Friday’s opener and his Division II-leading 10th save in game three.
• The Nighthawks are fifth in the latest NCBWA West Region poll, where they also ranked last week. Northwest Nazarene will travel to Saint Martin’s for four games on Thursday and Friday.

• Saint Martin’s was idle this past week. They lost three out of four to Western Oregon on April 1-2. After losing the opener 9-2, the Saints rallied with a 3-2 win in the nightcap on April 1 but lost twice on April 2, 2-1 and 8-0.
Justice Yamashita is making a case to be the Saints’ most valuable player and possibly the conference’s best pitcher. Yamashita shut down another GNAC team to give SMU their only win of the series, giving up two runs on two hits in seven innings during the nightcap for his third complete-game effort of the season. Yamashita walked three and struck out eight. He ranks second in the GNAC in ERA (2.72), fifth in strikeouts (46) and second with a .211 opponent batting average.  
Aaron Renaud accounted for nearly a quarter of SMU’s 17 hits for the week, going 4 for 11 (.364) with two doubles and two RBI. Renaud was critical to the Saints’ 3-2 victory, doubling home Ryne Oshiro in the first inning before tallying the eventual game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Renaud leads the team with a .301 batting average and is tied for third in the GNAC with six home runs.
Austin Schaler hit 3 for 7 (.429) with a double and two triples. He had two hits in SMU’s win, scoring the tying run in the fifth inning, then tripled again in Saturday’s opener. Schaler now leads the GNAC with four triples this season.
• The Saints have a .244 team batting average and a 7.07 team ERA. They lead the GNAC with 24 double plays turned and rank second with seven triples.
• Saint Martin’s will host Northwest Nazarene for a four-game series on Thursday and Friday.

• Western Oregon earned a four-game road split with Montana State Billings, maintaining a one-game lead over MSUB for second place in the GNAC standings. The Wolves lost twice on Friday in walk-off fashion, 8-7 and 5-4, before rallying to win 8-6 and 10-6 on Saturday. Earlier, Western Oregon topped George Fox in a nonconference game on Tuesday, winning 3-2 in 10 innings.
•  Jackson Holstad had a banner week for the Wolves. The junior outfielder hit a walk-off double to beat George Fox on Tuesday before hitting two momentous three-run homers in Saturday’s wins. In the opener, Holstad’s shot came in the eighth inning and broke a 5-5 tie, providing WOU a lead they would not relinquish in an 8-6 win. In the series finale, Holstad hit another three-run bomb in the fourth inning to put the Wolves up 5-3, the first three of eight unanswered runs that WOU would score in the eventual 10-6 victory. For the week, Holstad batted .368 (7 for 19) with two home runs, four doubles, seven RBI and four runs scored.
• Holstad was one of three Western Oregon players with two home runs this week, as Justyn Herzog and John Stark also went deep twice. Jacob Maiben continued to be an on-base machine, batting .389 (7 for 18) while drawing four walks. Maiben leads the GNAC in on-base percentage (.469) and is third in batting average (.357).
• Western Oregon’s pitching staff had some uncharacteristic stumbles in allowing MSUB to average over six runs per game and pull off two walk-off wins. One player who was as good as ever was Sebasten Boivin, who allowed no runs, two hits and two walks in five innings over two relief appearances. Western Oregon leads the conference and ranks 26th in Division II with a 4.04 ERA and 21st in Division II with a team 1.36 WHIP.   
• The Wolves held steady at sixth in the latest NCBWA West Region Poll. They are batting .251 and lead the GNAC with 50 stolen bases.
• Western Oregon will travel to Central Washington for a four-game series played on Friday and Saturday.