CWU Splits Series With Dixie State - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

CWU Splits Series With Dixie State

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ST. GEORGE, Utah - Central Washington University senior shortstop Jamie Nilsen (Federal Way, Wash./Thomas Jefferson HS) hit his school-record-tying 21st career home run in the first game, and scored the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning of game two as the Wildcats split a baseball doubleheader with host Dixie State on Sunday at Bruce Hurst Field. Central dropped the opener, 4-1, before earning a come-from-behind 5-4 win in the series finale.

The Wildcats salvaged the final game of the four-game series and snapped a seven-game season-opening skid in the process. Dixie State suffered just its second loss of the young campaign, falling to 6-2.

A four-run fifth inning in the second game enabled the Wildcats to rally from an early 4-0 deficit. Central pounded out five of its nine hits for the game in that inning, knotting the score on a two-out RBI single by sophomore Kevin Walkenhauer (Yakima, Wash./West Valley HS).

Sophomore Michael McCanna (Addy, Wash./Jenkins HS) had an impressive pitching outing, throwing the final 6 2/3 innings in relief of senior starter Craig Johnson (Yakima, Wash./West Valley HS). McCanna allowed just three hits in his work, striking out four and walking five but earning the victory (1-0) after the ninth-inning game-winning heroics.

In the final frame, Nilsen started a two-out rally with a double to right-center, and then scored on a single by junior A.J. Gosney (Veradale, Wash./Central Valley HS) to give Central the lead. McCanna struck out the first hitter he faced in the bottom of the ninth before Matt Rynearson singled, but consecutive flyouts preserved the Wildcats' first victory of the campaign.

Nilsen, Frank Donangelo (Monterey, Calif./Palma HS) and Dane Riner (Memphis, Tenn./Bartlett HS) all had two hits for CWU in the finale, with Nilsen scoring a team-best two runs.

In the opener, Nilsen's sixth-inning blast was his second home run of the season, and was just the third hit of the game for Central to that point. The round-tripper enabled him to move into a tie with former Wildcat great Joe Dawson (1985-88) on the all-time career home run list at CWU.

Two defensive miscues by the Wildcats were converted into three unearned runs by the Rebels. Dixie State's leadoff hitter reached on an error in the first, scoring on Kyle Pratt's one-out, two-run home run, and the hosts then scored two insurance runs with the aid of a Central error in the bottom of the sixth.

After going hitless for the first three innings, Central picked up one hit each in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings before totaling two hits in the top of the seventh. However, four of the Wildcats' five hits were singles.

Junior Derek Shoemaker (Moses Lake, Wash.) was the hard-luck loser on the mound for Central, dropping his record to 0-2. He pitched all six innings, scattering five hits and striking out four without walking a batter.

Dixie State's Kris Cicoski earned the win (2-0), fanning four and allowing just three hits over six innings. Nick Orgill pitched a scoreless seventh for his first save of the season.

After eight straight games on the road to open the season, Central Washington is scheduled to make its 2008 home debut next Saturday (Feb. 23). The Wildcats host Corban College (Ore.) in a noon doubleheader before opening Great Northwest Athletic Conference play on Feb. 29 at Saint Martin's.

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