Wildcats Sweep 'JacketsPosted: Updated:
ELLENSBURG, Wash - Central Washington senior Jamie Nilsen (Federal Way, Wash./Thomas Jefferson HS) went 6 for 9 with five runs scored, including his school-record 22nd career home run, and two senior pitchers threw complete-game victories as the Wildcats completed a four-game sweep of visiting Montana State Billings, 11-1 and 6-1, in Great Northwest Athletic Conference baseball action on Sunday.
With the wins, Central Washington extends its conference win streak to seven games and is now 15-10 overall (9-2 GNAC). The Wildcats hold a two-game lead in the conference standings over Saint Martin's (8-5), who was rained out on Sunday at Western Oregon. Montana State Billings, a first-year member of the GNAC, fell to 4-16 and 0-8 in conference play.
The efforts of Nilsen and senior right-hander Tyler Levin (Everett, Wash.) highlighted the Wildcats' 10-run victory in Sunday's opening game. Nilsen had hits in each of his final four at-bats of the game, including a solo home run over the left-center field fence to lead off the bottom of the third inning. Although just his third of the season, the blast enabled Nilsen to pass Joe Dawson (1985-88) on the school's career home run list. Nilsen added three singles later in the game to lead Central's 14-hit attack.
Montana State Billings struck first against Levin, with Matt Kakalecik hitting a solo home run on the first pitch of the second inning. Levin settled after that, however, scattering six other hits over the final seven innings. He mastered the Yellowjacket hitters, striking out each batter in their starting lineup at least once with the exception of Matt Schoonover.
Offensively, Central flexed its muscles for its second-highest single-game hit total this year. Every spot in the Wildcat lineup had at least one hit, including at least one safety from eight of nine starters. CWU scored two runs each in the second, third, and fourth innings to take a 6-1 lead, and then used a four-run seventh and one-run eighth to complete the victory.
Hank Anderson (Spokane, Wash./Joel E. Ferris HS) and Andrew Snowdon (Renton, Wash./Lindbergh HS) each finished with two hits, including a pair of doubles from Anderson, who now has a nine-game hitting streak and has accounted for all but one of his nine extra-base hits for the season in his six games this week. Nilsen, Anderson and Dane Riner (Memphis, Tenn./Bartlett HS) each drove in two. Kakalecik and Cole Pryor had two hits each for Montana State Billings.
In the series finale, Central Washington never trailed, scoring the game's first five runs. Senior left-hander Jordan Moore (Nine Mile Falls, Wash./Lakeside HS) had his finest pitching performance of the season, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Kakalecik reached on a check-swing infield single. Moore, who finished with a career-high eight strikeouts, maintained the shutout until the sixth when MSU Billings picked up two of its four hits including a RBI single by Schoonover with two out.
Central scored its first run after a triple by Nilsen to start the game. He then crossed the plate on a wild pitch, and started the Wildcats' three-run third by reaching on an error and stealing second. Nate Rylaarsdam (Mount Vernon, Wash.) plated Nilsen with a single and, after successive singles by Frank Donangelo (Monterey, Calif./Palma HS) and Anderson, Snowdon forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk. Two batters later, Riner did the same to give CWU a 4-0 lead.
The Wildcats doubled up the Yellowjackets in the hit department, 8-4, with Nilsen, Rylaarsdam, and Donangelo each picking up two hits.
Central Washington completed the weekend series with four complete games from its pitching staff, striking out 32 MSU Billings hitters and walking just nine in 32 innings of work. The Wildcats also finished the series with a 39-24 edge in hits and outscored the Yellowjackets 29-5.
The Wildcats will have the next 11 days off from games before returning to action Apr. 4 against Northwest Nazarene in the first two of a four-game series at Tomlinson Field.
NOTES: Nilsen is now just the second player in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history with 200 or more career runs scored (204) ... Levin threw his first wild pitch in a CWU uniform in game one, a career that now spans 133 2/3 innings ... CWU is now 4-5 in games played on Easter Sunday since becoming a NCAA Division II member in baseball in 2002.