Wildcats Rally to Sweep Crusaders in GNAC Double-HeaderPosted: Updated:
ELLENSBURG, Wash - Central Washington University scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally from a two-run deficit and claim a sweep of its Great Northwest Athletic Conference baseball doubleheader with visiting Northwest Nazarene University on Saturday afternoon at Tomlinson Field. The Wildcats won the nightcap, 4-3, after taking the opening game by a 6-4 score.
With the wins, Central Washington won its fourth conference series in as many weekends this spring, improving to 18-11 overall. The Wildcats also maintain their 1 1/2 game lead in the GNAC standings by improving to 12-3 in conference play. Northwest Nazarene fell to 21-15 overall and 5-11 in GNAC action.
The Wildcats took the second game after rallying from a 3-1 late-inning deficit in what started out as a pitcher's duel. CWU left-hander Jordan Moore (Nine Mile Falls, Wash./Lakeside HS) tangled with NNU right-hander Nick Holloway in a game that was tied at 1-1 entering the sixth inning. The Crusaders then rallied for two runs against Moore, highlighted by two-out RBI singles by Jimmy VanBeek and Mitch Kochis.
NNU scored the game's first run on a solo home run by VanBeek in the top of the second -- his fourth round-tripper of the season. Central then responded in the bottom of the third as senior Jamie Nilsen (Federal Way, Wash./Thomas Jefferson HS) reached with a one-out single and came home three batters later on junior Frank Donangelo's (Monterey, Calif./Palma HS) sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the seventh, senior Tyler Scoggin (Lacey, Wash./North Thurston HS) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. After the Crusaders went to the bullpen for closer Nate Slonaker, Nilsen drew a walk. Junior A.J. Gosney (Veradale, Wash./Central Valley HS) then laid down a bunt that was fielded by NNU first baseman Joel Oliver, but his ensuing throw to first base was mishandled allowing the Wildcats to load the bases with nobody out. Consecutive singles by Nate Rylaarsdam (Mount Vernon, Wash.) and Donangelo tied the score, and after a strikeout, pinch-hitter Sean Sloppy (Kennewick, Wash.) worked his way for a walk that scored the game-winner.
Nilsen, the top hitter in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, finished the series finale with three hits in as many at-bats to improve his season average to .447. Gosney, Rylaarsdam, and Donangelo added two hits each as the top four spots in the Wildcat lineup combined for nine of Central's 11 hits in the game. CWU sophomore Kevin Walkenhauer (Yakima, Wash./West Valley HS) picked up the pitching victory in relief after throwing a scoreless seventh.
In the first game of the day, Central Washington used a four-run first inning to jumpstart its 6-4 victory. Senior John Lobbestael (Port Orchard, Wash./South Kitsap HS) had a two-run single to cap the opening flurry against NNU pitcher Alex VanOeveren.
The early lead was sufficient for CWU sophomore pitcher Michael McCanna (Addy, Wash./Jenkins HS), who pitched six innings and improved to 5-0 on the season with the victory after allowing just four hits and striking out eight.
After the Wildcats' lead extended to 5-0 on a double by Nilsen and RBI single by Rylaarsdam in the fifth, Northwest Nazarene chipped away at the margin with a two-run sixth inning. VanBeek drove in a run with a single and Ryan Bailey walked with the bases loaded to make it a 5-2 count. Central scored once in the bottom of the sixth after back-to-back two-out doubles by Dane Riner (Memphis, Tenn./Bartlett HS) and Scoggin, and that margin remained intact until the top of the ninth. In the final inning, the visiting Crusaders scored a pair of runs against redshirt freshman reliever Jake Millbauer (Kennewick, Wash./Kamiakin HS), but Millbauer escaped with the tying run at the plate to earn his second save of the season.
Nilsen and Scoggin each had two-hit games for the Wildcats, who managed just six safeties against VanOeveren and reliever Tyler Liebelt. The Crusaders countered with seven hits, with two apiece from Severo Rodriguez and Zach Aaukhus.
Central Washington, which finished its eight-game home stand with a 7-1 record and has won 18 of its last 22 games overall, will travel to Western Oregon (22-12, 10-4 GNAC) next weekend in a pivotal four-game series with the six-time defending league champions. CWU won three of four games from the Wolves when the two teams met in Ellensburg in early March.