Wolves’ baseball lost two games 4-9 and 4-11 to Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) in their final regular season games Friday, May 2 and Sunday, May 4.
The Wolves finished their regular season with a record of 29-19 overall and a record of 22-10 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). They took home the conference regular season title for the 13th straight season the previous week, with the GNAC Championships scheduled to begin Thursday, May 8, but a rainout pushed the start back to Friday.
“The team that executes the best is going to win [the tournament],” said head coach Kellen Walker. “It’s not a secret recipe. The team that plays the cleanest and best baseball is going to come out on top.”
Western honored 12 seniors that played in their final regular season game at home on Sunday. The long list of seniors comprised shortstop Josh Solemsaas, catcher Will Chavarria, second baseman Parker Miles, utility man Will Minice, outfielders Chris Bradshaw and Daniel McNabb and pitchers Taylor Hetrick, Matt Minnich, Kody Stone, Vince Ampi, Chase Tokunaga and Spenser Watkins were honored after the game by their teammates, coaches and fans.
The first inning of game one was scoreless until junior second baseman Jake Whisler hit a run-scoring single that brought home McNabb and Bradshaw and then scored Whisler and junior infielder Garret Harpole with a double to left field. LCSC evened the score with three runs in the top of the third. McNabb hit a triple that brought in Miles in the top of the fourth but the Wolves would not score again.
The teams combined for 26 hits on Friday with McNabb and Miles with two hits apiece. Watkins allowed seven hits and four earned runs through four innings. Watkins struck out three batters and walked one.
“We need to be able to throw strikes and play defense,” said Whisler. “You can't expect to win when you walk guys and make errors. That's why we didn't do well against LCSC and we will need to change that in order to be successful this weekend in the tournament.”
The Warriors of LCSC are second in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, 13-2 against GNAC opponents this season and are now 4-1 against the Wolves this year after the 11-4 victory on Sunday.
The Wolves trailed 4-0 early in game two, but got a two-run double from Harpole. Solemsaas brought in Harpole with a groundout later in the inning to cut the lead to 4-3. LCSC added six runs total during the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and cruised the rest of the way to victory. Junior catcher Michael Sherwin hit a double down the left-field line, scoring McNabb for the Wolves’ final run. Junior pitcher Eric Huson allowed four earned runs on five hits in two innings. The Wolves had two errors in the game and used nine total pitchers.
The Wolves begin their postseason at the second annual GNAC Championship, hosted once again by Western. The two-day tournament brings in #2-seeded Central Washington University and #3-seeded Saint Martin’s University for the round-robin, double-elimination tournament.
“We expect them to come out swinging,” said McNabb. “We’re just going to attack both teams with intensity. We know they both can play and we’re going to do our best to keep them contained.”