By: Burke De Boer Sports Editor
Wolves baseball busted out the brooms in a series sweep of Concordia, extending their conference record to 6-0 to start the season.
Western Oregon’s trip to Portland saw them win the first game 6-3, then pull off both halves of a double header 2-1 and 9-2.
The wins helped Western Oregon baseball climb back into the National Collegiate Baseball Writers west region poll, now ranked at number eight.
The winning pitchers were first year student Connor McCord, junior Craig Grubbe and senior Trey Smith. First year student Kade Mechals and junior Cam Walker both picked up saves for their late inning efforts.
The first game saw the Wolves go into the eighth inning trailing 2-3. Nine Western runners had been left stranded throughout the first seven innings.
Starting pitcher Brady Miller had been pulled and McCord brought on in relief. Since McCord took the mound at the end of the fourth inning, Concordia was held to their three points. McCord had surrendered no hits and struck out two. But the Wolves offense would need to close on scoring opportunities if the defensive performance was to garner anything.
The eighth inning opened with first year outfielder Torreahno Sweet, who had batted in one of the Wolves’ earlier runs, getting on base with a single. Junior Jay Leverett then slugged a home run over left field to take the lead.
The runs continued to pour in and McCord shut down Concordia, picking up a total of six strikeouts in his four and one-third innings.
“It felt great to help my team win this week,” Sweet said, after getting his first at bats of the season. “We worked hard at practice and the results showed.”
The Wolves never trailed throughout the Sunday double header as they powered their way to the sweep.
The first game of the day was a defensive match, as the Wolves won 2-1.
Craig Grubbe struck out five, allowed only two hits and gave up no runs in his six innings pitched.
The final game of the series was the most explosive for the Wolves as they put up nine runs on Concordia. Sophomore catcher Justin Wakem scored two runs and batted in a third. Junior third baseman Nyles Nygaard had three RBIs on the day.
“Once the game starts, it’s all about picking up your teammates and focusing on the little things to achieve our common goal,” Nygaard said. “Our coach emphasizes a term, ‘This pitch.’ If we focus on the pitch at hand, we will win every game because we are taking care of what’s present. We aren’t looking ahead at the what-ifs and we aren’t looking back.”
The six game win streak to open conference play sees Western Oregon on top of the GNAC standings and the only undefeated team in conference.
The Wolves are in Monmouth this week, hosting Corban on March 15 and Central Washington on March 18 and 19.
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