Sunday's 11-inning game first in GSC Tournament since 2006
Once again, Western Oregon has established itself as the team to beat in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. All one has to do is look at the recent track record of the Wolves, who have won the conference championship every year since joining Division II in 2002.
The Wolves won their latest title on Friday, defeating Northwest Nazarene 4-0 in the opening game of a doubleheader. It marks the 10th consecutive GNAC championship for the Wolves, who capped the twin bill with a 2-1 win.
The feeling of winning never gets old for Western Oregon, and head coach Jeremiah Robbins talked about his team’s ability to maintain a high level of play despite being the team everyone wants to knock off.
“When you go into the season with a bullseye on your back, it is always tough to come out on top,” Robbins said. “It means a lot for each of our guys to get that title. This year was very special because we had such a large amount of turnover on our roster. To see this group embrace that pressure and achieve their number one goal was nice.”
Grady Wood pitched a one-hit shutout and struck out six while inducing 15 groundouts in the title-clinching win for the Wolves (33-13, 23-5 GNAC).
Grant Glover led the way on offense, tallying a double and finishing with three hits. The Wolves finished with 12 hits in all, including a home run by AJ Royal, his first in a Western Oregon uniform.
Kirk Lind got the start in the second game and gave up only one run on six hits while striking out seven. The Wolves had only three hits, with Daniel Dillard tallying two doubles to pace the offense.
Western Oregon is ranked second in the West Region with four games left on its schedule before the NCAA Tournament.
The Wolves' success this season is not at all a surprise to Robbins.
“The biggest key to our success has been our team chemistry,” Robbins said. “They believe in each other and go out and compete every time. We will continue to stay together as a team and embrace any opportunity that may present itself.”
- Gulf South Conference Tournament
Arkansas Tech is the fourth seed in the GSC Tournament, but the Wonder Boys are still alive after knocking off second-seeded North Alabama on Sunday.
Arkansas Tech won 4-3 in 11 innings, marking the first time there has been an 11-inning game in the tournament since 2006 when Southern Arkansas beat North Alabama 11-10.
Colt Loehrs hit a game-winning single in the 11th to lift Arkansas Tech to the win. The Wonder Boys have now won two games in the tourney for the first time since 2001 when they finished as the runner-up.
Harding, West Florida and Southern Arkansas are also still alive in the tourney, which continues today at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn.
The Wonder Boys (31-18) snapped a three-game losing streak to the Lions on a day when Matt Johnson extended his hitting streak to 32 games with a double.
Nate Wilder earned the win and improved to 2-0 on the year. He worked the final six innings, a season-high, and gave up just three hits and did not allow a run. Arkansas Tech will play Southern Arkansas later today in the semifinals.