(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
MONMOUTH, Ore. – Scoring early and adding on late, Western Oregon University handed the Montana State University Billings baseball team a season-ending 7-2 defeat on Saturday afternoon at the WOU Baseball Field on the final day of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships.
The Yellowjackets finished the 2022 season with a record of 26-27, taking third place in the GNAC regular-season standings and falling one win shy of reaching the GNAC Championships title game. “I am grateful for this group of young men and how they worked,” said MSUB head coach Derek Waddoups, who completed his third season in charge of the program. “We accomplished a lot of great things on and off the field this season.”
Western Oregon (33-18) plays No. 1 Seed Northwest Nazarene for the conference title and automatic berth into the NCAA D2 West Region Championships later on Saturday afternoon.
Tyler Godfrey was 2-for-4 to lead the Yellowjacket offense, which was limited to seven hits and was held scoreless over the final seven innings by WOU starter Parker Johnson, who went the distance to send his team into the conference title game. Johnson needed just 80 pitches on Saturday, striking out three and walking just one while allowing two runs – one earned.
The Wolves got on the board in the top of the first inning, with Jacob Maiben and Derek Maiben leading off the game with back-to-back singles. John Stark plated the first run with an RBI-ground out, before Leighton Moniz legged out an infield single with two outs to make the score 2-0.
The Yellowjackets responded immediately with two outs in the bottom of the first, with Mitch Winter punching a base hit into right field that brought home Hayden Foltz.
MSUB starter Connor Redmond was unfazed by a base hit and an error to start the second inning, as he used a double play turned by Mason Powell and Godfrey before picking off Levi Cummings at first to end the inning.
MSUB took advantage of a WOU error in the bottom of the second to tie the score, as Godfrey made his way to second before Carson Green delivered a one-out, RBI-single to make it 2-2.
Redmond did his part, limiting the Wolves to two runs on four hits while striking out two and walking two before handing the ball off to Zimmer in the fourth after suffering an injury. “Watching (Dylan) Barkley, Redmond, and (Matthew) Houlihan pitch and excel in the postseason was a highlight,” Waddoups said on the three seniors who started MSUB’s three games at the tournament. “There is always disappointment and some heartbreak when you don’t finish with a win. But I am excited for the future of Yellowjacket baseball with the young core group that we will be returning.”
After Zimmer retired the first seven hitters he faced, the Wolves broke through with two runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead. Spencer Weston came through with a clutch, two-out single to center that brought home a pair of runs to make the score 4-2. Zimmer allowed two runs on four hits with a strikeout and no walks in his 3 1/3 innings of work.
The Wolves struck again in the eighth, creating enough distance to solidify the victory with a three-run inning. Anthony Zellner kick-started the rally with a one-out double, before an error and two-out, RBI-singles from the Maiben twins put the Wolves in front 7-2.
All three runs in the frame were unearned, as Tyler Elliott struck out four hitters while walking one over 1 2/3 innings in the final outing of his collegiate career. Sage Wayment faced the minimum in the top of the ninth inning with a strikeout, to complete the day on the hill for the Yellowjackets.
Johnson allowed just four baserunners after MSUB rallied to tie the game in the second, as he efficiently navigated his way through the Yellowjacket lineup time and time again. MSUB never got the tying run on base over the final four innings, after WOU took the lead for good in the sixth.