They’re set to go in San Diego, California.
The Northwest Nazarene baseball team will look to make some noise at the NCAA West Regional, opening today against top-seeded Point Loma and fifth-seed Cal Poly Pomona for a chance to advance to Super Regionals.
NNU earned the at-large bid with a 30-21 overall record and a very strong strength of schedule despite falling to Western Oregon in the GNAC Championships last weekend.
NNU is the No. 4 seed. No. 2 Azusa Pacific, No. 3 Cal State Monterey Bay and No. 6 Western Oregon also received bids for the regional, with Azusa serving as the host of that pod. Winners of each pod will head to Super Regionals and play a best-of-three series next weekend for the chance to go to the eight-team NCAA Division II Baseball Championships in Cary, North Carolina.
The Nighthawks will open against Cal Poly Pomona on today at noon. The loser will then take on Point Loma in the second game. Regardless of a win or a loss, Point Loma will then play the winner of the first game in the third game three. With there being three teams in a double elimination pod, the scenarios can be a bit confusing, but here is the explanation from the NCAA on what follows after the first few games:
• If two teams remain after game two, games three to five will be a best-of-three series between the remaining teams to determine the advancing team to Super Regionals.
• If two teams remain after game three, the remaining teams will play in game four. The team that is 2-0 would win the regional title with a game four win. If the 1-1 team wins game four, then the same teams will play again in game five to determine the advancing team.
• If three teams remain and are each 1-1 after game three, then NNU and Cal Poly Pomona will play in game four. The winner of game four will then face Point Loma in a winner-take-all game five for a chance to head to Super Regionals.
•This will be just NNU’s second appearance in the NCAA postseasons for baseball, with the first coming last season when they made it all the way to the DII Championships in Cary and won a game there to finish sixth in the nation. With the CCAA not participating in sports last spring, the regional was trimmed to just three total teams with NNU hosting Azusa Pacific and Western Oregon. NNU dropped their first game, but then rattled off three-straight dramatic wins to advance to the national championships.
As a team, the Nighthawks are third in the region with a 3.96 ERA, seventh in home runs with 44, second with a 3.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and second with 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Four Nighthawks were named first team all-conference in utility/pitcher Haden Keller, relief pitchers Max Holtzclaw and Blake McFadden, and third baseman Duke Pahukoa. Three earned second team honors in shortstop Parker Price, first baseman Grant Kerry, and outfielder Tyler Best. There were also three named honorable mention in starting pitcher Brock Moffitt, second baseman Kyle Payne, and designated hitter Alex Salsman.
Keller is eighth in the region in ERA, while Holtzclaw is second in the region and third in the nation with 12 saves.
The College of Idaho’s season ended Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma at the NAIA Opening Round Championship in Chickasha, Oklahoma.
The Yotes (43-17) were held to two hits. Kylie Smith had one and drove in a run and Lexi Navarrete had the other, a home run.
The teams each scored a run in the first inning. The Yotes took a 2-1 lead in the second behind Navarrete’s homer before USAO scored three runs in the fourth and a run in the sixth.
Yotes leadoff hitter Haley Loffer reached base by walk three times.
College of Idaho pitcher Katelyn Wilfert (16-8) pitched four innings, allowing four hits and four runs. Hannah McNerney pitched three innings, allowing two hits and a run.