ELLENSBURG — Central Washington’s last gasp at its first GNAC baseball championship was extinguished via a 9-7 loss to Western Oregon in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, but the Wildcats followed with a 5-4 triumph in the second game.
Trailing the 11-time defending champion Wolves by three games with four remaining, CWU needed to sweep the four-game series to claim the title.
The Wildcats (19-11 GNAC, 28-20 overall) will, however, qualify for the first GNAC tournament, to be played next Thursday through Saturday at Western Oregon (22-8, 29-19). They are also assured their first winning season since 2008.
Central trailed 7-0 through seven innings, but rallied with two runs in the eighth and five more in the ninth. Western Oregon had scored two runs in the top of the ninth.
In the second game, Kyle Sani’s three-run homer keyed a five-run fourth inning that gave starting pitcher Skye Adams all the run support he’d need. The long ball was Sani’s 17th this season, the most of any player in NCAA Division II.
Adams (5-2) scattered eight hits, allowed three earned runs and struck out five while walking one.
Today’s doubleheader, on senior day for the Wildcats, is scheduled to start at noon.
W. Oregon 105 001 002 — 9 12 0
Central 000 000 025 — 7 10 3
Watkins, Pratt (8), Stone (9) and Chavarria; Fewel, Lotzer, (7), Engel (9) and Sani.
CWU highlights: Kyle Sani 2-4, 2b, RBI; Justin Peterson 2-3, RBI; Kramer Ferrell 2b, RBI.
W. Oregon 101 110 0 — 4 8 2
Central 000 500 x — 5 7 2
Steindorf and David; Adams and Kathman.
CWU highlights: Sani 1-3, HR, 3 RBI; Kasey Bielec 2-3; Ethan Sterkel 1-1.