Saints streak into postseason

mwochnick@theolympian.comMay 4, 2014 

LACEY — For the first time as a Division II baseball program, Saint Martin’s is headed to the postseason.

The Saints didn’t even need to play two games Saturday for it to happen.

After their 11-6 win over Central Washington, while sitting in their dugout during a rain-delayed start to Game 2, the Saints learned they earned the third and final spot in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament.

Montana State Billings swept Northwest Nazarene, meaning the Saints (14-17 GNAC) edged NNU (13-19) for the final spot. That also meant the second game between SMU and Central was not necessary.

“It was pretty interesting,” Saints coach Ken Garland said. “Both sides (SMU and CWU) were watching the game (during the delay).”

The Saints will join Central (28-18) and GNAC champion Western Oregon (29-18) for three-team tournament May 8-9 at Western Oregon.

The Saints (18-28 overall) will play Western Oregon at 10 a.m. Thursday to begin the double-elimination tournament. The Saints and Wolves split a four-game series last weekend.

SMU has won a season-high five games in a row — all against teams they’ll face at the GNAC tournament.

“We feel good about where we are,” Garland said.

Because the conference does not have an automatic NCAA berth, the tournament champion isn’t guaranteed a spot into the Division II West Regionals.

As for the Saints on Saturday, they pounded out 20 hits and scored six runs in the eighth inning to overcome a 6-5 deficit.

The top five hitters in SMU’s lineup — Travis Shaw, Spencer Dodd, Zack Larsen, Chandler Tracy and Alex Bielaski – combined to go 12-for-26 with five runs scored and five RBIs.

“We knew what we had to do,” Garland said. “You have to tip your hats to our guys — they answered the bell at every moment.”

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473

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