NAMPA, Idaho — The Northwest Nazarene University baseball team is heading to West Regionals after winning the GNAC tournament.
The Nighthawks secured their spot in the postseason with two wins over Central Washington in a best of three series.
“We are pretty pumped, there is no question," Head Coach Joe Schaefer said. "It was pretty awesome getting to win the tournament on our home field."
The Nighthawks, the regular season and now GNAC champions, are making their first-ever postseason trip in program history.
"We’re pumped. Absolutely we are pumped. Just getting to a regional is one of the harder things in our sport, especially at our level, so just being a part of it is a big deal," Shaefer said.
Not only will it be their first appearance in the program's 21 years, but the Nighthawks are also hosting West Regionals on their home field, Vail Field for the first time ever.
"It is something we may never be able to do again so we understand the magnitude of it and how exciting it is," Shaefer said.
Nighthawks win!! @NNUBaseball has won the 2021 GNAC Championship with a 9-6 victory over Central Washington!— NNU Nighthawks (@NNUSports) May 21, 2021
With the win, the Nighthawks receive the automatic qualifying bid and are headed to their first-ever NCAA postseason! pic.twitter.com/jFbGz1xab6
GNAC also announced that fans are allowed to attend the games.
"It's awesome. I hope there are a million people there," Shaefer said.
It will be the first time all season the Nighthawks will get to play in front of their friends, family, and fans.
"There's an advantage to being at home in the postseason so regardless of where we are seeded in this thing, it is nice to be at home playing on our home field and getting to have fans in the seats for the first time all year. It is going to create energy, create an atmosphere, and hopefully, we feed off of it," Shaefer said.
Advantage or not, Shaefer said his team has trained all year for this opportunity with a renewed love for the game after having their season taken away last year.
“These guys believe that they are capable of winning a national championship,” Schaefer said.
The No. 2 seed Nighthawks will take on the No. 3 seed Western Oregon on May 27 at noon.
NCAA DIVISION II WEST REGIONAL at Vail Field, Nampa, Idaho
Thursday, May 27
Game 1: No. 3 Western Oregon vs. No. 2 Northwest Nazarene, Noon
Game 2: Loser of Game 1 vs. No. 1 Azusa Pacific, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, May 28
Game 3: Winner/Loser of Game 2 vs. Winner of Game 1, Noon
Game 4: TBD vs. TBD, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 29 (If Necessary)
Game 5: TBD vs. TBD, Noon
- This is a double-elimination tournament
- 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 title.
- 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 regional champion.
- If three teams remain and are each 1-1 after game three, then the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds will play in game four. The winner of game four will then face the No. 1 seed in a winner-take-all game five for the regional title.