COLLEGE BASEBALL: Wolves come up big in key moments



MONMOUTH — Western Oregon pitcher Chase Tokunaga entered the Wolves’ first game against Northwest Nazarene in the top of the ninth inning on Friday. With the game tied at 2 the Crusaders had the bases loaded with no outs.    Three batters later, the game was headed to the bottom of the ninth, still tied 2-2.    In the bottom of the ninth, senior Daniel McNabb walked up to home plate and paused to analyze the situation. With senior Parker Miles on third, all the Wolves needed was a single run. No need for the home run swing, just a hit.    McNabb then hit a walk-off single, and Western Oregon won 3-2.    It was a pause that lasted a few seconds, but it was a moment that’s come to define the Wolves’ philosophy this season.    “We want to focus on embracing our battles, to know what we have to do in any given spot,” McNabb said.    Western Oregon won three of four Great Northwest Athletic Conference games against the Crusaders, dropping the second half of a doubleheader on Friday, 3-1, before winning 1-0 and 13-2 on Saturday as the Wolves’ pitching staff kept Northwest Nazarene’s batters off balance.    It is each moment, whether at the plate, in the outfield or on the mound, that the Wolves have focused on mastering from a mental standpoint. And it’s that focus that has made all the difference, McNabb said.    “When you’re up there, we talked about that you have to know your role, know your situation,” said McNabb, who finished the series with five hits and seven RBIs. “We have to be more situational.”    For McNabb, his path toward embracing his battles began last summer, when he played for the Medford Rogues of the West Coast League. It was there that he started to focus more on approaching every at-bat like it was his last.    “Every time you go up there, have a quality at-bat,” McNabb said. “Even when you’re not feeling good, just go up there and battle. That’s the biggest thing I took away from summer ball.”   That philosophy is paying dividends for Western Oregon, which entered the week with a 15-10 record overall and 9-3 in GNAC play, after winning three of four games in each of the Wolves’ first four series against league foes.    “When you’re looking at it, the main thing we want to do is win the series,” WOU coach Kellen Walker said. “If you win three out of four, you put yourself in a pretty good spot. But there’s a long road ahead though.”    The Wolves face a month-long stretch where they will play 17 straight games on the road starting Saturday and Sunday at Saint Martin’s. But if Western Oregon focuses on each battle, the road trip will be successful, Walker said.    “We’ll have our work cut out for us,” Walker said, “but we’ll make some adjustments ... and we’ll be ready to go.”



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