The Black Bears will hit the road for the first time in 2024 league play to take on the Nanaimo NightOwls for a three-game set north of the border. Cowlitz comes in 0-2 in West Coast League play. Nanaimo is currently sitting at 2-1 this season. 

Cowlitz is still searching for their first WCL win this summer after dropping their first two league games to the Corvallis Knights at home last weekend (game three was canceled due to inclement weather). The Black Bears did pick up a win last week in a non-league matchup in game one of the 2024 Columbia River Cup, 4-1 over the Ridgefield Raptors.

The Cowlitz pitching staff collectively shut down the Ridgefield offense and disappointed the 1,605 fans in attendance at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. Michael Fitzgerald (Mt. Hood CC) started the game on the bump for the Black Bears tossing two scoreless innings and striking out two. Alex Buchanan (Ottawa U [KS]) and Ian Hillman (Clark Col.) combined for four innings, four strikeouts, and one run given up. Left-hander and Hillman’s Penguin teammate, Bryce Dodge pitched a scoreless seventh keeping the the game tied at 1-1. The Black Bears went to work in the eighth inning; Bronson Neave (Arizona Western Col.) reached on an error by the third baseman with two outs. Then Will Anderson (Ohlone Col. [CA]) was hit by the pitch and awarded first base, and Nick Miller (Park Univ. Gilbert) was walked to load up the bases for Royce Vandine. Vandine put the Black Bears on top with a two-run single to give Cowlitz the lead. Ensuing batter Cody Estes (South Mountain CC [AZ]) tacked on some insurance with an RBI single to make it 4-1 Cowlitz. 

Kale Hammer (Gonzaga) and Flynn McGahan (Iowa Western) came on to pitch the eighth and ninth innings to allow the Black Bears to hold on and take care of the Raptors on the road. The formula of minimizing walks and two-out hitting could be a strategy for success that the Black Bears could lean on for success this season. 

The 2024 roster is still developing and evolving right before our eyes. With the exciting action of the NCAA Division I Tournament unfolding, some of our prospects our still competing for their respective schools. A talented quartet of No. 21 ranked Dallas Baptist players are set to join the team this summer, as well as a group of Gauchos from the No. 14 ranked University of California – Santa Barbara who will soon be on their way to Cowlitz. You will not want to miss the opportunity to watch these great players in a Black Bears uniform!

Despite dropping their series finale 14-8 to the Kelowna Falcons on Sunday, the NightOwls return home full of confidence after taking the first two games of that series on the road. The pitching was outstanding in games one and two in Kelowna. NightOwl pitchers gave up only three runs in games one and two. Paired with an offense averaging over 7 runs a game, the NightOwls have started the season strong, and year three is looking very bright on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

The Black Bears-NightOwls series will begin on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. at Serauxmen Stadium in Nanaimo, BC. Game 2 on Wednesday is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., then the series finale will start at 6:35 on Thursday. For more information about upcoming games, stats, or tickets, follow us on social media: X (Twitter) (@CowlitzBBears), Facebook, and Instagram (@cowlitzblackbears). To watch, listen live, or view the 2024 promotional schedule, go to our website