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MSU Billings baseball, softball teams pick up road wins

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Posted at 6:27 AM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 08:27:59-05

(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)

WALNUT, Calif. – Plating 10 runs in an inning for the third time in program history, the Montana State University Billings baseball team scored early and never looked back on its way to a 19-8 triumph over Cal State Los Angeles in Sunday’s series finale at Mazmanian Field.

The Yellowjackets rallied for 10 runs in the second inning, and were never in jeopardy of surrendering the advantage as they improved to 2-2 on the season. “I loved how the guys bounced back after yesterday,” said MSUB head coach Derek Waddoups, after Saturday’s 15-5 defeat in Game 2 of the doubleheader. “It started with Red on the mound, and he was filling up the zone. He had good stuff today. We put the ball in play more often, started the big inning well, and it snowballed for us in a good way.”

Connor Redmond earned the victory in his first start of the season, tossing five strong innings with two runs allowed on five hits. The senior right-hander had a grip on his command from the start and pitched well to contact, finishing with a pair of strikeouts and zero walks. “Connor threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, commanded and competed in the zone, and made them put the ball in play,” said Waddoups. “We played good defense behind him, and he did a good job establishing the strike zone and attacking today.”

Tyler Godfrey hit the Yellowjackets’ first home run of the season, while Dominick Buso went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a pair of runs scored. True freshmen Cooper Dulich and Bodee Wright each drove in three runs, and Justin Lutz scored three times to lead a collection of seven different ‘Jackets that scored multiple runs in the game.

The disastrous second inning started with an ominous sign for the Golden Eagles, as first baseman Drew Emmons had a routine pop up fall out of his glove. It marked the first of six consecutive Yellowjackets to reach base, and MSUB led 6-0 before CSULA recorded the first out of the inning. Four different Yellowjackets had RBIs in an inning that also featured four walks, a hit batter, and 14 total hitters. “We took quality at-bats up and down the lineup, and guys stepped up and put pressure on them throughout the game,” said Waddoups. “When they’d score we answered, and we kept extending the lead. Collectively as a group the guys stepped up, and we had some big at-bats off the bench too.”

Eagle starter Colby Davis was driven from the game after surrendering eight runs on four hits with three walks and no strikeouts. Dylan Needham was the most effective of the five pitchers used by the hosts, as he age up four innings and struck out nine hitters in relief. CSULA slipped to 2-2 on the season with the loss.

CSULA managed to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second, but a sacrifice fly off the bat of Emmons produced the lone run of the frame to make the score 10-1.

The Yellowjackets never lost command after building the early lead, and continued to add on as the game progressed. MSUB scored two more in the fourth, before adding four more in the sixth to put the game out of reach. Ethan Babcock-Barrie delivered a two-run double, and Godfrey followed with his first home run in a Yellowjacket uniform in the next at-bat.

The Eagles got three runs back in the bottom of the sixth, as Emmons crushed a three-run home run over the fence in right field. The hosts managed three more runs in the eighth inning, but by then the game was far out of reach. Gerardo Castaneda went 3-for-4 while Emmons finished with four RBIs to lead CSULA.

Sunday marked the third time in program history MSUB has scored 10 runs in an inning, with all three occurrences coming in the last five seasons. The Yellowjackets first achieved the feat with a 10-run fifth inning on April 27, 2018, in a 14-8 win over Saint Martin’s. MSUB repeated the record the following season against the same opponent in the same inning, on their way to a 19-5 win over SMU on April 6, 2019.

IRVINE, Calif. – Playing in its fifth and final game of the Concordia Kickoff Classic on Sunday, the Montana State University Billings softball team found a way to win late in a 3-1 victory over Stanislaus State.

“It took us a while to break through, but Morgan Quimby came up with our first hit, which was nice to see,” MSUB head coach Lisa McKinney said. “Defensively, I thought we started off really strong with a couple of double-plays that got us out of jams early.”

Aided by starting pitcher Julia Qualteri’s complete-game performance with two strikeouts, the Yellowjackets (2-3) and the Warriors (2-3) were locked in a pitching duel until junior catcher Maycen O’Neal’s game-winning 2-RBI double in the sixth inning broke open the game. One batter after O’Neal’s double, pinch-runner Payton Meyer scored as Jazlyn Kalehuawehe reached first on an error.

“Maycen has come up pretty big for us this whole weekend,” McKinney said. “So it was nice to see her come up clutch in that spot again.”

Qualteri and MSUB’s infield defense finished the job in the seventh, limiting Stanislaus State to only one run after the Warriors loaded the bases. In her second win of the season, Qualteri struck out two batters, gave up four hits, walked four batters and surrendered one run in 99 pitches.

“Our gameplan going in was to hit all our spots and to have confidence in each other,” O’Neal, who caught every inning of Qualteri’s complete-game victory, said. “She hit every single spot that I called and she pitched really well.”

Sunday morning’s game was a pitching duel from the get-go. After a leadoff walk, Julia Qualteri retired the next batter before the middle infield provided an early highlight with a double play. Senior shortstop Sidney Pollard corralled in a grounder, casually flipped it to second baseman Mo Quimby, who sent it to Brittanee Fisher to turn a 6-4-3 double-play.

The quick inning was a sign of things to come. MSUB went down in order in the bottom of the first, but Qualteri helped move things along by getting through the top of the second inning in 10 pitches. Qualteri and the defense put away the first two batters, only gave up a single to Stanislaus State shortstop Madison Flexser, but then the junior right-hander re-focused to strike out the Warriors’ next batter on four pitches.

Qualteri pitched around some trouble, plus the infield came through to help the Warriors strand two runners in scoring position in the top of the third. Two-straight groundouts top open the top of the third foreshadowed another quick inning, yet Stanislaus State’s took advantage of fielding errors and put runners on first and second. The Warriors pulled off a double-steal to move both runners into scoring position, yet a groundout to third ended the inning.

“Julia did a great job on the mound,” McKinney said. “She stayed calm, kept their hitters off-balance and kept getting us really good results. Although the defense did make a few errors throughout the game, we also had some really good double-plays to help us get out of those situations. It was nice to see her work through those situations.”

The ‘Jackets got their first baserunner in the bottom of the third when Quimby singled up the middle on the first pitch of the at-bat. However, this would be the ‘Jackets only hit until the sixth inning. Alexis Tovar got aboard on an error from Stanislaus State’s first baseman in the fourth, yet the ‘Jackets couldn’t move her into scoring position.

To its credit, MSUB’s infield defense kept the ‘Jackets in the game – even when the Warriors dug into their bag of tricks in the fifth. Stanislaus State first baseman Kyndra Marzorini’s leadoff bunt died in fair territory just a foot away from the third-base line, putting MSUB on its toes early. The Warriors’ next batter reached on a fielder’s choice, putting a runner aboard with one out. Yet Marin Penney’s quick reflexes at the hot corner and her throw from third to first helped the ‘Jackets escape the inning unscathed.

The top of the sixth inning was nearly as dramatic as the fifth, as the Warriors took advantage of back-to-back errors to put runners at first and second with one out. But MSUB’s infield wriggled its way out of the jam once more, setting up an exciting sixth-inning rally.

Shelby Marquardt’s speed on a swinging bunt gave MSUB its first leadoff baserunner of the day, then she advanced to second when Stanislaus State’s shortstop bobbled Pollard’s grounder. Tovar struck out, bringing up Maycen O’Neal with two outs and runners at first and second. She quickly got ahead 2-0 in the count, took two more strikes then smacked a double into deep left-center field. Marquardt and Pollard’s speed on the basepaths gave O’Neal a bases-clearing, 2 RBI double that ended up being the game-winner.

“My goal going in was to get at least one run out of the at-bat and protect Julia,” O’Neal said. “I saw an outside pitch and I knew it was going to be outside and I had my toes on the line. My team has a lot of confidence in me, and I know that I can step up from them and that they trust me.”

Jazlyn Kalehuawehe brought in pinch-runner Payton Meyer on the next at-bat, rocketing a grounder that ricocheted off Stanislaus State’s shortstop and into shallow center field. Penney kept the line moving with a single to right field, which advanced pinch runner Allie Hughes to second and then all the way to third on a Stanislaus State fielding error. Yet the ‘Jackets couldn’t put more runners on the board after that.

The next half-inning provided its fair share of drama, as the Warriors threatened to make a comeback with a pair of one-out singles. The Warriors had Qualteri cornered with one out, then a ground-out advanced both runners into scoring position. Two-straight walks loaded the bases and brought in a run, but a slow grounder to Penney shut the door on the Warriors and gave the Yellowjackets’ their second win of the season.