(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – A late offensive surge and a comeback effort that fell just short led to a doubleheader split for the Montana State University Billings baseball team on Saturday afternoon in Great Northwest Athletic Conference action at Central Washington University’s baseball field.
MSUB scored 12 runs in the ninth inning to take the opener 17-5, before the Wildcats held on for a 10-9 triumph in the series finale. The Yellowjackets moved to 5-19 on the season and are now 5-11 in conference play with Saturday’s split. Central Washington meanwhile is 8-8 overall and moved to 6-6 in GNAC play.
Carson Green went 4-for-11 with five RBIs and homered in each game, while Andrew Schleusner hit his third home run of the year for MSUB. Daniel Cipriano got on base in 6 of 9 plate appearances and went 3-for-6 in the doubleheader.
Game 1 – MSU Billings 17, Central Washington 5
A 12-run ninth inning gave the Yellowjackets the Game 1 victory, as the offense exploded late to run away with Saturday’s opener. With the score tied at 5-5, Green led off the monstrous inning with a home run and the ‘Jackets proceeded to send 17 hitters to the plate in the inning. Five different MSUB players had an RBI in the frame, and Justin Lutz had a pair of RBI-hits.
Cort Dietrich earned the victory on the mound for the ‘Jackets, throwing four shutout innings while allowing just two hits in his most effective outing of the season. The right-hander struck out three and walked one, while throwing 53 pitches and keeping the score tied before MSUB’s big ninth inning. Mason Abrath quickly ended the contest, allowing one walk in an otherwise uneventful bottom of the ninth inning.
The Yellowjackets jumped ahead in the top of the second inning, when Will Riley laced a two-run double to right-center field to make it a 2-0 ballgame. The Wildcats countered with a five-run third inning, as the hosts scored all of their runs in a single frame. CWU benefitted from three walks, a hit batter, and an error, while Mitch Lesmeister, Austin Ohland, and Cameron McGrath each had an RBI in the inning.
MSUB immediately evened the score with a three-run top of the fourth inning, as two Wildcat errors a double steal of second and home by Cipriano and Will Riley, and an RBI-single by Tanner Cantwell pulled the score to 5-5.
CWU starter Beau Kearsey allowed five runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks in four innings of work. Ryan Marstiller gave up two runs on three hits with six strikeouts and no walks in four solid innings of relief, before the CWU bullpen imploded and used four different arms in the nightmare ninth inning.
Cantwell went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and Schleusner was 3-for-5 with three runs scored to lead MSUB offensively in the opener.
Game 2 – Central Washington 10, MSU Billings 9 (7 Innings)
Schleusner hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to bring the Yellowjackets within one, but CWU’s Josh Touhey recorded a strikeout and a ground out to complete the save and the series win for CWU.
Wildcat starter Reid Rasmussen allowed five runs on six hits with five strikeouts and four walks in his four innings of work, before Touhey threw the final three frames of the day.
The Yellowjackets carried over momentum from their Game 1 win, with RBI-singles from Cipriano and Chris Arpan giving them a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
The Wildcats countered with a five-run bottom of the first however, with a two-run double off the bat of Jake Tilley helping push the hosts ahead 5-2 after the first inning of play.
Riley had another RBI in the top of the second, but RBIs from Lesmeister and Michael Copeland extended CWU’s lead to 8-3.
Green’s second home run of the day was a two-run shot in the top of the fourth, and he followed with a two-run single in the fifth to pull MSUB within two down 9-7. With two outs in the inning Cipriano shot a line drive up the middle, but CWU second baseman Michael Peter snagged the would-be game-tying hit before it could make its way into center field.
Justin Hampson had what proved to be the game-winning hit, as his RBI-double in the bottom of the fifth gave the Wildcats their 10th and final run.
MSUB starter Logan Siblerud gave up seven runs on five hits with one strikeout and two walks in 1 2/3 innings of work. Tyler Elliott was MSUB’s most effective reliever, giving up three hits and striking out three in 1 1/3 shutout innings of relief.
THE BUZZ: Green was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…Green’s home runs were his third and fourth of the season…MSUB is now 56-52 all-time against CWU and is 29-28 in games played in Ellensburg.
NEXT UP: The Yellowjackets have a bye next weekend, before hosting No. 15 Northwest Nazarene University in a four-game series at Dehler Park on April 16-17. Live coverage for the upcoming conference series will be available online here [msubsports.com].
On the softball diamond Anna Kasner threw a four-hit shutout on Saturday morning at Viking Field, leading host Western Washington University to a 2-0 Great Northwest Athletic Conference victory over the Montana State University Billings softball team.
Kasner’s gem overshadowed a strong outing from Yellowjacket right-hander Alyssa Etheridge, who also turned in a complete game allowing just two runs. “We played another strong game of softball,” said MSUB head coach Lisa McKinney. “The offense was making good contact at the end of the game, but we just kept hitting it to people. Lyss continued to keep them off balance and we played solid defense. The team played good, team softball the whole weekend.”
The Yellowjackets slipped to 6-18 overall with the defeat and are now 2-6 in conference play. Western Washington meanwhile is 15-5 overall and is 6-2 in GNAC games.
Brooke Fesenbek drove in the first run of the game with an RBI-single in the bottom of the first, and Camille Shimabukuro roped an RBI-double to left field in the second to make the score 2-0. Shimabukuro’s double was the only extra base hit among the teams’ combined 11 knocks in the well-pitched ballgame.
After WWU scored its second run, Etheridge allowed just two baserunners the rest of the contest. She finished her outing by retiring 10 batters in-a-row as she gave the Yellowjackets every chance to get back into the game. Overall she gave up two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks in six innings of work.
After retiring the first five batters of the game, Kasner gave up a walk and a single in the top of the second as MSUB had its first good scoring opportunity. The Viking right hander stranded both runners with a strikeout however, as the score remained 1-0 early.
The inning-ending punchout by Kasner kicked off a string of seven straight hitters retired, until Marin Penney led off the fifth inning with a base hit. Taylor Anderson was hit by a pitch to put the tying run on base with two out, but third baseman Megan Marino snagged a line drive off the bat of Morgan Quimby to end the threat.
The ‘Jackets knocked on the door bringing the tying run to the plate in both the sixth and seventh innings, but each time Kasner got out of trouble as she sealed the series win for the Vikings. Kasner finished the game with seven strikeouts and one walk, while throwing 100 pitches.
Sidney Pollard was 2-for-2 for the Yellowjackets, who played error-free defense in support of Etheridge. Tatum Dow, Fesenbek, and Mackenzie Palmer each had a pair of hits for the Vikings.
THE BUZZ: Etheridge was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…the complete game was Etheridge’s third of the season…MSUB is now 43-36 all-time against WWU and is 17-20 in games played in Bellingham.
NEXT WEEK: MSUB kicks off a 12-game home stretch to close the 2021 regular season, hosting Western Oregon University in a four-game series at Avitus Group Stadium on April 10-11. Live video will be available online here [youtube.com] and live statistics will be available online here [msubsports.com].