(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
PORTLAND, Ore. – Sweeping the Great Northwest Athletic Conference weekly awards, Montana State University Billings’ Blake Tritch and Justin Lutz were named the GNAC Pitcher of the Week and Player of the Week, respectively, announced by the conference office on Monday.
Tritch threw a series-clinching complete game and Lutz went 4-for-7 to help the Yellowjackets to a crucial 3-1 series victory over Saint Martin’s University on the road last week.
In his first season in the program, Tritch put together the best outing of his collegiate career and the best individual effort by MSUB’s pitching staff this spring. The right-hander went the distance in an eight-inning, 4-1 victory to clinch the series finale. Scheduled to be a seven-inning game, Tritch finished the win after the teams had to play an extra frame when tied 1-1 through seven.
He gave up just three hits and one run in his eight innings of work, while striking out three batters and throwing a season-high 93 pitches.
“Blake did a fabulous job of controlling the tempo of the game and strike zone on Friday,” said MSUB head coach Derek Waddoups. “He was pitching ahead and really kept his composure late in the game. It was fun to see him pitch the complete game and to manage the tie breaker in the eighth. He has really stepped up into a leadership role over the past few weekends.”
Lutz had a profound impact in catching Game 2 and Game 3 of the series, while driving in three runs and scoring four times. He reached base in 7 of 10 plate appearances in the series, while making 17 putouts and adding a season-high four assists in Game 1. Lutz hit his fifth home run of the season in Game 3, and also supplied a double in the blowout victory for the ‘Jackets.
His most important swing of the bat came in Game 1, as his seventh-inning RBI-single proved to be the game-winning hit in the narrow 6-5 victory.
“Justin was outstanding defensively behind the plate as well as offensively on the weekend,” said Waddoups. “He really helped the pitching staff command the zone and blocked the ball as well as he has all season. He had several clutch at-bats and a huge home run in Game 3. He just took great at-bats all weekend that helped lead to team success.”
This is the first-career GNAC Player of the Week award for both Tritch and Lutz. MSUB now has five GNAC Player of the Week awards this spring, after senior Daniel Cipriano won it twice and junior Will Riley claimed the award as well.
The Yellowjackets (8-24, 8-16 GNAC) host Western Oregon University in a critical four-game GNAC series this weekend at Dehler Park. Doubleheaders are set for Thursday at 1 p.m. and Friday at 1 p.m.