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Strong pitching push MSU Billings past College of Idaho

Posted at 4:30 PM, Feb 18, 2018

(MSU Billings release)

CALDWELL, Idaho – Sam Wong and Carson Woolery pitched Montana State University Billings to a 9-2 win over the College of Idaho on Sunday at Wolfe Field, in the finale of a three-game baseball series between the teams.

Wong allowed just one earned run on four hits, while striking out six and walking none in six full innings, and Woolery capped the day with three shutout innings. The Yellowjackets (4-3) lost the first game of the day 13-12 as the 10th and final inning of Saturday’s halted game was completed before the start of the regularly-scheduled contest.

“We had some tough fought games early in the series, and COI did a good job of capitalizing on our mistakes,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “Sam and Carson threw extremely well, as they pounded the zone and let our defense play behind them. We did a lot of the small things better. We executed some bunts and stole some bases, and it wasn’t good hitting weather, so we needed to do some of those things and execute well.”

College of Idaho moved to 7-9 on the year with the split on Sunday, and settled for a 2-1 victory in the three-game series with the ‘Jackets.

Game 2 – College of Idaho 13, MSU Billings 12 (10 Innings) (Completed from Saturday Evening)

A two-out, game-tying, three-run home run by Austin Van Horne in the bottom of the ninth inning brought the College of Idaho back to life, and play from Saturday’s second game was completed Sunday morning. Dylan Mansanarez came through with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning Sunday, as he plated Nate Hundley to hand the ‘Jackets their second straight defeat.

MSUB squandered a 7-0 lead after the top of the first inning, as COI came all the way back. Miles Bigelow pitched around a leadoff base hit by Jake Tallman in the top of the 10th, as the Yellowjackets got the tying run into scoring position but stranded him.

It was one of 13 runners left on base in the game for MSUB, while COI stranded only seven.

On Saturday, seven runs crossed the plate before MSUB starter Steen Fredrickson had to throw a pitch, as the Yellowjacket offense sprung to life immediately against COI starter Jake Eddy. Jalen Garcia had the big swing of the bat with a two-run triple, and the ‘Jackets drew three walks in the frame to build a steadfast lead.

Landon Peterson negated a first-inning error by the ‘Jackets, as he cut down Johnny Hyland on a steal attempt to help Fredrickson put up a zero.

The Coyotes rallied over the next two innings, plating three runs in both the second and third to pull within a run. Nick Mooney had three of the six RBIs, and COI drove Fredrickson from the game after six runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings pitched.

A strong top of the fourth helped MSUB reestablish command, and the ‘Jackets benefitted from a pair of costly COI errors to push four runs across and make it an 11-6 game. The Yotes refused to give up however, scoring a run each in the sixth, seventh, and eighth to remain within striking distance.

Meanwhile, Niall Manning baffled the Yellowjacket hitters as he struck out five in 5 1/3 relief innings while allowing one unearned run on two hits. Manning’s key effort set up the late heroics by Mansanarez, and the game was halted after the bottom of the ninth due to darkness.

Game 3 – MSU Billings 9, College of Idaho 2

Wong earned his first win as a ‘Jacket, and MSUB scored six runs over the final three innings to turn a 3-2 lead into a seven-run cushion. Woolery struck out six batters in his three innings, and gave up just one baserunner on a hit batter to earn his first save as a Yellowjacket.

COI struck first in the bottom of the opening frame, taking a 1-0 lead on an unearned run after a throwing error. Coyote starter Dominic Conigliaro used the momentum to post zeroes in the first two innings, but the ‘Jackets battled back to gain the lead with two in the third.

It was the reliable combination of Andrew Schleusner and Garcia that was responsible for the scoring, as each had a two-out RBI after Tallman’s leadoff double.

After a 1-2-3 top of the fourth by Conigliaro, COI evened the score on an RBI-groundout by Mooney in the bottom of the inning. Tallman again led off an inning with a double, this time setting the table in the top of the fifth for an RBI-single by Kade Hall that made it a 3-2 ballgame.

As Wong continued to keep the Coyotes’ offense at bay, the ‘Jackets again positioned themselves for a scoring chance in the top of the seventh. Conner Linebarger and Matt Dillon both reached to start the frame, and a botched sacrifice bunt by COI loaded the bases with no outs. The COI defense traded a double play for one run, but Hall came through with another two-out RBI-single as MSUB moved three runs clear up 5-2.

Taking over in the seventh, Woolery tossed a shutdown frame and moved the ‘Jackets within six outs of salvaging a victory in the series. The offense went back to work with its biggest inning of the day, as Wyatt Setian had an RBI and MSUB scored three runs on two COI errors in the top of the eighth. Linebarger added an RBI-double in the top of the ninth to put the finishing touch on the one-sided win for the ‘Jackets.

Linebarger finished the game 3-for-5 with an RBI, while Hall, Schleusner, and Tallman each had a pair of knocks.

THE BUZZ: Wong was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…MSUB is now 3-2 all-time against COI…13 of the 27 runs scored by MSUB in the series crossed the plate with two outs.

NEXT UP: MSUB takes on NCAA Division I opponent University of Northern Colorado in a three-game series on the road next week. MSUB and UNC will play single games on Friday and Saturday starting at 2 p.m., before a noon start next Sunday in the series finale.