(Editor’s Note: MSUB Athletics Press Release)
LACEY, Wash. – A sixth-run ninth inning helped the Montana State University Billings baseball team split a doubleheader at Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponent Saint Martin’s University on Friday, as the Yellowjackets claimed Game 2 6-1 after falling 9-6 in the opener at the SMU Baseball Field.
Junior Steen Fredrickson matched a career high with his second 10-strikeout game of the season, and pitched five shutout frames in the nightcap. Ryan Myers hit his team-leading fifth home run of the year in Game 1, and Jalen Garcia went 6-for-10 with four RBIs in the doubleheader.
MSUB moved to 11-9 overall on the year and is now 6-4 in GNAC play with the split. The Saints meanwhile are 3-15 overall and are 2-8 in conference action. “It was big for us to pull out Game 2 today,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “We got another quality start from Steen, and Adam (Cox) was electric at the backend. Offensively, we put together a lot of hits but we need some of those timely hits to come through.”
Game 1 – Saint Martin’s 9, MSU Billings 6
The Saints got off to a strong start and finished with a bang, as they withstood a late rally by the ‘Jackets to take the opener. Ryan Colvin drilled an RBI-double to right-center in the top of the first, and SMU increased its lead to 4-0 after three unearned runs in the second inning.
A fielding miscue hurt MSUB starter Sam Wong, as only one of the four runs he surrendered were earned in his 3 2/3 innings pitched.
The ‘Jacket offense came to life in the third inning, as the heart of the order plated three runs to make it a 4-3 ballgame. Garcia had an RBI-double to left center, Myers added a run-scoring hit, and Andrew Schleusner brought the ‘Jackets within a run with a base hit.
Like Wong, SMU starter Clark Streby wound up on the wrong side of a fielding error as all three of the runs he allowed in the third inning were unearned. In six total innings, Streby notched five strikeouts against just one walk while throwing 98 pitches.
A leadoff walk drawn by Ryne Oshiro in the sixth started another SMU rally, and a two-out, two-run triple by Austin Feist upped the Saints’ lead to 7-3.
Myers answered with a two-run home run to right-center in the seventh, and Garcia matched Feist’s feat with an RBI-triple of his own in the top of the eighth to make it 7-6. The Yellowjackets failed to plate the tying run however, and Feist homered before an Oshiro single as SMU scored a pair of big insurance runs in the bottom of the inning.
Luke Hare earned the save, with three strikeouts while allowing one run in two relief innings. Feist finished a double shy of the cycle in the game, while Jake Leonard also went 3-for-5 to pace the Saints offensively.
MSUB stranded 13 runners on base in the game, as it scored just six times despite 14 hits.
Game 2 – MSUB 6, SMU 1 (9 Innings)
Scheduled to be a seven-inning game, the nightcap extended to nine frames as Fredrickson and SMU starter Mickey Walker engaged in a pitcher’s duel.
Though neither team scored through the first eight innings, neither side went without chances. The ‘Jackets had runners on second and third in the bottom of the second, before Walker notched one of his five strikeouts on the day. Overall Walkter scattered five hits through seven shutout innings, while walking a pair and throwing 107 pitches.
Runners on the corners in the third proved fruitless for the Saints, as did a pair of baserunners in the fifth inning with just one out. Fredrickson ended his outing with back-to-back swinging strikeouts, and settled for the no decision despite the stellar three-hit performance.
Hitters haven’t had a chance all season long against senior righty Adam Cox, and Friday was no exception. Cox motored through three perfect innings with five strikeouts, helping keep the game scoreless and giving the offense a chance to win it late.
An inning-ending double play squandered a first-and-third situation for MSUB in the sixth, and Saints reliever Adam Eskil got a big strikeout with two on to end the eighth inning.
The fireworks finally came in the ninth, when Myers set the tone with a leadoff walk. After four hits, three walks, and two errors, the ‘Jackets had built a 6-0 edge to solidify the victory.
SMU got one back in the ninth, as an error by the ‘Jackets and a pair of walks prevented a shutout for the visitors. Dakota Weindel finished the job however, ending the game with the bases loaded.
SMU managed just four hits in the nightcap, and stranded 10 runners on base. The ‘Jackets meanwhile plated their six runs on 10 hits, with nine runners left on.
THE BUZZ: Garcia was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…Cox has now faced 33 batters this year, and has struck out 17 of them while not allowing a run or a hit in 10 1/3 relief innings…the home run was the 16th of Myers’ career as a Yellowjacket…Fredrickson continues to lead the GNAC with a team-best 38 strikeouts in 30.0 innings pitched this year.
COMING UP: The series concludes on Saturday with another 1 p.m. Pacific time doubleheader at the SMU Baseball Field. Live video and live statistics for both of Saturday’s games will be available online through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here.