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MSU Billings sweeps rare triple-header in home opener

Posted at 9:18 PM, Mar 30, 2018

(MSU Billings release)

BILLINGS – With the ball flying out of Avitus Group Stadium all day long, the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (15-17, 5-6 GNAC) won all three games against the Western Washington Vikings (11-23, 5-10 GNAC) on Friday. The trio of victories secured the first Great Northwest Athletic Conference series win for the Yellowjackets this season. Tomorrow the ‘Jackets and Vikings will play a single game with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m.

The 3-0 day is a first in Yellowjacket history. MSUB has played three games in a day 14 times during the programs 17 years but hadn’t had a better day than 2-1 until today. This is only the third time that the ‘Jackets have played a conference foe three times in a day. They went 2-1 on both occasion, in 2011 against Western Washington and 2012 against Central Washington.

In the third game of the day, Cameron Cassinelli hit the 35th home run of her MSUB career to tie Kelly Parsons for the all-time record. The solo shot led off the fourth inning for the Yellowjackets and gave them a 3-0 advantage in the game. The senior had an RBI in each game on Friday and has collected 24 this season.

Maddy Lincoln tallied her eighth win of the season in Game One, tying her season total from 2017. She also added a save in Game Three, the second of her season and third of her career. The sophomore left-hander leads the GNAC in both innings and appearances while starting 17 games and pitching 96.2 innings this season.

Megan Dettling had her pitches working as she recorded the start in Game Two. Dettling fanned nine Western Washington batters, her second consecutive nine strikeout game. Allowing seven hits, the senior only allowed runs to score via two solo home runs on Friday.

Emily Martinez had a hit in each of Friday’s games joining Cassinelli as the only ‘Jackets to do so. The freshman has a hit in four straight contests and has brought her batting average to .438 in 16 at-bats this season. She had her first career RBI in Game Two and notched her first extra-base hit at the same time.

GAME ONE: MSU Billings 2, Western Washington 1

With an early start to the three game schedule, both offense started the day sluggish. Maddy Lincoln (8-9, 3.85 ERA) took advantage of the Vikings’ offensive struggles allowing just three hits over seven inning of work. Lincoln struck out three batters in the contest while issuing just two walks.

Amanda Barham delivered the first hit of the game for the Yellowjackets to start the third inning. Myrissa Prince got the MSUB offense in scoring position with a sharply hit double that put runners on second and third. MSUB’s all-time RBI leader, Cassinelli picked up two more with a double that scored Prince and Barham.

With the ‘Jackets leading 2-0, both teams would only collect two more hits each in the game. Detting had a single in the fifth inning and Martinez collected her knock in the sixth. The Vikings’ biggest hit of the game came in the seventh when Lauren Lo hit a solo home run.

GAME TWO: MSU Billings 9, Western Washington 2

In Game Two, Western Washington’s starting pitcher Kira Doan cracked a solo home run to open the scoring before she took to the circle. The ‘Jackets’ Megan Dettling (4-4, 4.65 ERA) settled in and tamed the Vikings’ bats through the remainder of the contest as she allowed just one more run over the final six innings.

With just three hits and no runs through three innings, the MSUB lineup erupted for the first of three three-run innings to end the game. After Dettling and Kelsee Bushell each collected a single, Brittanee Fisher hit a towering shot that landed up against the Rimrocks beyond left field giving the ‘Jackets a 3-1 lead. It marked the fifth home run of the season for the Billings native who now has 18 RBIs this season.

In the fifth inning, the ‘Jackets loaded the bases with a walk and singles from Heather Tracy and Prince. Prince scored the first run of the inning on a wild pitch as the MSUB second baseman made a break for home and was called safe due to interference from the pitcher covering home plate. Cassinelli then delivered an RBI single to give the ‘Jackets a 5-1 lead. Another wild pitch resulted in Dettling crossing the plate before the end of the frame.

The Vikings earned their third run of the day on their third solo home run when Shearyna Labasan hit her second home run of the season for WWU. Dettling ran into trouble in the sixth with the bases loaded following a hit batter, a walk and an error. The senior closed the door by striking out the final batter of the inning.

The bottom of the sixth sealed the second win of the day for MSUB. Fisher drew a four-pitch walk and Martinez belted a double to score her fellow freshman. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Martinez scored on a sacrifice fly from Prince. Tracy picked up her team-leading 26th RBI of the season with a single that scored Barham making the score 9-2.

GAME THREE: MSU Billings 7, Western Washington 3

With a chance to earn the first three game sweep in program history, the ‘Jackets turned to Haley Couch (3-4, 5.19 ERA) in Game Three. The freshman was strong early as she retired the side in each of the first two innings. Tracy scored a wild run in the bottom of the first as she attempted to go first-to-third on a sacrifice bunt from Prince. An errant throw from Western Washington’s first baseman allowed the fleet-footed Tracy to cross home and give the ‘Jackets the 1-0 lead.

Another run was added in the bottom of the second as Bushell turned on a pitch for her third home run of the season. Couch allowed her first hit of the game in the third on a single from Jackie Lucido but quickly retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.

Leading off the fourth, Cassinelli blasted her fifth home run of the season to left-center field accounting for the 35th round-tripper of her career. The power display continued when catcher Madison Kelly hit her first home run of the season later in the inning making it 4-0 MSUB.

The Vikings’ offense found success in the fifth with a pair of doubles that plated their first run of the game. A single would score one more for WWU cutting the ‘Jackets’ to 4-2.

Taking advantage of an error, the ‘Jackets answered with a run in the fifth. Tracy reached home after a bunt single, a stolen base and a two-base error. The manufactured run gave MSUB a three-run advantage as Lincoln came in to close the game in the sixth.

Lincoln allowed just a single in the top of the sixth and received two more runs of support in the bottom of the frame. Martinez hit her second double of the day to start an MSUB rally. Kelly followed with a single. Allie Hughes pinch-ran for Kelly and stole second forcing a throw form the WWU catcher that sailed into right field allowing Martinez to score. An RBI-single from Emma Tucker added one more run of insurance for the ‘Jackets heading to the seventh.

Lucido struck a home run for the Vikings to lead off the seventh but Lincoln earned the save with two more strikeouts and a ground out.