(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – After a sluggish Game 1, the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (16-18, 6-7 GNAC) powered their way to a 13-5 (five innings) Game 2 win in a doubleheader split against Great Northwest Athletic Conference rival Saint Martin’s (20-15, 10-8 GNAC) on Saturday.
In Game 1 the ‘Jackets scored just two runs in a 4-2 defeat. The ‘Jackets scored a single run in each the sixth and the seventh inning after recording just two hits through the first five innings of play.
“We came out a little bit slow,” head coach Jessica Rayman said after MSUB produced two runs in Game 1. “It took us a little while to get their pitcher’s timing down. She didn’t throw quite as hard as we are used to and we struggled to make the adjustment. Maddy (Lincoln) left some pitches over the plate and once she settled in and hit her spots she was great. We just need her to bring her command from the start.”
The 13 runs scored in Game 2 by the ‘Jackets is their second highest total this season behind a 14 run effort they recorded in the first game of the season. The ‘Jackets had four homers in the victory, tied for the second most in a game this season.
“Our bats really came alive in the second game,” Rayman said after the win. “It was nice to see us make the adjustment and get our timing down. Megan (Dettling) really came out and set the tone for us. It was a really good team win and we built on our momentum throughout.”
Freshman Emily Martinez hit her first collegiate home run in Game 2. The third baseman turned on a pitch and drove it over the left-field fence for a two run shot scoring Kelsee Bushell. Bushell later hit a solo home run of her own. It was the fourth home run of the season for the shortstop.
Brittanee Fisher continues to display her elite power at the plate as the freshman notched her team-leading sixth home run in Saturday’s second game. The two run blast scored Cameron Cassinelli who had delivered a two-run double just before Fishers round-tripper.
Heather Tracy was 4-for-4 in the second game. After batting third in Game 1 she moved into the leadoff spot for Game 2 and hit the first pitch she saw for a double. She quickly scored after stealing third before later coming home on a throwing error by the catcher.
Myrissa Prince put the finishing touches on the run-rule victory as she crushed a three-run home run to walk-off on the Saints in the fifth inning. The senior has three homers this year, eclipsing her total of two from last season.
“It was great to see everyone do their part in that win,” Rayman added. “It’s about the team and everyone is doing a good job of picking each other up.”
GAME 1: Saint Martin’s University 4, MSU Billings 2
The Yellowjackets’ offense got off to a slow start on Saturday as they collected just two hits in the first five innings of Game 1. The Saints held a 4-0 lead in the sixth when Tracy knocked her first hit of a game as she legged out a double through the middle of the infield. After an infield-single by Dettling, the ‘Jackets got on the board with a sacrifice fly from Cassinelli.
Maddy Lincoln (8-10, 3.85 ERA) pitched all seven innings for the ‘Jackets allowing four runs on 11 Saint hits. The sophomore struck out three batters and did not allow a walk in the contest.
Saint Mary’s got on the board early after a Tessani Dixon single and a Sabrina Hicks triple gave them a 1-0 advantage in the top of the second inning. The biggest hit of the game came in the third inning when Devyn Connolly launched a two-run home run to stretch the lead 3-0.
In the sixth, the Saints added one more to their lead with a solo home run by Dixon making 4-0. Following the ‘Jackets scoring their first run in the sixth, they added one more in the bottom of the seventh when an Allie Hughes single scored Emily Martinez. The MSU Billings rally would fall short netting the Saints their 10th conference victory of the season.
Kim Nelson (7-4) earned the win for the Saints and Lauren Maley earned her second save of the season after recording the final two outs of the game.
Game 2: MSU Billings 13, Saint Martin’s University 5 (5 Innings)
The Yellowjacket offense powered MSU Billings to a Game 2 victory with Megan Dettling (5-4, 4.71 ERA) in the circle. Scoring a run in each inning, the ‘Jackets collected 13 runs on 12 hits including four home runs in the game.
Saint Martin’s put the first run on the board in the top of the first with a walk, stolen base and wild pitch getting a runner to third. A two-out single from Connolly plated Regan Byrd and spotted SMU the 1-0 lead.
Tracy answered on the first pitch as the MSUB leadoff hitter struck her ninth double of the season. Tracy then stole her 18th base of the season making her just one shy of tying the MSUB single-season record of 19 set by Jessica Frank in 2008. After Prince drew a walk, the MSUB second baseman stole second forcing an errant throw from the Saint’s catcher and allowing Tracy to score on the error.
In the second, the Saints responded with two more runs. After a walk, a two-out double put SMU back on the board before a wild pitch gave them a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the second it only took two batters for the Yellowjackets to tie things up. Bushell led off the inning with a single in front of Martinez’s two-run shot. Allie Hughes drew a walk, and singles from Amanda Barham and Tracy loaded the bases with no outs. Prince collected an RBI on a fielder’s choice and Dettling plated one more with a sacrifice bunt. The inning ended with a fly out but the ‘Jackets had secured a 5-3 lead.
After a quick top of the third, it was Bushell’s blast that kept the offense rolling in the bottom of the inning.
Trailing 6-3 in the top of the fourth, the Saints started to rally. A leadoff single and a double gave SMU runners in scoring position with just one out. Following a walk to load the bases, a single scored two runs for the Saints cutting the lead to one.
The Yellowjackets countered with four more runs of their own. After Barham reached on an error, Tracy picked up another hit with a single. Prince sacrificed the runners into scoring position with a bunt and Cassinelli delivered a two-run double to open up the lead. With Cassinelli standing on second, Fisher unloaded on a pitch sending it over the fence in center field to give the ‘Jackets a 10-5 advantage.
Dettling issued one walk in the fifth but quickly recorded three outs while preserving the five-run lead. For the third time in the game, Barham and Tracy reached base safely ahead of Prince. The senior sealed the win with her three-run shot netting the ‘Jackets an eight run advantage and ending the game via run-rule.
NEXT: The ‘Jackets will host the Saints for two more games tomorrow starting at 12 p.m. at Avitus Group Stadium.