(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – A pair of Cameron Cassinelli home runs and excellent pitching performances from Maddy Lincoln and Megan Dettling earned the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (18-18, 8-7 GNAC) two wins over the Saint Martin’s Saints (20-17, 10-10 GNAC) on Sunday.
In Game 1 Cassinelli carried the ‘Jackets to a walk-off win with a pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the seventh netting MSUB a 1-0 win. In Sunday’s second game, Cassinelli had a two run home run which paired with a Brittanee Fisher solo shot to back a 3-2 complete-game victory for Dettling.
The wins improve the Yellowjackets’ Great Northwest Athletic Conference record to 8-7 making them one of three league teams with a record above .500 and putting them in position to earn a GNAC Tournament bid.
Cassinelli’s first home run of the day was the 36th of her career surpassing Kelly Parsons for MSUB’s career home run record. The senior is now the Yellowjackets’ all-time leader in home runs and RBI.
Lincoln earned team-leading ninth win of the season on Sunday, eclipsing her total of eight from her freshman season. The sophomore is just two strikeouts away from surpassing her mark of 72 from last season. In 19 starts this season, the left-hander has three shutouts after the Yellowjackets recorded zero shutouts in 2017.
Fisher and Cassinelli each hit their seventh home runs of the season on Sunday as the duo separated themselves from a four-way tie for the team lead at the beginning of the week. Fisher’s total is now great than Cassinelli’s freshman mark of six home runs.
Dettling totaled seven strikeouts in Game 2 and retired the first six batters on strikes. The senior has five games with seven or more strikeouts this season and has fanned 85 batters in 87.1 innings.
GAME 1: MSU Billings 1, Saint Martin’s University 0
Cameron Cassinelli saw only two pitches in Sunday’s first game but it was all she, and the Yellowjacket offense, would need as she crushed a walk-off home run in the 1-0 win. Maddy Lincoln (9-10, 3.61 ERA) starred in seven innings in the circle. Lincoln earned her career-best ninth win of the season while allowing just four hits, two walks and striking out two batters.
Myrissa Prince had the first hit of the game in the bottom of the first, but the ‘Jackets would collect just three more base knocks before Cassinelli’s home run.
Lincoln had a no-hitter going through the fourth inning before allowing two singles in the fifth. The Saints loaded the bases in the inning with the help of a hit-by-pitch but the MSUB infield turned a sharp inning-ending double play. On a sharp ground ball, third baseman Emily Martinez made a perfect throw to home for a force out before Shayla Felix snapped the ball to Fisher at first to retire the side.
The Yellowjackets loaded the bases themselves in the bottom of the fifth after Allie Hughes led off the frame with a single. With two outs the Saints intentionally walked Tracy before Prince worked a walk to put a ‘Jacket on every base. A foul out ended the MSUB threat and sent the game to the sixth.
Each team had a baserunner in the sixth but never put the runner in scoring position. A double in the top of the seventh gave the Saints a chance to crack the run column but Lincoln shut the door with a ground out and a fly out setting the stage for Cassinelli. After SMU’s Lauren Maley (13-11) held the ‘Jackets to just four hits, MSUB’s Cassinelli undid a strong pitching outing in just two pitches. After fouling off the first pitch, the Yellowjacket slugger drove a no-doubt home run over the right-center field fence to end the game.
Game 2: MSU Billings 3, Saint Martin’s University 2
Megan Dettling (6-4, 4.49 ERA) set the Saints on their heels to start Game 2 as the MSUB starter struck out three batters on 10 pitches. She also allowed a seven pitch walk in the frame but she wasted little time with an 11-pitch three strikeout second inning as well.
It was a slow start for the MSU Billings offense in Sunday’s second contest as they were retired in order in both the first and the second inning.
In the third, Saint Martin’s put the first run on the board via a leadoff home run by Sabrina Hicks. After a single and a double from the SMU lineup, Dettling issued a walk to load the bases with no outs. After recording a foul out, the ‘Jackets turned a fantastic double play thanks to an outfield assist from Georgiabelle Benning. Benning made a great read on a sharply hit fly ball to center field before making the catch and throwing out the runner trying to score with the help of a Felix tag.
After avoiding a big inning, Dettling cruised through the top of the fourth and led off the bottom of the inning with a single setting the stage for Cassinelli. Again, after fouling off the first pitch, Cassinelli curved a ball down the right-field line for a two-run blast. The homer gave the ‘Jackets a 2-1 lead. Next to the plate was Fisher who followed with a solo home run to left-center field widening the gap to 3-1.
The Saints collected another solo home run in the sixth but Dettling would hold on to seal her sixth win of the season. Cassinelli doubled in her final plate appearance day giving her a final line of 3-for-4, two home runs, a double and three RBIs.
NEXT: The Yellowjackets will travel to Western Oregon (22-20, 10-10 GNAC) next weekend for four games. The Wolves are one of three teams with a 10-10 conference record. The ‘Jackets won 3 of 4 against WOU last season and the all-time series is tied 30-30.