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MSU Billings drops series opener to Saint Martin’s, 4-3

Posted at 4:26 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:48:40-04

(MSUB Athletics)

BILLINGS – Freshman Matthew Dorney tossed four shutout innings of no-hit relief, lifting visiting Saint Martin’s University to a 4-3, 11-inning win over Montana State University Billings in the opening game of a four-game Great Northwest Athletic Conference baseball series Thursday evening at Dehler Park.

Dunaway took over with the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and proceeded to strike out four Yellowjackets over the next three frames to earn his first win of the year. Dunaway walked three hitters, throwing 82 total pitches and keeping the Yellowjackets off balance with a steady mix of a curveball and fastball.

“Their freshman came in and we just couldn’t get on time with him,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton, whose team snapped a six-game winning streak. “We have to bounce back tomorrow, and hopefully we can get it going.”

The Yellowjackets fell to 26-13 with the loss, and are now 25-8 in GNAC play while remaining at the top of the conference standings. Steen Fredrickson started for MSUB, giving up three runs on eight hits while striking out three and walking one in six solid innings.
Saint Martin’s is now 9-32 on the year, and improved to 8-25 with the victory. The Saints snapped a four-game losing skid, after being swept by Western Oregon University last weekend.

Micah McNicoll promptly lined the first pitch he saw from MSUB reliever Tristan Shockley into the right-field corner, leading off the top of the 11th inning with a double. Ryne Oshiro followed with a line-drive single to the same part of the yard, delivering what proved to be the game-winning hit.

Though the Saints settled for the 4-3 lead, the advantage had the potential to be more as SMU had runners on first and second with no outs. A sacrifice bunt gone wrong turned into a double play however, and Shockley struck out Adam Eskil to end the frame and give MSUB a final chance.

Dunaway held tough in his fourth inning of relief, striking out the final two Yellowjackets he faced on 3-2 pitches to end the extra-inning affair.

Adam Cox threw 2 2/3 strong innings of relief, striking out four and giving up no runs on one hit. The Yellowjackets managed just five hits on the day in support of their pitching staff however, and struck out eight times while leaving eight runners on base.

The ‘Jackets were held scoreless by Dorney through the first five innings, until Jalen Garcia lifted his seventh home run over the fence in left. It was the lone blemish against Dorney, who scattered four hits over six frames and struck out three while walking none.

MSUB evened the score in the bottom of the seventh inning, on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Dillon with runners on the corners. After moving along to third on a wild pitch, Colton Cosner broke for home on another ball that eluded SMU catcher Bryant Nakagawa, and slid in just in advance of a toss by then-pitcher Eskil.

SMU plated its first run on an RBI-groundout by Austin Feist in the third inning, before adding two more in the fifth with a base hit by Feist and an RBI-triple by Eskil, the reigning GNAC Player of the Week.

MSUB came close to winning the game in the bottom of the ninth, when Kade Hall drew a two-out walk and advanced to second on a balk by Dunaway. After working the count full, Garcia dribbled the 12th pitch of his at-bat up the middle where Kyle Hirano picked it up on the back hand. His long throw to first arrived simultaneously with Garcia’s head first slide, but Hall’s ensuing dash home was rendered irrelevant when the call on the field was out at first.

Oshiro and Feist each finished the game 3-for-5 for SMU, and Nakagawa and McNicoll had a pair of hits apiece. No Yellowjacket had more than one base hit in the game.

“We were just stuck between pitches tonight, and we don’t do that very often,” Sutton commented on his team’s lowest hit total since its last loss, a 4-2 defeat at Northwest Nazarene on April 13. “We need to go to work tomorrow morning and get ready for the next two games.”

THE BUZZ: Garcia was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…the ‘Jackets are now 38-45 all-time against SMU and are 16-23 in games played at Dehler Park…MSUB remains three wins away from clinching the 2018 GNAC regular-season title…the triple was the first of Schleusner’s career…by reaching base four times Thursday, Myers upped his season on-base percentage to .553 which is the third-highest mark in the NCAA…SMU also won the opening game of the series played in Lacey, Wash., on March 16, before the ‘Jackets rallied to win the next three.

NEXT UP: The series continues on Friday with a doubleheader scheduled for 1 p.m. Both games on Friday will be 7-inning affairs, and live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available online through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here.