(Editor’s Note: MSUB Athletics Press Release)
BILLINGS, MT – After collecting just one hit in a 6-0 loss in Game 1, the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (22-23, 12-12 GNAC) picked up a crucial 6-5 Game 2 win over Northwest Nazarene (27-20, 18-8 GNAC). The win will prove vital to the Yellowjackets Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament hopes as they remain tied with Simon Fraser and Western Oregon for the fourth and final spot.
Cameron Cassinelli broke up a no-hit bid by the Nighthawks’ Jordan Adams in the bottom of the seventh inning with a well-struck single through the right-side of the infield. It is only the second time this season that the Yellowjackets have been held to fewer than three hits in a game.
“I think we just faced a really good pitcher in Game 1,” head coach Jessica Rayman said after the split. “She is one of the top pitchers in our conference so we had to make the adjustment. We started to put the ball in play but it was tough to only get one hit. I thought we did a great job bouncing back in the second game. We stayed consistent and when they hit the grand slam we came back with the three-run bomb by Brit (Brittanee Fisher). Later in the game with Megs (Megan Dettling) laying down the squeeze, we really did everything to earn that win. From small-ball to the long-ball it was really fun to see our offense produce.”
Cassinelli and Brittanee Fisher were the only Yellowjackets to have multiple hits on Friday. Fisher’s 2-for-4 performance in Game 2 was the seventh multi hit game of the season. The freshman is now batting .310 on the year. Cassinellii had a single in both games and is now hitting .361 this season.
Heather Tracy went 1-for-6 at the plate though she narrowly missed a single with a slap-bunt in Game 2. The senior is batting exactly .500 this season with 81 hits in 162 at-bats. She became the Yellowjackets’ all-time at-bats leader in the contest as she has now come to the plate 628 times in her MSUB career. She is now tied with Bella Rovens for the most games played in MSUB history with 190.
With the win the Yellowjackets snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Nighthawks.
Tomorrow the Yellwojackets and Nighthawks will play two more game start 12 p.m. as they honor six seniors. It will be the final home games for Tracy, Dettling, Cassinelli, Myrissa Prince, Amanda Barham and Jessica Bagnell.
Game 1: Northwest Nazarene 6, MSU Billings 0
It was a battle of contrasting pitching styles in Game 1 as Maddy Lincoln (11-13, 3.25 ERA) and Jordan Adams (17-5, 1.32 ERA) mowed through batters. Lincoln used location and her defense to hold the Nighthawks hitless the first time through the lineup while Adams powered her way to eight consecutive strikeouts to start the game.
Northwest Nazarene’s Kylie Orr collected the first hit of the game as she laced a double in the left-center field in the fourth inning. With a pinch-runner inserted, the Nighthawks capitalized with an RBI-double from Brittany Genuardi to score the first run of the game. NNU collected another run on an error before Lincoln retired the side with a strikeout.
The Yellowjackets got their first baserunner of the game in the bottom of the fourth when Tracy was hit by a pitch. On a Myrissa Prince a sacrifice bunt attempt, Tracy tried to go first-to-third and was thrown out after the NNU first baseman bobbled the ball. The following play was also unusual as Dettling hit a shallow fly ball to left field where the shortstop dropped it and recorded a force out at second base. Adams picked up her ninth strikeout of the game to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, the Nighthawks picked up their third hit of the game and had their base-running ace Cassidy Fifield on first after a fielder’s choice. Fifield attempted to steal her 17th base of the season but MSUB catcher Madison Kelly throw out the speedster and Kelsee Bushell applied the tag.
Following three more strikeouts for Adams, the Nighthawks put together a rally in the top of the sixth. Orr started the rally with a one-out double for the ‘Hawks and later scored on a single. After a walk, NNU claimed a 5-0 lead after a pair of throwing errors by the Yellowjackets. Lincoln picked up her fourth and fifth strike out of the game to end the inning.
The Night hawks added on more in the top of the seventh with a solo-home run by Fifield. Lincoln finished the game allowing just two earned runs with five strikeouts on eight hits. Adams had 15 strikeouts in the game while allowing just one hit.
Game 2: MSU Billings 6, Northwest Nazarene 5
Megan Dettling (8-4, 4.50 ERA) went the distance in Game 2 and allowed just three hits in the final four inning of the victory. The senior was in trouble in the third inning when she allowed a grand slam but fought back to keep the ‘Jackets postseason hopes alive with a solid outing.
“Megan settled in after giving up an unlucky hit,” Rayman said of the grand slam. “She walked a couple batters and they came up with a timely hit but she did a great job to come back.”
The Yellowjacket offense was quick to get baserunners in Game 2 as Prince and Dettling each drew one-out walks. With two outs in the inning, Brittanee Fisher lined what looked to be a sure single up the middle but a diving play by NNU’s Shelbie Martinez at second base robbed the ‘Jackets of their first run of the game with a force-out at second.
Each team had a four-run third inning with the Nighthawks hitting a grand slam in the top of the inning. Dettling surrendered two walks and a single in front of a no-doubt home run from Orr giving the ‘Hawks a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Prince and Cassinelli worked walks before Fisher came to the plate. The freshman worked a 1-2 count into a full count and knocked her ninth home run of the season on the pay-off pitch. The ‘Jackets kept things rolling after Bushell and Emily Martinez were each hit by a pitch. Shayla Felix delivered a single up the middle that tied the game 4-4.
Dettling retired the side in order in the fourth and the ‘Jackets brought just three batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning. Orr gave NNU their second lead of the game with a solo homer in the fifth making it 5-4 ‘Hawks.
After a few singles from Cassinelli and Fisher to start the bottom of the fifth, the Nighthawks turned to Game 1 starter Adams to get the close. Adams record three strikeouts to end the inning and go to the sixth.
NNU looked to be poised to start another rally with a leadoff single in the sixth. The ‘Hawks were looking to move their runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt but Felix made an outstanding play behind the plate as she caught a popped up foul ball and threw behind the runner at first to record a double play.
Tracy broke through with a single in the bottom of the sixth to record her first hit of the day. A big double from Prince had the Yellowjackets poised to score with no outs in the inning. With the power-hitting Dettling at the plate, the ‘Jackets executed a perfect squeeze play as she laid down a bunt that allowed Tracy to score the tying run. An NNU error allowed the Yellowjacket to take a 6-5 heading into the seventh.
It took Dettling eight pitches to induce a Fifield ground out, recording the first out of the inning. The MSUB pitcher followed with a strikeout leaving just one more out to go. Orr came to the plate with a 2-for-3, two home run line against Dettling but the Yellowjacket senior ended the game with a fly out in foul territory on a pitch inside.