(MSUB Athletics release)
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – More records fell on Wednesday at a blustery CWU Baseball Field, as the Montana State University Billings baseball team made a statement with a 21-11 win over Concordia University in the opening round of the 2018 GNAC Baseball Championships.
With the win, the ‘Jackets broke the school record for wins in a season as they are now 31-16 overall. MSUB hit four home runs with a nonstop wind blowing out directly to right field, breaking the GNAC record for home runs in a season as it upped its 2018 total to 66.
MSUB now faces No. 2 seed Western Oregon University at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. The winner advances to the 2018 GNAC Championships title game on Friday, while the loser plays an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. Live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available for Thursday’s game online through GNAC.tv.
The Yellowjackets also tied the school record for runs in a game, and broke the school record with 23 hits in the one-sided affair. The run and hit totals were also the highest in GNAC Championships single-game history, as the ‘Jackets smashed four doubles, a triple, and four home runs.
Conner Linebarger finished the game 4-for-4 with three runs scored, and was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. Colton Cosner and Kade Hall each also had four hits in the game, and the latter broke the school record for runs in a season as he scored twice to reach 54 on the year. Hall’s ninth home run led off a five-run bottom of the seventh inning, and was the record-breaking 64th home run of the year as MSUB passed Northwest Nazarene’s mark of 63 established last spring.
Kaleo Johnson followed with his 13th of the year and Andrew Schleusner hit his fourth, after Cosner started the flurry of long balls with his fourth of the year in the third inning.
MSUB exploded for five runs in the second inning, and added eight more in the third to immediately establish a 13-0 advantage. Though the Cavaliers rallied late with a seven-run top of the seventh, five more runs from the ‘Jackets in the bottom of the inning erased any doubt.
Junior Sam Wong pitched into the seventh inning to earn the victory in the game, striking out three and giving up eight runs – six earned – and throwing 117 pitches.
Trevor Huddleston was the first of four pitchers used by CU in the game, and he allowed eight runs in two innings. Wyatt Wentz gave up eight runs over the next four frames, doing the majority of the pitching on the day. Tanner Williams and Gabe Padukiewicz each had four hits for CU, which totaled 22 knocks of its own on the day. Concordia dropped to 23-31 with the loss, and is one defeat away from being eliminated from the tournament. The Cavaliers will play No. 3 seed Central Washington University in an elimination game at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Johnson went 3-for-5 with a team-high four RBIs, and Hayden Humphrey also had three hits for the ‘Jackets.
ALL-CONFERENCE CEREMONY: Prior to Wednesday’s game, the members of the 2018 GNAC all-conference teams were honored in a ceremony on the field. The Yellowjackets had a dozen all-conference players in 2018 including six first-team selections and three special award winners.
THE BUZZ: Hall was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…MSUB is now 8-1 this season against Concordia and is 20-8 all-time against the Cavaliers…MSUB had 21 runs on two previous occasions, Feb. 13, 2011 at Colorado State Pueblo and April 11, 2015 against Central Washington…the team had 22 hits in the game against CSU-Pueblo, and against Northwest Nazarene on April 25, 2015…MSUB surpassed the 2016 team, which finished 30-20, for most wins in a year…Hall is now two hits away from breaking the MSUB single-season record of 74 (Luke Reinschmidt, 2015).