(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Each earning further all-region honors for the 2018 season, Kaleo Johnson, Ryan Myers, and Jalen Garcia of the Montana State University Billings baseball team were selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings NCAA D2 squad announced by the organization on Wednesday.
Johnson was a first-team all-region pick, while Myers and Garcia were second-team selections. Each player was also a National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association all-region selection, and Johnson was also a Division II Collegiate Commissioners Association first-team all-region pick announced last week.
“To be represented in three different polls as all-region players is tremendous,” MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton commented on the third all-region team announced for the season. “Those guys put in the work, and I’m proud of what they’ve done. It is great to see them honored with the rest of the players in the west region. It is one of the best regions in the nation, and they’re at the top as far as skillset goes and as human beings as well.”
Becoming the first player in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history to win the triple crown, Johnson broke the MSUB single-season records for batting average (.412) and home runs (17) and also led the league with 54 RBIs. Playing just 41 of 51 games, Johnson also broke the GNAC single-season record for slugging percentage at .845, which currently ranks No. 2 in the NCAA Division II. He was named a second-team All-American by the NCBWA earlier on Wednesday.
Myers also had a landmark season, as he smacked 16 home runs and broke the MSUB career record finishing his two-year stint with 27 long balls. Myers also reached base at a clip of .516 to break the MSUB single-season record, lead the GNAC, and rank No. 14 in the NCAA. He was hit by a pitch an MSUB record 23 times, while breaking the school record for runs in a season with 57, driving in 49, and batting .354.
Putting together perhaps the most well-rounded season in school history, Garcia demolished the MSUB single-season steals record to lead the GNAC with 25 while batting .351 and driving in 51 runs. He matched MSUB’s single-season record with 20 doubles, broke the school record with seven triples, and ranked fifth in the GNAC with nine home runs while slugging .653.
Zander Clarke of UC San Diego was named the ABCA/Rawlings West Region Player of the Year, while Joe Ryan of Stanislaus State University was named the organization’s West Region Pitcher of the Year. The other player from the GNAC represented on the all-region squad was James Smith III of Central Washington University, who was also a first-team selection.
The ABCA/Rawlings all-region teams are voted on by the NCAA Division II baseball coaches in the west region, comprised of the GNAC, California Collegiate Athletic Association, and the PacWest Conference. All first-team selections are now eligible for ABCA/Rawlings All-America honors, to be announced on Tuesday, May 29.
All three of the Yellowjackets’ all-region selections were unanimous first-team all-GNAC picks. MSUB broke the school record for wins in 2018, going 33-18 while capturing its third GNAC regular-season title in the last four seasons and advancing to the GNAC Championships title game.