(MSU Billings release)
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Chase Hamilton punched a two-out, walk-off single through the right side with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th inning Saturday, giving No. 12 Colorado Mesa University its second straight one-run win over the Montana State University Billings baseball team at Suplizio Field.
Matt Dillon homered twice, Jalen Garcia had four hits, and the ‘Jackets led 4-0 after two innings, but the Mavericks took advantage of being the home team and had the final say to improve to 6-1 on the young season.
“This was a very competitive game from both sides, and I believe both teams got a lot better today,” commented MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “It is tough to fall on the losing end of this one, but our guys are learning how to compete in big moments. We will learn from today and be ready to get after it again tomorrow.”
Wyatt Setian laid down a bunt single in the top of the eighth and came around to score on a bases loaded walk by Chris Arpan to make the score 7-5 late. But it wound up being the final hit of the game as the Yellowjacket bats went cold against reliever Will Dixon. The senior righty allowed just two baserunners – on a walk and a hit batter – while striking out eight in four near-perfect innings to lock up his first win of the season.
For the second straight day Dominic DeMarco hit a crushing home run, as his two-run blast with one out in the bottom of the ninth tied the score and brought CMU back to life. The ‘Mavs had six of their 16 hits in the game in the ninth-through-12 innings, and finally broke through in the bottom of the 12th.
Dillon hit solo home runs in the fifth and eighth innings, while Garcia had three singles and a triple in his first four times at the plate. Brandon Koszuth went 2-for-5 and Arpan finished with a pair of RBIs to lead the Yellowjackets, who fell to 0-2 with the defeat.
Jordan Stubbings and Johnny Carr each went 3-for-4, and six different players had an RBI for CMU. MSUB chased Maverick starter AJ Landis from the game after five innings, as he allowed five runs on 10 hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Andrew Morris bridged the gap over the next three frames, striking out four and giving up two runs on three hits.
Reigning Great Northwest Athletic Conference co-Pitcher of the Year Steen Fredrickson looked good in his 2019 debut, striking out six and giving up three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Sterling Lay gave up one hit and a pair of walks in 1 2/3 innings, and senior Will Heward tossed the final 3 2/3 frames with three runs on six hits, two strikeouts and four walks.
The ‘Jackets threatened in the top of the first, putting runners on the corners, but Landis coaxed a ground ball off the bat of Blake Bell to keep the game scoreless early.
A two-out rally in the second sparked MSUB to a 4-0 advantage, as Andrew Schleusner, Garcia, Arpan, and Conner Linebarger delivered consecutive RBI-singles. Each knock came within the first three pitches of the at-bats, as the Yellowjackets’ aggressive approach paid off.
CMU got itself on the board in the bottom of the third with a pair of two-out runs of its own, after an RBI-double by Caleb Farmer and an RBI-single by Stubbings.
With a 5-3 lead, a leadoff double by Carr spelled trouble for the ‘Jackets in the bottom of the seventh inning. Hunter Douglas came through with an RBI-single, and a passed ball brought home the tying run to make it a 5-5 game. MSUB responded immediately with Dillon’s second home run and Arpan’s RBI, and Lay got the ‘Jackets out of a big-time jam in the bottom of the eighth with a little help from his battery mate. Schleusner hopped on a bunt and fired to third to nail the lead runner for a big first out, and Lay followed with a strikeout and a ground out to keep the score at 7-5.
The ‘Jackets had to work hard to survive until the 12th, using an inning-ending double play in the 10th and stranding two more runners on base to end the 11th. MSUB didn’t mess with DeMarco in the bottom of the 11th, issuing an intentional walk to avoid his bat and to put the double play into order with Farmer at second. The strategy paid off in the inning, but the Mavericks came up with the big hit in the 12th to end the game.
MSUB left 13 runners on base Saturday, while CMU stranded 11.
THE BUZZ: Garcia was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 3-7 all-time against CMU, with all games in the series being played in Grand Junction…the triple was the ninth of Garcia’s career, and he is now three shy of Luke Reinschmidt’s school record of 12…Garcia came up just shy of the single-game hit record of five, which had been achieved on 10 previous occasions…the last Yellowjacket to record five hits in a game was Dillon, who achieved the feat on March 23, 2018 at Northwest Nazarene…it was the 22nd time in program history a player has recorded a two-home run game…Dillon also had two home runs on April 23, 2017 against Saint Martin’s…Dillon now has seven career homers, and has already surpassed his season total (2) from both 2017 and 2018…
NEXT UP: The series concludes Sunday, with another 9-inning game scheduled for 1 p.m.