(MSUB Athletics release)
ST. GEORGE, Utah – Tyson Fisher brought a tough series for the Montana State University Billings baseball team to a crushing end on Sunday afternoon at Bruce Hurst Field, launching a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give No. 20 Dixie State University a 10-8 win and a four-game series sweep of the Yellowjackets.
MSUB (0-8) was three outs away from its elusive first victory of the 2019 season, after a six-run seventh inning made the score 8-5 in favor of the Yellowjackets. But Dixie State scored twice in the eighth to get close and walked off with the series sweep on Fisher’s second long ball of the year.
The Trailblazers improved to 10-2 with the victory.
Four Yellowjackets had a pair of hits in the game, while Conner Linebarger, Jalen Garcia, and Chris Arpan each drove in two runs. Despite its highest-scoring game of the season, MSUB still stranded 16 runners on base and struck out 11 times on Sunday.
The Yellowjackets’ big seventh inning featured a two-run double by Arpan, a two-run single by Garcia, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Blake Bell. Linebarger also drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk, as MSUB finally capitalized with runners on base.
Six different MSUB pitchers appeared in the game, with Keven Mackintosh making the start and giving up three runs on three hits with four walks in two innings. Jared Winslow and Josh Overstreet each threw two frames, and Brooks Zimmer and Sam Muskat threw one inning each to get the game to the ninth. Senior Will Heward suffered the loss, as he gave up the decisive blow to the final hitter of the game.
MSUB took advantage of two walks and a hit batsman in the first inning, with Brandon Koszuth delivering a bases-loaded sacrifice fly for the first run of the game. The ‘Jackets doubled their lead on Linebarger’s RBI-single in the second, before DSU’s offense awoke.
Similar to each of the previous three games in the series, the Trailblazers led by the fourth inning with the score at 5-2. Kade Cloward punched a two-out, two-run single into left field in the bottom of the second, which evened things at 2-2. Jake Engel doubled to center in the next inning, and Cade Spurlin followed with a two-run home run that gave the home team a chance to complete the four-game sweep.
After MSUB’s big seventh, DSU responded in the bottom of the eighth when a throwing error and a ground out brought home a pair of runs to make it an 8-7 ballgame. Tyler Hollow drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth and advanced to third on a base hit by Tanner Harper before Fisher ended it.
The Trailblazers also used six pitchers on Sunday, with Kaivon Kealoha making the start and giving up two runs on three hits with a strikeout and two walks in three innings. Jaden Jensen put up zeroes in 1 1/3 innings of relief, and Colton Harris took over and struck out three batters over the final 1 1/3 frames to get his second win of the year.
DSU again had an efficient performance offensively, stranding just five runners on base and scoring its 10 runs on 10 hits. Fisher went 3-for-5 in the game, and Engel was the other Trailblazer with multiple hits on a 2-for-5 day.
THE BUZZ: Overstreet was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 5-26 all-time against Dixie State…the six-run seventh was MSUB’s highest-scoring single inning of the year so far.
COMING UP: The marathon 40-game Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule gets started next week, with a trip to Monmouth, Oregon to face Western Oregon University. Doubleheaders are scheduled for noon Pacific/1 p.m. Mountain both Saturday and Sunday, and live video and live statistics will be available online through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal.