(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – After being named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Baseball Player of the Week on Monday, Montana State University Billings junior Daniel Cipriano has been named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association West Region Player of the Week announced by the organization on Tuesday.
Cipriano launched four home runs in the Yellowjackets’ weekend series at Western Oregon University, while going 8-for-15 overall and slugging 1.467. Cipriano became the first player in MSUB history to hit four home runs on a single date, blasting two in each game of Sunday’s doubleheader. “Cip had a big impact this weekend for us at the plate,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “It is a testament to his focus and work the last few weeks. It is great to be recognized at the regional level for him and our program.”
The NCBWA weekly awards are voted on by sports information directors in the NCAA D2 west region. Cipriano is now eligible to claim the NCBWA National Player of the Week honor, which will be announced Wednesday. The last Yellowjacket to nab the NCBWA Player of the Week award was Zach Robinson, who earned it on Feb. 22, 2017 after going 9-for-16 in a series at No. 12 Colorado Mesa. The last MSUB player to receive the NCBWA National Player of the Week honor was Luke Reinschmidt, who did so on Feb. 22, 2015.
Cipriano went 8-for-15 in the four-game series (.533), with nine RBIs, seven runs scored, and 22 total bases. He posted an on-base plus slugging percentage of 2.078, after reaching at a clip of .611 and slugging an incredible 1.467. Cipriano also had a pair of doubles in the series, while drawing two walks and also being hit by a pitch.
The Agoura Hills, California, native became just the 10th player in GNAC history (since 2002) to hit four or more home runs within the scope of a four-game weekend series. Among those 10 players, he is the third Yellowjacket as he joined Brody Miller and Colby Robison. Miller had four home runs – including two grand slams – in a 3-1 series win over Central Washington on April 10-11, 2015 at Dehler Park in Billings. Robison is the only player besides Cipriano to achieve the feat of hitting multiple home runs in back-to-back games, as he did it on April 26-27, 2013 in a series at home against Central Washington.
Three players in GNAC history have hit five home runs in a four-game series, including Kyle Sani of Central Washington who did it in the same series in Billings that Robison achieved his four-home run weekend. Jamie Nilsen of CWU clubbed five home runs on May 3-4 in Billings, and Chris Ridenour of Western Oregon had the first-ever five-homer weekend in the conference’s inaugural year of 2002 when he did it at Central Washington on April 20-21.
The most recent four-home run weekend by a GNAC player came last season, when Casey Sheehan of Northwest Nazarene University hit four at Colorado State University-Pueblo from February 16-17. It was the first and only four-home weekend by a GNAC player against a non-conference opponent.
Kaleo Johnson and Ryan Myers of the 2018 MSUB team also had a notable burst of home runs, coming at the GNAC Championships last May in Ellensburg. Johnson crushed five homers and Myers hit four, albeit over a three-day period in five games against various opponents.
Overall there have been 26 two-homer games in MSUB history, but no player has managed to hit three in a single game since the sport was reintroduced prior to the 2006 season. Cipriano’s nine total bases in Game 1 Sunday were tied for the 10th most in program history, and he was just two total bases away from reaching the school record of 11.
In addition to Cipriano’s big weekend, teammate Matt Dillon homered three times including two in Game 1 on Sunday as well. The only other time two MSUB players each hit a pair of homers in the same game was on March 30, 2018, when Myers and Kade Hall each had a pair at Central Washington. Cipriano is off to a 10-for-20 start to the season through his first nine games, and he carries a 1.830 OPS.
The Yellowjackets (1-11, 1-3 GNAC) are next in action at Northwest Nazarene University with a four-game series starting this weekend in Nampa, Idaho. Doubleheaders are set for 3 p.m. on Friday and 12 p.m. on Saturday, and live video and live statistics will be available online through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal here.