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MSU Billings sweeps weekly GNAC baseball awards

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 19:37:47-04

(MSUB Athletics release)

PORTLAND, Ore. – After helping the Montana State University Billings baseball team win its road series 3-1 at Northwest Nazarene University last week, senior Conner Linebarger and freshman Dylan Barkley have been named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player and Pitcher of the Week announced by the conference office Monday.

Linebarger put together an incredible series at the plate, getting on base in 13 of 20 plate appearances (.650) while batting 10-for-17 (.588) and slugging .882. The second baseman had two doubles and a home run, and scored eight times while driving in three.

In the opening game of the series, Linebarger tied the MSUB single-game record for hits as he started off his week going 5-for-5. Linebarger also drew a walk and was hit twice during the series, and he did not strike out in any of his 20 plate appearances.

Defensively at second base, he made all eight plays that came his way without an error. He helped turn a key double play in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 1, which ended the frame and kept a three-run lead in MSUB’s hands in the eventual victory.

Overall on the season Linebarger is now batting .356 which ranks third in the GNAC among qualifiers. He is also in the top-10 in the league in both on-base percentage (.435) and slugging percentage (.475). “Conner had one of the best offensive weekends I have seen,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “He found the barrel consistently all weekend, and came up with a lot of key hits for the club.”

Barkley locked up his first collegiate victory, with six shutout innings in the team’s 4-1 triumph in Game 2. The left-hander struck out eight batters while walking just two, and gave up only four hits while throwing 95 pitches.

“Dylan has had some very solid starts this year, with not a lot to show for it,” Sutton commented on the freshman, who was 0-2 prior to his latest outing. “This weekend it came together for him, and he competed at a high level. I am very proud of him for staying the course.”

This is the first-career GNAC Player of the Week award for both Linebarger and Barkley, and it is the second straight week the Yellowjackets have had a player honored. Daniel Cipriano claimed GNAC and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association West Region Player of the Week last weekend after crushing four home runs against Western Oregon University.

The Yellowjackets (4-12, 4-4 GNAC) are scheduled to play against Central Washington University in a four-game series this weekend. Due to unplayable weather conditions in Billings, the series has been moved to Cowley, Wyoming, with start times at noon on both Saturday and Sunday.