(MSUB Athletics release)
PORTLAND, Ore. – Landon Peterson hit a grand slam on Saturday, helping secure a Game 1 win and the fourth straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference series victory for the Montana State University Billings baseball team in a doubleheader split against Concordia University at Porter Park.
The Yellowjackets (14-14, 14-6 GNAC) rode another strong effort by senior right-hander Jarrod Molnaa to a 6-0 shutout win in Game 1. The Cavaliers (10-19, 8-12) responded with a 3-2 triumph in the series finale, winning on a walk-off single by Kyler Kedroske in the bottom of the eighth inning. “This was a good series win for us on the road,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton, whose team finished a two-week, eight-game road trip with a record of 7-1. “Our pitching was very good today and kept us in both games. Offensively we got away from a disciplined approach, and we will get back to work at that. I am proud of how the guys handled this road trip, and we are looking forward to getting back home and getting to work.”
MSUB extended its program-record winning streak to 10 games with the win in Game 1, and fell one game short of tying the all-time GNAC record of 11 straight road victories with the defeat in Game 2. The Yellowjackets are atop the GNAC standings at the midway point in the conference season, after second-place Western Oregon University (14-7, 11-7) split its series-opening doubleheader at home against Saint Martin’s University on Saturday.
Game 1 – MSU Billings 6, Concordia 0
Molnaa extended his scoreless inning streak to 19 1/3 innings, as he put up zeroes through six frames to earn the victory. The reigning GNAC and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association West Region Pitcher of the Week struck out three and scattered five hits, while walking four and throwing 110 pitches on the afternoon.
Peterson’s big swing of the bat came in the top of the third inning, as the ‘Jackets got all the offense they needed to win the game. Daniel Cipriano brought home the first run of the game with an RBI-single, before Chris Arpan and Matt Dillon loaded the bases with singles. Peterson then worked the count full before demolishing the 3-2 offering over the bleachers beyond the right-field fence.
The Cavaliers had one of their best scoring chances in the fourth inning, when they put runners on the corners with one out. Molnaa got Tyler Pruitt to pop up on an 0-2 pitch, before Peterson handled a soft grounder in front of home plate off the bat of Trevor Huddleston to end the threat.
Molnaa retired six of the next seven men he faced, before exiting in the seventh after a walk and a single to start the frame. Left-hander Sam Muskat stranded both runners he inherited, and went on to allow just two base hits over three shutout innings to pick up his second save in as many weeks.
Wyatt Setian made it 6-0 with an RBI-single in the top of the seventh inning, rapping the first pitch he saw into left field to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
The Cavaliers failed to capitalize in run-scoring opportunities, as they left 11 men on base in their second shutout loss of the weekend. Jake Roes took the loss for CU, giving up five runs on five hits with three strikeouts and five walks in five innings pitched. Kaleb Strawn struck out three and walked three in 2 2/3 innings of relief, and Andrew Marriott finished the game with a pair of punch outs over 1 1/3 scoreless frames.
Game 2 – Concordia 3, MSU Billings 2 (8 Innings)
Dominic Enbody roped a pinch-hit single into the gap in left-center with one out in the eighth, putting runners on the corners and the winning run on third. Kedroske then rolled an 0-1 pitch back up the middle into center field, prompting a celebration at first base as the Cavaliers avoided being swept in the weekend series.
Keven Mackintosh was dealt the tough loss, despite striking out seven and walking none over seven-plus stellar innings. Only two of the three runs he allowed were earned, and he scattered just four hits while throwing 87 pitches.
Huddleston was equally impressive on the hill for CU, as he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and gave up just two runs on one hit through six full frames. The left-hander struck out five and issued five walks, while throwing 91 pitches before giving way to Dylan Diaz. The righty earned his second win of the year, keeping the ‘Jackets scoreless with a strikeout and one hit allowed in two innings of work.
Just as he did in Game 2 of the series on Friday, Damon Peters got CU on the board in the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run in his team’s first at-bat of the game.
Mackintosh allowed just two singles over the next four innings however, and the ‘Jackets pulled even in the top of the second inning. Back-to-back hit batsmen set the stage for a Matt Dillon sacrifice bunt, and Peterson produced his fifth RBI of the day with a ground out to second that scored Cipriano.
The ‘Jackets had a good scoring chance in the fourth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Huddleston toughened up and struck out pinch hitter Tyler Detloff on three pitches to strand the bags full.
MSUB nearly got out of a jam with two on and one out in the fifth, but a high throw on the back end of a double play attempt allowed Jake Wikel to score the go-ahead run and make it a 2-1 ballgame.
Chris Arpan broke up the no-hit bid with a single to right-center in the top of the sixth, and Dillon lofted a deep drive near the warning track in left that scored Cipriano from third to even the score.
MSUB had yet another chance to go ahead in the top of the seventh with two runners on and two outs, but Diaz got out of the jam with a ground out. Mackintosh meanwhile struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to send it to extras, but the Cavaliers had the final say on Kedroske’s game-winning hit.
MSUB left nine runners on base in the series finale, while managing just two base hits to match their season low.
THE BUZZ: Peterson was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…MSUB is now 23-9 overall and 13-5 in league play…Molnaa’s streak of 19 1/3 scoreless innings is the second longest in MSUB history and the seventh longest in GNAC history…MSUB’s previous record for consecutive wins and consecutive road wins was eight, which it achieved from March 5-10 during the 2007 season…the GNAC record of 11 consecutive road wins was set by Western Oregon from March 23-April 23 during the 2005 season…Saturday marked the fifth time this season MSUB has lost in walk-off fashion…the home run was the fourth of the season and the sixth of Peterson’s career.
NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets make their long-awaited 2019 home debut next weekend, with a four-game series against Saint Martin’s University scheduled for April 6-7 at Dehler Park. Doubleheaders will start at 1 p.m. both days, and live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available through the MSUB Stretch Internet portal online.