(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Baseball will come a day early this week at Dehler Park, with Montana State University Billings pushing up its four-game set against Northwest Nazarene University.
Doubleheaders are scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday and noon on Friday, and live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal online here.
The series was originally scheduled to be played on Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m., but was shifted to avoid an unfavorable weather forecast on Saturday. The Yellowjackets will go on the road next week to play four games at Central Washington University April 26-27, before finishing the regular season at home against Concordia University on May 2-3.
With 12 regular-season contests remaining, the ‘Jackets are in first place in the GNAC standings at 19-17 overall and 19-9 in league play. “Our guys are ready to get out and compete against a good NNU ball club this week,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “We played some very tight games at their place earlier in the year, and both teams have been playing well. This weekend is going to be all about opportunities and capitalizing in big moments.”
MSUB is coming off a four-game series split with second-place Western Oregon University last weekend at Dehler Park.
LITTLE LEAGUE DAY FRIDAY: The Yellowjackets will host their annual Little League Day on Friday at Dehler Park, with all Little Leaguers wearing their uniform and one parent receiving free admission to the doubleheader. It is part of MSUB’s Little League Weekend, which features a camp scheduled for Monday at Dehler Park. The fundamental and skill-based camp is for children ages 6-14, and will run from 5-8 p.m. on Monday. Registration is $50 per camper, and for more information contact MSUB assistant coach Grant Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘JACKETS STAND PAT IN REGIONAL RANKINGS: The ‘Jackets remained No. 7 in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association west region top-10, released on Monday. It is the second straight week that MSUB has occupied the No. 7 position. The first NCAA D2 west region rankings, which will eventually determine the field of participants in the 2019 West Region Championships, will be released next week.
Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks
Thursday, April 18 – 3 PM DOUBLEHEADER – Dehler Park
Friday, April 19 – 12 PM DOUBLEHEADER – Dehler Park
2019 Record: 18-16, 14-11 GNAC
Head Coach: Joe Schaefer, 1st season
2018 Record: 19-31, 17-23 GNAC
First Meeting: MSUB 3, NNU 1 (March 8-9 at Nampa, ID) MSUB 13, NNU 6 | MSUB 4, NNU 1 | NNU 16, MSUB 9 | MSUB 16, NNU 9
The Nighthawks sit in third place in the conference standings entering the series, and are coming off a 3-1 series win over Concordia at home last weekend. NNU has won three straight league series over the last month, and remains in contention for the regular-season title. NNU will play eight straight home games to close the regular season after this week’s series in Billings.
Kyle Redford is NNU’s top all-around offensive player, batting .339 on the year with nine doubles, two triples, and three home runs. Redford is also third on the team with 22 RBIs, and is second with 12 stolen bases.
Parker Price leads the team with four home runs and 23 RBIs, and is batting .282 while playing in all 34 games. Shawn Grandmont is also tied for the team lead with 23 RBIs, while Jesse Hilyard is tied for the top mark with four home runs. Rocco Ferrari is NNU’s second-leading hitter with a .303 batting average, and he paces the squad with 13 stolen bases.
NNU is far-and-away the top team in the GNAC on the base paths, with 69 stolen bases in 90 attempts this spring. Thirteen different Nighthawks have stolen a base, and seven of them have at least five steals on the year.
As a pitching staff NNU has a team ERA of 5.41 which is third best in the conference. NNU has used nine different starting pitchers this season, with Cooper Webster, Hilyard, and Ben Johnson being the three most consistent starters. Webster leads the team with 46 innings pitched and 44 strikeouts, and he has tossed a pair of complete games. Jalen Fuhriman has been one of NNU’s top arms in relief, with a 3.22 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings pitched.
The Series: MSUB is 53-48 all-time against NNU, and has a record of 23-23 in games played in Billings.
Last Time Out: The ‘Jackets swept the Day 1 doubleheader, and then came back from an early 9-0 deficit in the finale to win 16-9 and swipe the series 3-1.