(MSU Billings release)
ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Breaking multiple school and Great Northwest Athletic Conference records on Saturday, the Montana State University Billings baseball team emphatically swept a doubleheader from Central Washington University at the CWU Baseball Field.
Ryan Roche set the school record for hits in a game with six in the opener, and the ‘Jackets broke the school record for both runs (29) and hits (31) in the 29-4 rout. MSUB’s 31 hits tied the GNAC single-game record, and its 51 total bases in Game 1 broke the conference record of 50. MSUB improved to 26-18 overall and is now 26-10 in conference play with the wins.
The ‘Jackets sealed the four-game sweep of CWU with a 14-7 triumph in Game 2 Saturday. MSUB scored in 12 of the 16 innings played on Saturday, racking up 43 total runs, 46 total hits, and 81 total bases. With 60 total runs on the weekend, MSUB shattered the school record for runs in a four-game series. The previous mark of 52 was achieved from February 8-10, 2018 in four games played at Dixie State University. “It was a big day offensively for us as a team,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “We had sound approaches, and there was a relentless focus by our hitters all day. Our pitching staff was good all weekend through the entire roster, and it was really good for us to finish the deal this series. We were in a position to finish the sweep, and our guys emptied the tank. We are looking forward to coming back home and honoring our seniors next week.”
Central Washington meanwhile slipped to 14-28-1 overall and is now 11-24 in conference play to drop into last place. The Wildcats’ losing skid reached 11 games with Saturday’s defeats.
2019 GNAC Title Race Update
After Saturday’s GNAC baseball action, MSUB created distance at the top of the conference standings. MSUB’s magic number to clinch the 2019 GNAC regular season title is three, and four games remain on the schedule. The ‘Jackets are looking to defend their 2018 championship and win the GNAC regular-season title for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
2019 GNAC Baseball Standings (after games on April 27, 2019)
Place Team GNAC Wins GNAC Losses Win %
1 *MSU Billings 26 10 .722
2 *Western Oregon 22 11 .667
3 *Northwest Nazarene 17 16 .515
4 Saint Martin’s 15 20 .429
5 Concordia 13 23 .361
6 Central Washington 11 24 .314
*-Clinched GNAC Championships Berth
Daniel Cipriano hit two home runs on Saturday, upping his season total to 16 and inching closer to both the MSUB and GNAC single-season records. He is one home run away from matching Kaleo Johnson’s MSUB record of 17, which was set in the 2018 season. He is also two home runs away from tying Kyle Sani’s GNAC record of 18, which he set during the 2013 season while playing at Central Washington.
With seven long balls total on Saturday, the Yellowjackets have now hit 68 home runs on the season and are 10 away from their GNAC record of 78 which they achieved in 2018. Chris Arpan had two homers in Game 1, and Conner Poulson hit a long ball in the opener to record his first-career hit. Tyler Detloff added his fourth of the season in Game 2, after Matt Dillon hit his 13th of the year.
Game 1 – MSU Billings 29, Central Washington 4
After a seven-run top of the first inning in Game 1 on Friday, MSUB plated nine in the top of the first to hint a big offensive showing was about to unfold.
CWU made things interesting with four runs in the bottom of the inning, but it was all the scoring they managed in the ballgame. Yellowjacket starter Jarrod Molnaa struck out seven and walked three through five innings of work, giving up four runs on six hits and throwing 101 pitches on the afternoon. Molnaa picked up his sixth win of the year, moving into a tie with teammate Dylan Barkley and Western Oregon University’s Alex Roth for the most victories in the conference.
Will Heward, Brandon Maassen, and Josh Overstreet combined to throw the final four scoreless innings, striking out six and walking just one and giving up four hits between them.
Wyatt Setian was 4-for-6, Arpan was 4-for-5 with five RBIs, and Roche was 6-for-7 with eight RBIs in the opener. All nine Yellowjackets in the starting lineup had a base hit by the third inning, and the first home run of the game by Arpan extended the lead to 13-4. In total, 14 different MSUB players had hits in the ballgame.
The ‘Jackets scored in each of the first five innings, and held a 22-4 lead by the top of the fifth.
It was the second time in school history two players had at least five RBIs in a game. The last time was on April 7, 2013 when Mack Unruh and Brody Miller each had five against Western Oregon. It was also just the third time in school history that three players had four or more hits in a game. Colton Cosner, Kade Hall, and Conner Linebarger each had four on May 9, 2018 against Concordia, and the trio of Luke Reinschmidt, Kevin Toon, and Myles Berkram achieved the feat on March 28, 2015 against Saint Martin’s with Reinschmidt logging five hits in the game.
Roche became the 12th player in school history to reach five hits in a game, and the last to do it was Linebarger, on March 8, 2019 at Northwest Nazarene. He fell one RBI short of Colby Robison’s incredible school single-game record of nine RBIs, which he achieved on April 26, 2013 against Central Washington. Overall it was the 10th time in school history a player had six or more RBIs in a game. The last to reach at least six was Cosner, who had seven on April 21, 2018. Roche also had the record for at-bats with seven, becoming the ninth player in school history to reach that landmark.
Zander Petrich had his first-career hit, coming in as a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth inning. The true freshman hit for Setian, leaving the Yellowjackets’ starting shortstop a home run short of the cycle as he finished Game 1 with a pair of singles, a double, and a triple.
In addition to the runs, hits, and total bases records, MSUB also set school records for at-bats (59) and RBIs (27).
MSUB tied Central Washington’s GNAC record of 31 runs in a game, which the Wildcats achieved on March 27, 2010 in a game against the Yellowjackets. MSUB topped CWU’s total bases record of 50, which the Wildcats also achieved in the 31-21 win.
Game 2 – MSU Billings 14, Central Washington 7
After a scoreless first inning, MSUB stomped on the gas pedal with a three-run second and never looked back. The ‘Jackets added two more in the third, five in the fourth, and two in the fifth to take a 12-0 lead.
Left-hander Keven Mackintosh logged four stellar innings for the ‘Jackets, striking out five and walking one while giving up one run on three hits. Sterling Lay was effective out of the bullpen, striking out a pair and giving up just one hit in 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.
The Wildcats put together a final push to try to salvage a win in the series, scoring five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to make it a 12-5 game. Lay was summoned from the bullpen with runners on second and third and two outs in the inning, and got Jesse Unger to ground out to end the inning.
Landon Peterson hit a one-out double in the top of the sixth inning, giving him his fourth hit of the game to establish his career best. The ‘Jackets scored twice in the frame to up the lead back to 14-5, and finished off the series-clinching win.
Robert Ball helped CWU end the tough weekend on a high note, hitting his second home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh. Huter French started the game, and gave up seven runs on five hits while striking out two and walking one.
THE BUZZ: Roche was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 55-49 all-time against CWU and is 28-25 in road games…Roche was one hit away from the GNAC single-game record of seven, set by Sean McDonald of Northwest Nazarene on March 24, 2010 against Hawaii Pacific…MSUB’s previous record for runs in a game was 21, achieved on three different occasions…the previous record for at-bats in a game was 55, in a 16-inning affair against California Baptist on March 5, 2015…the previous record for hits was 23, against Concordia on May 9, 2018…the previous record for RBIs was 21 on Feb. 13, 2011 against CSU-Pueblo…the previous record for most total bases was on April 7, 2019 against Saint Martin’s.
AHEAD: The regular season wraps up next week, with a four-game series against Concordia at home in Dehler Park. Doubleheaders are scheduled for 1 p.m. on May 2 and May 3.