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Top-seeded MSU Billings opens GNAC Tourney Championships Wednesday

Posted at 4:18 PM, May 08, 2019

(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Montana State University Billings baseball team was hardly satisfied with wrapping up its fourth Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title in the last five years on Friday at Dehler Park.

The Yellowjackets claimed the conference title and enter this week’s GNAC Championships hungry to extend their season further. For the first time ever, the winner of this week’s tournament, which begins Wednesday at Porter Park on the campus of Concordia University, will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II West Region Championships running May 16-19.

The ‘Jackets (30-18, 30-10 GNAC) will open the tournament on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Mountain, against No. 4 seed Saint Martin’s University (19-30, 15-25). The winner will play at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the loser will play at noon Thursday, against either No. 2 seed Western Oregon University (29-11, 26-11) or No. 3 seed Northwest Nazarene University (24-22, 20-17). All games at the 2019 GNAC Baseball Championships will feature live video with play-by-play commentary, and live statistics, available online through GNAC.tv.

2019 GNAC Baseball Championships Schedule
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Game 1: 2:30 PM – No. 3 seed Northwest Nazarene vs. No. 2 seed Western Oregon
Game 2: 6 PM – No. 4 seed Saint Martin’s vs. No. 1 seed MSU Billings

Thursday, May 9, 2019
Game 3: 12 PM – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (elimination game)
Game 4: 3:30 PM – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
Game 5: 7 PM – Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 (elimination game)

Friday, May 10, 2019
Game 6: 12 PM – Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5
Game 7: 3:30 PM – Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary)
*All times local (Pacific Standard)

“Playoff baseball is upon us, and the success of the ball club is going to be determined by the things that got us here,” MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton said. “Like we have said all year, we are 0-0, and truly each team gets to start over now. If we can be consistent in our play, pound the zone, play catch, and create offense, we will have as good a chance as anyone to walk away with a championship. Our guys are just sticking to the process, and what is important is having a clean practice today once we get over to the ballpark.”

MSUB enters the tournament on a roll, as it closed the regular season with eight straight victories over the last two weeks to successfully defend the 2018 title. The ‘Jackets swept Concordia University last week in a four-game series at Dehler Park, and are now two wins shy of their season- and program-best winning streak of 10 straight which they enjoyed from March 16-30.

CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: MSUB came close to an unprecedented tournament title a season ago, falling to Western Oregon University 8-4 in the championship game last May in Ellensburg, Washington. It was the Yellowjackets’ most successful venture at the conference tournament, as MSUB had won just one game in four appearances prior to 2018. This will be MSUB’s sixth GNAC tournament appearance and fifth straight, and the team has been every year since its inception in 2013 with the exception of the 2014 campaign.

Opposition At A Glance

No. 2 Seed Western Oregon University
2019 Record: 29-11, 26-11 GNAC
Head Coach: Kellen Walker, 7th season
Record vs. MSUB: 5-3 (3-1 Home, 2-2 Away)

No. 3 Seed Northwest Nazarene University
2019 Record: 24-22, 20-17 GNAC
Head Coach: Joe Schaefer, 1st season
Record vs. MSUB: 2-6 (1-3 Home, 1-3 Away)

No. 4 Seed Saint Martin’s University
2019 Record: 19-30, 15-25 GNAC
Head Coach: Kelly Gau, 2nd season
Record vs. MSUB: 1-7 (0-4 Home, 1-3 Away)