(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)
PORTLAND, Ore. – Steen Fredrickson turned in one of the best starts of his career and the Montana State University Billings offense did the rest in a 10-0 rout of Western Oregon University Thursday at Porter Park to push the Yellowjackets through to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship game.
MTN Sports featured Fredrickson’s career story in this video earlier Thursday.
Fredrickson struck out nine and allowed just one hit in seven shutout frames of work. He shook off a tough first inning that featured a walk, a hit batter, and 30 pitches, and was nearly untouchable the rest of the afternoon. “Our team played a great game, and we executed a perfect game plan by our coaches,” Fredrickson said after the win. “I felt comfortable, and at ease. I got back to my rhythm and tempo after my energy got up in the first, and just executed my pitches.”
MSUB (32-18) will await the winner of Thursday’s evening elimination game between WOU and Saint Martin’s University. Friday’s championship game will begin at noon Pacific/1 p.m. Mountain time, and the Yellowjackets’ opponent on Friday would have to beat them twice in the double-elimination format tournament. “Our hitters really put it on, and stayed disciplined to their approach,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “Steen had a tremendous outing for us, and it was great to get Muskat and Maassen in there to finish it out.”
The Yellowjackets are one win away from tying last year’s school record of 33 victories in a season, and are also one win away from clinching a first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II West Region Championships running May 16-19. For the first time ever,baseballfinal0509 the winner of the GNAC Championships earns an automatic berth into the regional. “Steen really set the tone for us, and four innings straight of no hits was big,” said junior Chris Arpan, who had a three-run double Thursday. “It was a tough first time around (the lineup), but we just stuck to our approach. Anything can happen in this tournament. We kept finding barrels, and good things happened.”
WOU starter Connor McCord matched Fredrickson with zeroes through the first three innings, before the ‘Jackets sent nine men to the plate and scored four times in the pivotal bottom of the fourth inning. Tyler Detloff had the biggest swing of the bat in the frame with a bases-clearing three-run triple into the right-center gap, and Landon Peterson followed with an RBI-double to give MSUB a 4-0 advantage. “Det has come in countless times this season, and has always delivered,” Arpan said. “We knew he was going to deliver again, and I’m excited to see him live in the clutch.”
The ‘Jackets never looked back after that, scoring two more in the fifth, three in the sixth, and adding a finishing touch in the seventh to complete the runaway victory. McCord gave up five runs on seven hits, with six strikeouts and no walks in his 4 2/3 innings of work. Grant Fisher and Christian Hammerich combined to finish the game on the mound for the Wolves.
After delivering a game-winning, three-run home run in Wednesday’s 4-2 triumph over Saint Martin’s University, senior Conner Linebarger came through again with a two-run triple in the fifth and a solo home run in the seventh. Linebarger’s solo shot over the fence in right field pushed MSUB’s streak of games with a home run to 10, which is the sixth time in GNAC history that feat has been achieved. The Yellowjackets had a streak of 11 straight games with a homer earlier this season, and the record is 14 straight games with a home run set by Northwest Nazarene University from March 17-April 1 during the 2017 season.
Jacob Maiben led off the top of the second inning with a double, but it was the only knock Fredrickson surrendered in the game. The right-hander ended the inning with a pair of ground outs and a strikeout, and the only three batters to reach the rest of his outing were on one walk and a pair of errors.
Fredrickson punched out Griffey Halle on a 2-2 pitch to end the third inning, marking his 200th career strikeout. He is just the seventh player in GNAC history to reach the milestone, and he finished the day with 205 in his career which is third-most in school history. “He had all of his stuff, with a three-pitch mix today and just pounded the strike zone,” Sutton commented on the senior ace. “That is what he has been doing all year for us.”
Sam Muskat contributed a 1-2-3 top of the eighth inning, and Brandon Maassen worked around a leadoff single by Halle in the ninth to finish off the victory. Fredrickson earned his seventh win of the year and the 19th of his career, moving one win away from Brady Muller’s MSUB record of 20 career victories (2011-15).
ciprianohbprecordThe Yellowjackets tied the school record for consecutive wins with their 10th straight dating back to April 26. It is a record they established earlier in the 2019 season with 10 straight victories from March 16-30, and overall MSUB is 32-7 in its last 39 games.
Daniel Cipriano finished the game 2-for-3 with three runs scored, and he was hit by a pitch twice to bring his season total to 26. That broke Jamie Nilsen’s GNAC single-season record of 25, which was established during his 2008 season at Central Washington University. Arpan, Linebarger, and Detloff also had two hits apiece for MSUB.
THE BUZZ: Fredrickson was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 27-75 all-time against WOU…the last GNAC player to reach 200 strikeouts was Cody Cooper, who finished his career No. 3 in GNAC history with 237 punch outs from 2014-17.
NEXT UP: Friday’s championship game will feature live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics, available through GNAC.tv.