(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Being recognized as one of the top rosters in the NCAA Division II West Region on Wednesday, the Montana State University Billings baseball team received five all-region awards announced by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association.
Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year Daniel Cipriano, and senior center fielder Jalen Garcia were each D2CCA first-team all-region selections. Sophomore shortstop Wyatt Setian, junior third baseman Chris Arpan, and senior right fielder Matt Dillon were named second-team all-region.
“It is great for our guys to represent our club at the regional level,” said Yellowjacket head coach Aaron Sutton. “There are some really good players in our region, so it is a big honor for them to be included among their peers.”
Cipriano, Garcia, Dillon, and Setian were all unanimous first-team all-GNAC selections for the 2019 season as well.
In the midst of an historic campaign, Cipriano leads the GNAC in batting (.400), runs (57), home runs (17), RBIs (51), total bases (131), slugging (.819), and on-base percentage (.527). The junior first baseman is also fielding at a clip of .986 in 295 chances defensively, and has started 44 games. The Agoura Hills, California, native was twice named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association West Region Player of the Week during the season, and is one home run shy of the GNAC single-season record of 18.
Earning all-region for the second straight season, Garcia has strengthened his senior year continuously throughout the spring. The center fielder is batting .362 with 14 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 32 RBIs, while starting 45 games. He holds a slugging percentage of .627 while reaching base at a clip of .410, and has stolen a team-leading 12 bases this year.
Arpan has overcome injury to produce the second-highest batting average on the team, and overall holds a stellar slash line of .365/.460/.662. Arpan has hit 14 doubles and 10 home runs, and has driven in 38 while starting 42 games primarily at third base. His slugging percentage is the third-highest in the GNAC, and he was a second-team all-league selection.
Dillon is second in the GNAC with 15 home runs and a slugging percentage of .669, and he has started 47 games in right field. The fifth-year senior is batting .294, adding in 13 doubles and 41 RBIs, while reaching base at a clip of .416. The Billings native is also fielding at a clip of .990 with just one error in 103 chances in right field.
The only MSUB player to have started all 51 games this year, Setian has posted impressive numbers all spring as the team’s regular shortstop. Carrying a batting average of .329, Setian leads the GNAC with 19 doubles, 68 hits, and 207 at-bats. He has also chipped in a dozen home runs and 45 RBIs, while slugging .614 and getting on base at a clip of .383.
Cole Kleszcz of Azusa Pacific University was named the D2CCA West Region Player of the Year, after leading the region with 22 home runs. Brandon Weed of UC San Diego was voted as the D2CCA West Region Pitcher of the Year.
MSUB and Western Oregon tied for the most all-region selections from one school with five apiece. It is also tied for the most in school history, after the team also had five different all-region players during the 2018 season. Cipriano and Garcia are now eligible for D2CCA All-America accolades, which will be voted on in the coming weeks.
The Yellowjackets (33-18) open the 2019 NCAA D2 West Region Championships on Thursday evening with a 7 p.m. contest against No. 3 seed #24 Point Loma Nazarene University.