(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Seven players from the Montana State University Billings baseball team earned National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association all-region accolades for the 2019 season announced by the organization on Wednesday.
Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year Daniel Cipriano was a first-team selection, Jalen Garcia, Wyatt Setian, and Matt Dillon each received second-team, and Steen Fredrickson, Andrew Schleusner, and Chris Arpan were honorable mention picks.
“It is a great honor for these guys to be recognized with the west region’s best,” said MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “We truly believe our region is one of the best in the country, and these guys played at that level all year long. Our guys are proud to represent their team and school on this list of tremendous players.”
In his final at-bat of the 2019 season, Cipriano tied the GNAC record and broke the MSUB record for home runs in a season with his 18th. That total is tied for the second-most in the NCAA D2 west region, and Cipriano’s on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.356 was the top mark in the region. He won just the second Triple Crown in GNAC history, leading the league in batting average (.405), home runs (18), and runs batted in (52). He also paced the league in runs scored (59), slugging percentage (.827), on-base percentage (.528), and a record-breaking 27 hit-by-pitches.
In addition to being a unanimous first-team all-GNAC pick and the league’s Newcomer of the Year, Cipriano was awarded Division II Conference Commissioners Association first-team all-region announced last week.
Garcia was also a D2CCA first-team all-region pick, after wrapping up one of the best careers in MSUB history. The senior hit .354 with 14 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 33 RBIs. He also led the team with a dozen stolen bases, while slugging .605 and getting on base at a clip of .400.
The Billings native started 47 games in center field, and scored 42 runs while collecting 69 base hits. Garcia’s career batting average of .346 was No. 3 in school history, and he was also in the top-five in runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, total bases, and steals. This is the second straight year Garcia has earned all-region honors, as he was a consensus all-region selection during his 2018 campaign.
Setian was one of the most dangerous leadoff hitters in the region, combining contact and power for a standout sophomore season. The shortstop batted .327, while slugging 19 doubles, a dozen home runs, and driving in 48 out of the leadoff spot. Setian started all 53 games – the most in MSUB single-season history – while racking up 45 runs scored, 71 hits, and 130 total bases. He also stole four bases, while getting on at a clip of .379 and slugging .599.
Setian was a unanimous first-team all-GNAC shortstop, and was a D2CCA second-team selection as well.
Dillon was a unanimous first-team all-GNAC outfielder, and he earned second-team all-region from the D2CCA last week. Dillon ranked second in the GNAC this season with 15 home runs, while adding 13 doubles and driving in 42. The senior right fielder posted a slash line of .287/.413/.647, with his slugging percentage ranking second in the league behind Cipriano.
A native of Billings, Dillon started 49 games this spring while scoring 50 runs and drawing a team-high 29 walks. Dillon’s 19 career home runs were fifth-most in school history, and his career slugging percentage of .476 was 10th highest in school history.
Fredrickson earned all-region recognition for the second straight year, after ranking second in the region with 92 strikeouts in 2019. He led MSUB with 86 1/3 innings pitched, the third-highest total in MSUB single-season history. The senior right-hander went 7-2 on the year, posting a 3.96 earned run average and a .228 opponents’ batting average.
Fredrickson became the seventh player in GNAC history to reach 200 strikeouts, finishing his career at No. 7 with 209. He also wound up with 19 career victories, which was second-most in school history. He was a unanimous first-team all-GNAC selection for the second straight season.
One of the top sluggers in the region, Arpan battled injury throughout his stellar debut season at MSUB. The University of Portland transfer batted .357, with 14 doubles, 10 home runs, and 39 RBIs. Arpan ranked third in the GNAC with a .643 slugging percentage, and a .459 on-base percentage.
Arpan started 44 games primarily as a third baseman, and ranked second on the team with 24 walks drawn. He was a second-team all-GNAC and a second-team D2CCA all-region selection as well.
In his third season with the ‘Jackets, Schleusner posted a .293 batting average with 13 doubles, one home run, and 29 RBIs. Schleusner made 39 starts and played in 44 games, primarily as a designated hitter but also spending time as a catcher and left fielder.
Schleusner earned first-team all-GNAC accolades this spring, and was named the NCBWA West Region Player of the Week on April 8.
Cole Kleszcz of Azusa Pacific University, who leads the NCAA with 25 home runs, was named the NCBWA West Region Player of the Year. Right-hander Brandon Weed of UC San Diego, who had 53 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings with a 2.36 earned run average, was named the NCBWA West Region Pitcher of the Year. Azusa Pacific skipper Paul Svagdis was named the NCBWA West Region Coach of the Year, after piloting the Cougars to a regional title and a matchup against UC San Diego in the West Super Regional this week in Azusa, California.
MSUB’s baseball team went 33-20 overall and 30-20 in conference play in 2019, while winning the GNAC regular-season and tournament titles and qualifying for the first NCAA D2 West Region Championship in school history. The Yellowjackets’ 33 wins were a school single-season record, and their 30 wins in league play were a GNAC record.