Jacket Baseball Wins Big, then Walks off on CWU - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Jacket Baseball Wins Big, then Walks off on CWU

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From Montana State University, Billings:

BILLINGS, Mont. – Conner Holbrook capped off a memorable weekend for the Montana State University Billings baseball team, as his RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth inning gave the Yellowjackets a 10-9 walkoff win and a 3-1 series victory over visiting Great Northwest Athletic Conference opponent Central Washington on Saturday at Dehler Park.

The Yellowjackets led the final game 7-2 entering the seventh and final inning, but CWU put together a seven-run rally to take a 9-7 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Casey Merritt blasted his first home run of the season off of the scoreboard beyond the fence in right field, a two-run shot that knotted the score at 9-9 and forced the extra inning.

“I knew I was the tying run and I had to get 360 feet, so I was thinking, ‘how am I going to do that,'” Merritt said. “A home run was the last thing on my mind. I was just looking for a pitch that I could handle, put it into a hole or up the middle, and I managed to see a first pitch changeup that he left up that I had hit before.”

In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, MSUB tied a program record for runs in a single game in the 21-8 victory. After surrendering a run in the top of the first, MSUB scored six in the bottom of the frame and never looked back.

“Our guys did a good job in the series of getting into the bullpen as early as we can,” said MSUB head coach Rob Bishop. “The happiest I can be as a coach is when our team covers each other and that's what happened in the second game today.”

Senior second baseman Brody Miller had two home runs in the first game, including his second grand slam of the series. Miller went 3-for-6 in Game 1 and 4-for-4 with his fourth home run of the weekend in Game 2 to earn St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day honors. On the weekend Miller hit .556 (10-for-18), with four homers, 14 RBIs, eight runs scored, three doubles, three walks and a hit by pitch with just one strikeout in 22 plate appearances.

“I was just seeing the ball well,” Miller said. “I tried to stay patient and not to do too much.”

“Brody was just on fire,” Bishop said. “He was seeing the ball so well and he has been very consistent over the course of his career. He crushed the ball all day long.”

For the ‘Jackets on Saturday, Tanner Johnson earned the win in Game 1 by tossing five innings, striking out four and allowing three runs on six hits. Lucas Blehm earned the win in Game 2, by throwing 1 2/3 innings of relief and finishing the game.

On the day MSUB had 37 hits compared with 22 by the Wildcats, but MSUB left only 20 on base while CWU stranded 25 including 16 in Game 1. Benjamin Dunbar had the lone home run of the series for the Wildcats in Game 2 Saturday, a solo blast that made the score 1-0 in the second inning.

With the wins MSUB improved to 17-18 on the season and remained in second place in the GNAC standings with a conference record of 12-7. CWU fell to 18-21 and the Wildcats are now 9-15 in conference action.

Game 1 – MSU Billings 21, Central Washington 8

Setting the tone early, MSUB plated six runs in the first and used an eight-run fourth inning to put Game 1 out of reach. Miller drove in six runs in the game, adding a two-run home run in the seventh inning after his second grand slam in as many days came in the big fourth inning for the ‘Jackets.

Six total MSUB players drove in multiple runs, as Merritt went 3-for-6 with four RBIs and freshman catcher Landon Peterson was 1-for-3 with three driven in.

The Wildcats never threatened, but managed to score two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth before MSUB closed out the win.

In relief of Johnson, Bryon Baker tossed 1 2/3 strong innings allowing two unearned runs on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Lee Busto made his 22nd appearance of the season, allowing no runs on two hits in 1 2/3 innings to finish the game.

The Yellowjackets jumped all over CWU starter Dustin Hamilton, who exited after recording just one out in the first inning. The Wildcats ended up using six different pitchers in the lopsided loss, and Travis Cook, the final of the six, was the only one not to surrender a run.

Each team had a pair of errors, and MSUB benefitted from 10 walks and five hit batsmen by the CWU pitching staff.

Kasey Bielec was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored for CWU in Game 1.

Game 2 – MSU Billings 10, Central Washington 9 (8 Innings)

Looking to have the series finale all but wrapped up, the Yellowjackets stumbled in the seventh inning as CWU came storming back with seven runs. The ‘Jackets needed just three outs to collect the win, but a combination of big hits and a letdown in MSUB's pitching and defense let CWU back into the game.

Staring defeat in the face with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Merritt got his 10th and most important hit of the weekend as his two-run shot scored Holbrook and evened the score at 9-9.

After Blehm shut down the ‘Cats in the top of the eighth, Luke Reinschmidt reached on an error and moved to third on a base hit by Corey Morris. After a groundout hit too softly to score Reinschmidt, Holbrook came through with the two-out game winner and sent the ‘Jackets into a mob behind first base with the series victory.

Back-to-back RBI-doubles by Miller and Colter Sternhagen led to a three-run third inning that pushed MSUB ahead 4-1 early.

The ‘Cats responded with a run in the sixth on an RBI-single by Johnathan Dailey, but Miller's fourth home run of the series catalyzed a three-run bottom of the sixth and made the score 7-2.

Miller was 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the second game, and representing the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh, was intentionally walked by the Wildcats in order to avoid his impossibly hot bat.

Holbrook finished Game 2 3-for-5 at the plate, and caught three of the four games for MSUB in the series.

For CWU, Myles Wesener and Dailey had a pair of hits apiece in the series finale.