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Linebarger Blast Buzzes Yellowjackets Past Saint Martin's
Conner Linebarger's three-run homer in the bottom half of the seventh inning led Montana State Billings to a 4-2 vicory on Wednesday.
Conner Linebarger's three-run homer in the bottom half of the seventh inning led Montana State Billings to a 4-2 vicory on Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Playoff intensity was on full display on Wednesday night as regular-season champion Montana State Billings was able to escape with a 4-2 victory over No. 4 seed Saint Martin's in the opening round of the 2019 GNAC Baseball Championships. 

Behind the power of a three-run homer off the bat of senior Conner Linebarger, the Yellowjackets were able to turn a late 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 victory at Porter Park. The victory advances MSUB to the tournament's winner's bracket, where it will next face No. 2 seed Western Oregon on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. 

Montana State Billings received a mammoth of a quality start from senior Jarrod Molnaa, who went 8.2 innings while striking out 11 batters. The right-hander earned the victory, improving his record to 8-2 on the season.

"Things felt great tonight," said Molnaa. "I felt good early and knew I had my stuff. But early on you could tell it was going to be a pitchers' duel so I just tried to put up zeroes and give my guys a chance."

Matching Molnaa's success early was Saints starter Tanner Inouye, who retired the first 15 batters he faced. He took a shutout into the seventh inning, and his offense drew first blood when leadoff man Ryne Oshiro belted a two-run homer over the fence down the right-field line.

The Yellowjackets wasted no time answering back, however. Their big inning began with a Jalen Garcia single, and Garcia came around to score on a walk and an RBI single off the bat of Matt Dillon.

That set the table for Linebarger, who promptly cleared the bases with a three-run blast that cleared the bleachers in right field. 

Saint Martin's would mount a comeback attempt in the top of the ninth, putting the tying run in scoring position on a two-out bloop double via Ryan Colvin. That brought MSUB reliever Sam Muskat into the game, but he wasn't in for long.

Facing just one batter, Muskat got Oshiro to strike out swinging, sealing the deal on a 4-2 victory for Montana State Billings. 

Saint Martin's will now face Northwest Nazarene in an elimination game on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to face the loser of Montana State Billings-Western Oregon on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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