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MSUB Regional Run Earns GNAC Team Of The Week
Winning three games in three days, the Yellowjackets were the last team standing at the 2019 GNAC Baseball Championships. Photo by Ellie Parker.
Winning three games in three days, the Yellowjackets were the last team standing at the 2019 GNAC Baseball Championships. Photo by Ellie Parker.

Monday, May 13, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – One week after winning its fourth regular-season title in the last five years, the Montana State Billings baseball team claimed its first-ever GNAC Championships title on Friday in Portland.

The Yellowjackets continued to play their best baseball of the season at Porter Park to claim the title at the 2019 GNAC Baseball Championships. The victory gave the club the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Division II West Regional while also earning the selection as GNAC Team of the Week. 

"It is a special group of guys and now we get to go represent our conference and school at the regional level," said head coach Aaron Sutton. "Those seniors have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this program and they have left their stamp on the team and on the conference. I couldn't be more proud of those guys, and they will be lifelong friends for me."

The club won three games in three days to capture another trophy, going a perfect 3-0 in the tournament. Senior Conner Linebarger was named the Most Valuable Player of the GNAC Championships after going 3 for 4 at the plate in Friday's game with one RBI and a run. He finished the tournament batting .600 while tallying seven RBI and two home runs in just three games.

Senior Steen Fredrickson was dominant on the mound for the Yellowjackets. The right-hander kept one of the league's best offenses at bay in Thursday's pivotal winner's bracket game against Western Oregon, striking out nine in seven innings of work while allowing just one hit. Fredrickson's shutout, combined with a 10-run explosion from his offense, sent the club to the title game with a 10-0 victory over the defending champion.

That title game was handled with ease for the majority of the afternoon as MSUB jumped out to leads of 5-0 and 7-1 against No. 4 seed Saint Martin's. The Saints rallied for four runs in the bottom half of the eighth inning, but reliever Jared Winslow was able to shut the door and seal the deal on the historic GNAC Championships title-clinching win.

"We have been through a lot of ups, and this is the top," Winslow said. "We have worked hard for this for five years, and this is one we will always remember for the rest of our lives."

The win now sends Montana State Billings to the NCAA Division II West Regional, where it will face No. 3 seed Point Loma in its first-round matchup. The trip to NCAA Division II postseason play is the first in program history.

The matchup with the Sea Lions is slated for a 7 p.m. (PDT) first pitch on Thursday, May 16 in La Jolla, Calif.

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