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Billings Bested By Sea Lions In West Regional Opener
Montana State Billings starter Jarrod Molnaa went five innins on the mound in Thursday's NCAA Baseball West Regional lid-lifter.
Montana State Billings starter Jarrod Molnaa went five innins on the mound in Thursday's NCAA Baseball West Regional lid-lifter.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

LA JOLLA, Calif. – No. 6 seed Montana State Billings fell in an early hole and was unable to climb all the way back in a 10-2 loss to No. 3 Point Loma in the opening game of the NCAA Division II West Region Baseball Championship at Triton Ballpark. 

The game marked the Yellowjacket program's first-ever appearance in NCAA Division II regional action.

The Sea Lions plated five runs in the first inning to jump out to the early advantage in La Jolla. GNAC Player of the Year Daniel Cipriano led the Yellowjackets offensively by going 2 for 4 while outfielder Jalen Garcia went 1 for 5 with an RBI. Nine-hole hitter John Balliet went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and one run to pace Point Loma. 

With the loss, MSUB (33-19) will face elimination in tomorrow's game against No. 2 seed UC San Diego. That contest is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday.

Cipriano was the lone Yellowjacket to get into scoring position in the contest's first six frames. The first baseman singled in both the fourth and sixth innings before moving up 90 feet, but PLNU starter Zack Noll ultimately got out of both jams.

Noll went six scoreless innings on Thursday while tallying 14 strikeouts. 

The GNAC champions began to hit the comeback trail in the top of the seventh. Down 10-0, outfielder Tyler Detloff got the inning underway with a single to right field. He would then come around to score on an RBI fielder's choice off the bat of Garcia, one of two runs the club would ultimately tally in the frame. 

Both pitching staffs were locked in from that point on, cruising through the final two innings to halt the Montana State Billings comeback attempt. Designated hitter Chris Arpan did put the ball in play and reached safely after the club was down to its final strike in the ninth, but reliever Connor Barrett struck out the next batter to put a lid on the victory.

Senior Jarrod Molnaa took the loss for the Yellowjackets, falling to 8-3 on the season after allowing six earned runs and striking out nine. Noll improved to 10-2 with the win. 

The defeat snapped an 11-game winning streak for MSUB, a stretch that included a GNAC Championships title last week in Portland. The club swept the conference titles after clinching the regular-season championship one week prior. 

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