MSUB Baseball's Sweeping Success Earns Team of the Week
Montana State Billings launched itself from fifth in the conference standings up into a tie for second place with a four-game sweep of Saint Martin's last week.
Montana State Billings launched itself from fifth in the conference standings up into a tie for second place with a four-game sweep of Saint Martin's last week.

Monday, April 24, 2023

PORTLAND, Ore. – Montana State Billings baseball swept its way from the bottom up to second place in the conference standings last week to earn GNAC Team of the Week honors.

The Yellowjackets took four road wins against Saint Martin’s behind strong pitching that was backed up by plenty of production at the plate. They opened the series with 3-1 and 2-0 wins on Saturday before breaking out the bats for 13-1 and 7-4 victories on Sunday. The wins lifted MSUB from fifth place in the standings up to second place. The Yellowjackets are tied with Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington with a .500 conference record and hold a slim advantage with a .500 overall winning percentage.

“We played a complete game throughout the series and responded well to any adversity that the game presented,” head coach Derek Waddoups said. “Saint Martin’s is a competitive and scrappy lineup and did a good job putting the ball in play. I loved our outfield play on the weekend. We did a great job of minimizing innings.”

The series opened with a dominant pitching performance by sophomore Jackson Betancourt. The left-hander threw all nine innings against the Saints, allowing one unearned run on four hits with three strikeouts to lead MSUB to the 3-1 victory. Betancourt worked well high in the zone, earning 20 outs via the fly ball. His showing on the mound earned him GNAC Pitcher of the Week honors.

Junior Payton Flynn led the Yellowjackets at the plate in game one, going 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs. Flynn knocked in the Yellowjackets’ first run of the game in the fourth inning with an RBI double to score Kaden Kirshenbaum from first base. He also hit an RBI single in the eighth to bring Kirshenbaum home once again.

The lockdown pitching continued in game two with junior Trevor Cassell throwing his second consecutive complete-game shutout. Cassell allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out three batters en route to the 2-0 win. Where Betancourt utilized the fly ball, Cassell’s weapon of choice was the ground ball, earning 13 outs via the MSUB infield. Sophomore Bodee Wright led Montana State Billings at the plate, going 2 for 3 with an RBI single and a run scored in the fifth inning.

“Our pitching staff really set the tone for the weekend,” Waddoups said. “We had quality starts and great production out of the bullpen in every game.”

Sunday’s opener was a display of power for the Yellowjackets as they racked up 13 runs in the victory. Flynn was the top batter for MSUB, finishing the game 3 for 5 with three RBIs, a run scored and a walk and was a double shy of the cycle. He opened scoring once again with a solo home run in the second inning and hit an RBI triple in the eighth. His final RBI of the game was a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning.

Sophomore Jack Nehler did the most damage for Montana State Billings in the series finale, going 1 for 2 with four RBIs and two runs scored with a home run and a walk. Nehler opened his day in the best way possible, launching a grand slam over the fence in the first inning to tally all four of his RBIs. He came through to score again in the sixth inning, providing insurance for the MSUB’s lead.

“Offensively, we had great situational hitting and production from top to bottom,” Waddoups said. “I am proud of how our guys contributed as teammates and off the bench. Just an all-around great weekend for our team.”

Montana State Billings will look to build on its performances from this week as it plays its final road trip of the regular season with five games against Western Oregon from Thursday to Saturday.