Hape's start helps Jackets split with Saints - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Hape's start helps Jackets split with Saints

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Colter Sternhagen homered in each game Saturday to push his streak of games with a long ball to four, and Matt Hape was stellar in Game 2 on the mound for the Montana State University Billings baseball team as the Yellowjackets split a Great Northwest Athletic Conference doubleheader at Saint Martin’s University Saturday at the SMU baseball field.

The Saints held off MSUB for a narrow, 4-3 win in Game 1, but the ‘Jackets responded with a 3-1 victory in the nightcap.

Sternhagen ripped a two-run homer to left field in Game 1, and hit a solo shot in Game 2 to lead the Yellowjackets offensively on a day in which the team totaled just six runs. Hape was phenomenal as MSUB’s Game 2 starter, scattering four hits and allowing just one run while striking out six and allowing no walks in a complete-game effort.

Both Aaroun Shoup and Josh Sontag kept MSUB’s lineup at bay on the mound for SMU, as the two starters combined for a dozen strikeouts and gave up just 10 hits total.

“Colter had a great day at the plate and was also terrific defensively, and Matt really stepped up and pitched great,” said MSUB head coach Rob Bishop. “We really needed a big outing from Matt and he definitely answered and threw the ball well. We struggled offensively today, and we just couldn’t get much going. I look for us to come out determined tomorrow.”

Sternhagen had a double to go with his two home runs, and senior third baseman Kyle Durbin also had three extra-base hits on the day – all doubles. Luke Reinschmidt was 3-for-8 with an RBI in the doubleheader, and Myles Berkram stole a base, scored a run, and threw out a runner from right field.

MSUB is now 14-12 overall on the year and 8-9 in GNAC play, while Saint Martin’s moved to 9-17 overall and 6-10 in conference games.

Game 1 – Saint Martin’s 4, MSU Billings 3

Three of SMU’s runs scored on bases-loaded walks, and the fourth and game-winning run came home on a bases-loaded balk.

Sternhagen’s two-run shot gave MSUB a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning, but the ‘Jackets failed to score again despite putting runners on base in each of the final three innings.

Reinschmidt showed off his speed in the first inning, beating out an infield single and then scoring from first on a double by Kevin Toon.

Yellowjacket starter Tanner Johnson loaded the bases on walks in the bottom of the frame however, and Trevor Young showed a good eye to earn an RBI with a free pass.

MSUB threatened in the third as Durbin doubled and made it to third on a passed ball, but he was left stranded and the score remained tied at 1-1. After retiring the leadoff man in the bottom of the frame, Johnson allowed back-to-back singles, hit Caleb Feist with a pitch, and then issued a free pass to Zach Raczok to give SMU a 2-1 lead.

Johnson proceeded to retire the next nine batters in order, as he struck out the first two batters of the sixth and had the lead at his back after Sternhagen’s home run. But two walks sandwiched by a single loaded the bases again, and reliever Lee Busto issued a free pass to Sontag to tie the score at 3-3. The Saints inched their way ahead when Jared Winslow was called for a balk on the mound with the bags full, as Jake Huskey scored what turned out to be the winning run.

Durbin ripped his second double in the seventh and again advanced to third, as reliever Nick Mailhot loaded the bases with a walk. Sternhagen popped up to second however, as the Saints got out of the jam.

A leadoff single by Zach Robinson in the top of the eighth was erased by a 4-6-3 double play, and Mickey Walker worked around a one-out error in the ninth to close the door.

Johnson had eight strikeouts but was hampered with seven walks as he allowed four runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. Winslow was excellent in 2 1/3 frames, striking out two and allowing just two hits with no walks.

Shoup struck out seven and walked four, allowing one run on four hits in five innings.

Game 2 – MSU Billings, 3, Saint Martin’s 1

Another double from Durbin and a base hit from Reinschmidt helped MSUB take the lead in the sixth inning, and Sternhagen’s fourth home run in as many games added an insurance run in the seventh as the ‘Jackets scored enough to back an outstanding Hape on the mound.

Hape retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, as he and Sontag were locked into a pitcher’s duel with zeroes on the board through three innings.

The ‘Jackets had a chance in the second as Sternhagen ripped a double into the left-field corner, but a flyout ended the inning with no harm done.

Berkram showed off his arm in the bottom of the fourth, catching Brandon Witherspoon trying to advance an extra base after a single. Young came through with a two-out, RBI-single however, as he brought Huskey home and made the score 1-0.

Sontag backed up the run of support by striking out the side in the top of the fifth, recording three of his five total strikeouts in one frame.

Berkram led off the top of the sixth with a base hit, and Durbin’s third double of the day brought him home to tie the score. Reinschmidt ripped a base hit into center field for an RBI, but MSUB’s momentum stopped there as Toon lined into a double play.

Just as he started his current streak of home runs four games ago with a solo shot to dead center field at Dehler Park, Sternhagen led off the seventh inning with a deep drive to the same part of the ballpark to make the score 3-1.

Hape was untouchable after the hiccup in the fourth inning, as he retired the final 10 batters he faced in the ballgame in his best start of the year. His counterpart Sontag took the loss despite pitching well, as he did not issue a walk and scattered six hits in six innings.

THE BUZZ: Hape was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…Sternhagen now ranks third on the team with four home runs on the season…MSUB won 7 of 8 games between the teams last season.

COMING UP: The series concludes on Sunday, as a doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m. Mountain time. Live statistics will be available through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here.

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