Jackets shut down Saints in doubleheader sweep - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Jackets shut down Saints in doubleheader sweep

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Two runs in the first inning of Game 1 were all that Saint Martin’s University scored on Sunday, as Cody Cooper, Drew Christina, and Adam Cox combined to silence the Saints’ offense and lead the Montana State University Billings baseball team to a Great Northwest Athletic Conference doubleheader sweep and 3-1 series victory at the SMU baseball field.

Returning to the site where MSUB clinched last season’s regular-season GNAC title, the ‘Jackets received a clutch, two-out, two-run double from Corey Morris in Game 1 for a 4-2 win, and an RBI-double from Myles Berkram to plate the only run in a tight, 1-0 Game 2 victory.

After giving up a run on a wild pitch and an RBI-single in the bottom of the first inning, Cooper proceeded to go the distance as he had nine strikeouts and no walks while scattering eight hits and picking up his sixth win of the season. Christina struck out three and walked one with no runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings in Game 2, and Cox struck out five and had to battle around a bases-loaded jam in the final inning to complete 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

“Our pitching and defense were terrific today,” said MSUB head coach Rob Bishop. “Cody gave us another great outing and Drew and Adam were both exceptional. Saint Martin’s really kept us in check offensively, but I am proud of our competitiveness overall.”

MSUB managed just nine hits total on the day, with Myles Berkram, Kevin Toon, Cox, and Morris posting a base hit in each game.


With Western Oregon sweeping Central Washington in a four-game series in Ellensburg, Wash., the Yellowjackets (16-12, 10-9 GNAC) are now a half game ahead of the Wildcats (13-14, 9-9 GNAC) who come to Billings, Mont., next weekend for four games. The Wolves are now in third behind MSUB at 14-13 overall and 9-8 in GNAC play.

Leading the pack is Northwest Nazarene (18-12, 13-7 GNAC), which split with fifth-place Concordia (10-18, 8-10) over the weekend. SMU remains in sixth place at 9-17 overall and 6-12 in GNAC play at the midway point of the season.

Game 1 – MSU Billings 4, Saint Martin’s 2

The game-deciding rally started with a one-out double off the bat of Cox, followed by a walk drawn by Colter Sternhagen in the top of the sixth inning. Despite falling behind in the count 1-2, Morris fouled off a pair of pitches before roping his big double into right field to make the score 4-2.

Cooper allowed just two singles in the final four innings, sealing his sixth win of the season and giving MSUB a 2-1 lead in the weekend series.

The Saints grabbed the early lead, as a wild pitch followed by a two-out, RBI-single from Brandon Witherspoon made it 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning.

SMU starter Torin Dooley kept the ‘Jackets on their heels at the plate, retiring the first seven batters he faced before issuing back-to-back walks in the third inning. Landon Peterson made it to third and Morris was behind him at second with two outs, but Kyle Durbin ended the inning with a line-out to first base as MSUB stranded two in scoring position.

The Saints picked up a one-out baserunner in the bottom of the third on a single by Blake Lord, but the shortstop was gunned down trying to steal as Peterson nailed him at second to end the inning.

The big play from MSUB’s sophomore catcher helped shift momentum, as the ‘Jackets got on the board in the top of the fourth inning. Luke Reinschmidt reached first on a catcher’s interference, and promptly stole second to move into scoring position. Toon plated him with a base hit into right field, and Zach Robinson drove in the game-tying run on a ground out with one out in the inning.

Cooper responded with a shutdown frame in the bottom of the fourth, striking out the side. SMU’s Caleb Feist advanced to second after a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt to start the fifth, but it was the last baserunner of the game to make it into scoring position as Cooper put his foot on the gas and finished the complete game.

The Saints brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, after Trevor Young led off with a single. Sternhagen and Morris turned a ground ball off the bat of Josh Sontag into a double play, as MSUB eliminated any threat of a comeback attempt by the Saints.

Dooley gave up four runs – two earned – on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. Adam Eskil and Zach Stevenson each tossed 1 2/3 innings in relief for the Saints, and did not allow a base hit over the final 3 1/3 innings.

Trevor Young went 3-for-4 in Game 1, and Witherspoon also had multiple hits off of Cooper going 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Game 2 – MSU Billings 1, Saint Martin’s 0

Clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh and final inning of the series, Cox worked himself into a major jam by loading the bases with two outs. Pinch hitter Shane Kurihara singled, Huskey walked, and Witherspoon was hit by a pitch to bring Eskil to the plate in the biggest at bat of the day. A ground ball to Sternhagen at second base ended the scare however, as the ‘Jackets finished the series victory.

After Peterson caught two runners stealing in Game 1, SMU catcher Zach Raczok ended the first inning in Game 2 by throwing out Berkram and pulling even with Peterson for the GNAC lead in that category at 11 runners caught apiece on the year.

The Saints were baffled by Christina, who did not allow a hit until two outs in the third inning.

The ‘Jackets had a scoring chance in the top of the third, when a two-out single by Durbin put two runners on base for Reinschmidt. Saints starter Mickey Walker dug deep and struck out the Yellowjacket slugger, stranding two runners and keeping the game scoreless.

A leadoff double by Toon in the top of the fourth was wasted, as the next three ‘Jackets had non-productive at bats even with a wild pitch moving Toon to third base.

A single by Young was followed by a double from Raczok, as SMU put two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth and chased Christina from the game. Entering in the pressure-filled situation, Cox got Feist to ground out harmlessly and then blew away Sontag on strikes to get out of the jam.

MSUB struck first in the top of the fifth, as a one-out double by Berkram plated Peterson and made the score 1-0. A baserunning blunder by Berkram cost MSUB the chance for more however, as he was caught in a rundown between second and third and the ‘Jackets were limited to one run in the frame.

Cox retired the next five batters into the sixth inning, but the Saints pushed runners to second and third with two outs. The sophomore right-hander got Feist to ground out to Sternhagen, keeping MSUB’s 1-0 lead intact heading into the final inning.

Walker took the tough loss in Game 2, as he went the distance and had seven strikeouts against just one walk with one run allowed on five hits. SMU struggled at the plate however, managing just four hits total in the ballgame.

THE BUZZ: Cooper was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…he leads the league in strikeouts with 57 and is tied for the lead in wins with six…it was Cooper’s third career complete game and second nine-inning complete game of the season…Sternhagen was held without a home run for the first time in four games, as he tied the GNAC record for consecutive games with a home run (4) on Saturday…the 1-0 game was the first MSUB has been involved in since the 2012 season, when the ‘Jackets beat NNU 1-0 on April 21, beat SMU 1-0 on April 15, lost to SMU 1-0 on the same day, and lost to NNU on March 19…MSUB has now won three straight games and five of its last six.

NEXT UP: MSUB returns home to kick off the back half of the 2016 GNAC schedule, as the Yellowjackets host Central Washington University in a four-game series at Dehler Park next weekend. Doubleheaders in the 9-inning/7-inning format are scheduled for April 8 and April 9 at 1 p.m., and live video with play-by-play commentary and live statistics will be available for all four games through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here.

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