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MSUB baseball men 1 win from GNAC Tourney - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

MSUB baseball men 1 win from GNAC Tourney

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MSUB's baseball men rolled to 10-1 and 15-2 wins over Saint Martin’s Thursday at Dehler Park, drawing the ‘Jackets within one win of clinching a berth in the 2016 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships.

Luke Reinschmidt homered twice in the opener and Kyle Durbin went 5-for-5 with five RBIs and a home run in Game 2. Adam Cox reached base in all nine of his plate appearances and added a two-run home run in Game 1.

MSUB scored four runs in the seventh and five more in the eighth to back Johnson in Game 1, and the senior retired the final 11 batters he faced with six strikeouts to finish the stellar start.

Cox, the reigning GNAC Player of the Week, had four singles, drew a walk, and was hit by three pitches to reach base every time he came up. “The last few weekends, I’ve been really locked in at the plate,” Cox said. “I saw the ball well today and felt good.”

MSUB totaled 25 runs on 26 hits and made just one error in the doubleheader, improving to 27-18 overall and 21-15 in league play with the wins. Saint Martin’s fell to 15-33 overall and 12-26 in conference games.

With the wins, MSUB now needs just one win in Friday’s doubleheader to secure a spot in the GNAC Championships. MSUB is in a three-way tie for second place in the conference standings with Western Oregon, and Northwest Nazarene, which swept a doubleheader from Concordia Friday.

“Tanner was really determined to go out there and get this one for us,” said MSUB head coach Rob Bishop. “The biggest thing is playing loose and continuing to play our kind of baseball. Our guys have embraced everything that we are trying to do at this point in the year, and everyone has been stepping up and doing their job.”

MSUB has won four games in-a-row and nine of its last 10 overall.

MSUB still has a chance to win the regular-season title for the second straight year, if the ‘Jackets sweep Friday’s doubleheader, and Western Oregon either splits or takes 3 of 4 from a weekend series against Central Washington.

Game 1 – MSU Billings 10, Saint Martin’s 1

Johnson and SMU starter Mickey Walker locked into a pitcher’s duel, each posting zeroes through the first four innings. The Saints pushed across the first run of the game on a double steal with runners on the corners in the fifth inning, taking a 1-0 lead.

With two outs in the bottom of the frame, Reinschmidt lofted a high fly ball over the fence in right-center field for his eighth home run of the year, evening the score at 1-1.

Johnson surrendered a leadoff single to Adam Eskil in the top of the sixth, but it was the final hit of the day as the senior right-hander got into a groove and shut down the Saints. “I was just trying to get ahead and let the defense play behind me,” Johnson commented. “We are just going out to win, and we just need to keep doing what we have been doing the entire season.”

The ‘Jackets had a scoring chance in the sixth as Cox singled and moved around to third, but Walker got out of the jam and kept the score tied for the time being.

Freshman Alec Leighton kicked off the seventh inning with a base hit into center field, and an RBI-triple by Landon Peterson gave the ‘Jackets a 2-1 lead. Cox followed with a two-out, two-run line-drive home run over the center-field fence that plated Durbin and made the score 5-1.

After a 1-2-3 top of the eighth inning by Johnson, the ‘Jackets sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five more times to put the game out of reach. A two-run single by Myles Berkram and a three-run homer by Reinschmidt highlighted the second big rally of the game, as the ‘Jackets sealed the victory.

Walker had eight strikeouts and gave up three runs on five hits with two walks in 6 1/3 innings pitched. Johnson scattered eight hits and allowed just one run in his first complete game of the season.

Jake Huskey went 3-for-4 for SMU and Trevor Young had a pair of hits to lead the Saints in Game 1.

Game 2 – MSU Billings 15, Saint Martin’s 2 (7 Innings)

Unlike the first game, MSUB jumped ahead early with an eight-run first inning and never looked bat. Thirteen batters came to the plate in the bottom of the first, and Durbin had two RBIs with a double and a single in the inning.

MSUB starter Jared Winslow had to work out of trouble in each of the first two innings, but stranded runners on the corners in the first and the bases loaded in the second to keep the advantage in MSUB’s hands early on.

After a six-pitch top of the third by Winslow, Zach Robinson led off the bottom of the frame with a double to right center. Durbin lifted his fourth home run of the year over the right-field fence to make it 10-0, picking up his third of five hits in the ballgame.

SMU scored its first run of the game in the fifth inning, when Brandon Witherspoon ripped a base hit into center field with two outs to score Jon Pinto. MSUB worked the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning however, and Colter Sternhagen drew a walk for an RBI.

Winslow finished his day by stranding two more runners on in the top of the sixth inning, with Durbin handling a ground ball and stepping on his bag to retire the side.

Matt Dillon and Berkram started the sixth with back-to-back singles, and pinch hitter Brett Christina ripped an RBI-base hit into center field to kick off a four-run rally. Durbin and Morris added RBIs in the frame, as MSUB once again put the game out of reach up 15-1.

An RBI-double by Kaelen Hirashiki gave SMU a second run in the top of the seventh, but Lee Busto closed the door and Morris threw out Troy Hirano to end the game and finish the sweep.

Winslow had four strikeouts against two walks while giving up one run on nine hits in six innings.

Nick Mailhot started the game for SMU, allowing seven runs on three hits with four walks in the big first inning. Zach Stevenson threw 3 1/3 innings of relief, giving up three runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout.

Catcher Cameron Mosier went 3-for-4 and Witherspoon added two hits including a double for the Saints.

THE BUZZ: Johnson was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…it was Johnson’s third double-digit strikeout game of the season and fourth of his career…Durbin had his second five-hit game of the year…Reinschmidt leads the team with nine home runs on the year and is now ninth in GNAC history with 21 in his career…the ‘Jackets now lead the season series between the teams 5-1.

NEXT UP: MSUB can clinch a berth in the GNAC Championships with one win and can keep its hopes alive for a second straight title with a sweep of a doubleheader on Friday, with action starting at 1 p.m. MSUB’s 10 graduating seniors will be honored in a ceremony in between games.

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