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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT Evan O’Kelly Director of Communications O: (406) 657-2130 E: evan.okelly@msubillings.edu Thursday, February 16, 2017 Yellowjacket baseball set for 4 games at No. 10 Colorado Mesa

Facing a nationally-ranked opponent this week, the Montana State University Billings baseball team will travel to Grand Junction, Colo., to take on No. 10 Colorado Mesa in a four-game series. BILLINGS, Mont. – A non-conference schedule filled with premier competition continues this weekend for the Montana State University Billings baseball team, as the Yellowjackets head to Grand Junction, Colo., for a four-game series against No. 10 Colorado Mesa University. The ’Jackets and Mavericks will play a 9-inning game at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, a 9-inning/7-inning doubleheader on Saturday at noon, and another 9-inning game on Sunday at noon. All four games will feature live video available here, and live statistics available here. “Colorado Mesa has established itself as one of the top Division II programs in the country, and I think it’s great for us to get out there and play against programs like this,” said first-year MSUB head coach Aaron Sutton. “The biggest thing for


us is not to shy away from the competition. Our guys are going to be challenged, but they are ready. Coming out of last weekend, now that they’ve got their feet wet, they’re chomping at the bit to get out there again.” MSUB (0-3) started its season last weekend with three losses at Colorado School of Mines. The Yellowjackets have seven more non-conference games, including three more next week at No. 16 Dixie State University, before beginning their 40game Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule. MERRITT’S GRAND RETURN: In his first time on the diamond since last March, senior Casey Merritt made the most of his debut and parlayed it into his first-ever GNAC Player of the Week award. Merritt reached base in 9 of 14 plate appearances, while picking up seven hits in 11 at bats, drawing a walk, being hit by a pitch, and stealing a base. Merritt also scored a pair of runs and laid down a sacrifice bunt, and made four catches in center field. CATCHING UP: Junior catcher Landon Peterson started the season with a bang, hitting his first career home run and batting 4-for-10 with three extra-base hits last week. Peterson is looking to improve on his .195 batting average from a season ago, and he had only five extra base hits in his two seasons prior to last week’s outburst. Fellow backstop Kade Hall also had a strong showing last week, going 4-for-7 with a double and three RBIs in a pair of starts behind the plate. The junior transfer from Treasure Valley CC also stole a base and had a sacrifice fly, while throwing out a pair of would-be base stealers defensively. “It was good for us to get outside and compete against another team,” Hall commented on the series, which marked MSUB’s first outdoor action since fall ball in October. “We are going to be really ready to go this weekend.” PITCHING STAFF COMPETES: Only 14 of the 25 runs that MSUB’s pitching staff allowed last week were earned, as four different arms that threw at least two innings allowed one or fewer earned runs. Veterans Matt Hape and Adam Cox had solid starts to their years, and reliever Bryon Baker tossed 2 2/3 perfect innings out of the bullpen. Senior Casey Merritt earned his first-ever GNAC Player of the Week award after reaching base in 9 of 14 plate appearances last week.

“I just went in there and threw strikes, and our left fielder Matt Dillon made a couple really good plays as well as our middle infielders,” Baker said. “It makes my job easy when they can do that.” Hape gave up five unearned runs on four hits in three innings, walking just one of the batters he faced. Cox had four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings in his first-ever start, allowing one earned run and just three hits. Sophomore Steen Fredrickson took a tough loss, despite striking out three and walking none and allowing just one earned run in 2 1/3 innings.


Defensively, the Yellowjackets committed seven errors in their first three games, which particularly hurt in the final two contests. Mines defeated MSUB 6-3 with three unearned runs in Game 2 last Friday, before grabbing a 9-5 win despite just two earned runs in the finale last Saturday. No. 10 Colorado Mesa University Mavericks Suplizio Field | Grand Junction, CO | Watch | Live Stats Friday, February 17 – 2:30 PM (9-Inning Game) Saturday, February 18 – 12 PM (9-Inning/7-Inning Doubleheader) Sunday, February 19 – 12 PM (9-Inning Game) 2017 Record: 3-1 Head Coach: Chris Hanks, 19th Season 2016 Record: 43-13, 29-7 RMAC The Mavericks started their season by taking 3 of 4 from No. 16 Dixie State University last week, racking up 32 runs in the four-game series. CMU is coming off an RMAC title in 2016, and won the RMAC tournament before losing its first two games in the NCAA D2 regionals. Senior catcher Kyle Serrano is the top returner to the squad offensively, after hitting .345 with five home runs and 34 RBIs a season ago. He picked up where he left off with a 10-for-18 weekend to start 2017, including his first home run and five RBIs last week. Sophomore outfielder Bligh Madris figures to have a breakout season after just 27 at-bats in 2016, as he went 9-for-19 with five doubles last week against the Trailblazers. Zach McLeod is another experienced infield veteran, who got off to a 7-for-17 start last week at the plate. On the mound as a freshman last year, JR McDermott earned RMAC Freshman and Pitcher of the Year, before being tabbed as an All-American. He held a 0.92 ERA in 68 1/3 innings pitched, striking out 77 batters and walking just 22 in 11 appearances. He posted a perfect 7-0 record last year, and struck out five batters in five innings in his first outing of 2017 last week. The Mavericks figure to roll out a relatively fresh rotation aside from McDermott, with returners Kyle Leahy and Jarrett Bott, and newcomer Chris Ramirez each allowing one run in three or more innings pitched last week. The Series: MSUB is 1-3 all-time against CMU, with the only prior meeting between the teams being a four-game series in 2013 in Grand Junction. Last Time Out: The ‘Jackets snagged a 5-2 win in Game 1 four years ago, before losses of 12-2, 6-2, and 14-12.

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Yellowjacket baseball set for 4 games at No. 10 Colorado Mesa