Dixie State's Kyle Hoffman (2), Dixie State University vs. Montana State University Billings, Baseball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 10, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
ST. GEORGE – For the second-straight day, No. 15 Dixie State posted a split of a twin bill against Montana State Billings and Cal State San Bernardino Saturday at Bruce Hurst Field. The Trailblazers (3-2) could not overcome an early deficit in dropping their final game vs. MSUB, 14-11, before posting their third walk-off win of the young season in a 4-2 duel with CSUSB in the final game of the day.
As was the case in all three games in its series with MSUB, the Trailblazers spotted the Yellowjackets a big inning to fall into an early hole. This time it was a six-run fourth inning that broke open a scoreless game that left DSU needing to mount another possible comeback. MSUB DH Ryan Myers took the first pitch he saw from DSU starter Brayden Bonner in the frame high over the left field wall to spot his side a 1-0 lead. The Yellowjackets then loaded the bases with one out and plated two more runs before a three-run Conner Linebarger homer gave MSUB its six-run cushion.
After MSUB pushed across another run in the fifth, the Trailblazer bats came to life to the tune of four runs and five hits in the home half of the fifth to cut the deficit to 7-4. Drake Benner started the rally with a lead-off double and would score DSU’s first run on a Kyle Hoffman single. Jake Davison followed with another run-scoring hit three batters later and Jake Engel drove in two with a two-out safety to cap the rally.
The Yellowjackets came back with three more runs in the sixth to extend to a 10-4 advantage, but again the Trailblazers countered with another four-run frame in the home sixth to pull to within 10-8. Hoffman picked up his second and third RBI of the game with a one-out double and would later score on a wild pitch, while Logan Porter drove in a run on a groundout.
Myers struck again in the MSUB seventh with his second homer of the game, a two-run shot to center field, and the Yellowjackets tallied two more insurance runs in the ninth to push the lead to 14-8.
Those two late runs proved to be crucial as Dixie State mounted one more charge in its final at-bat as the Trailblazers got lead-off hits from Kade Urban and Benner, while Tyler Hollow reached on an MSUB error that brought home Urban to make a 14-9 game. Benner and Hollow would then score on consecutive wild pitches and DSU had the tying run on deck after a one-out Bryce Feist walk, but MSUB reliever Jalen Garcia induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
DSU collected 13 hits in the loss, two hits apiece from Hoffman, Feist, Engel and Benner.
In game two vs. CSUSB (0-3), the Coyotes opened the scoring with single runs in the third and fourth frames en route to a 2-0 lead. However, Dixie State would come back with two runs of its own in the home fourth when Brody Clifford drew a one-out walk ahead of Braxton Ipson, who connected for his first collegiate home run over the right field wall to draw DSU even at 2-2.
The game remained deadlocked until the bottom of the ninth when Gabe Taylor reached on a lead-off single and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Following a Feist fly out, Porter ended the game with a towering two-out, two-run home run to left field.
DSU outhit the Coyotes 8-6, with Taylor, Urban and Porter collecting two hits apiece. Taylor also started the game on the mound, scattering two runs and six hits over 5.2 innings with three strikeouts. Senior reliever Tanner Howell (W, 1-0) then picked up where Taylor left off as the righthander fired 3.1 innings of hitless relief with three punch outs to earn his first win of the season.
Dixie State will wrap up its marathon six-game, four-day homestand with one more date with Cal State San Bernardino Sunday at 12 noon.