No. 15/19 Dixie State opened the 2018 regular season with a thrilling 12-11 walk-off victory over Montana State Billings in a slugfest Thursday night at Bruce Hurst Field.
The Trailblazers (1-0) knew they were in a battle from the get-go as MSUB (0-1) bolted out to a quick 4-0 first-inning lead. Yellowjacket leadoff hitter Kade Hall got the rally started with a towering home run to straight-away center field on the second pitch of the game. MSUB then touched up DSU starter Aaron Pope (ND) for three more runs on consecutive two-out hits en route to the early cushion.
Dixie State countered with four runs of its own in its first at-bats of the year to knot the game at 4-4. Jagun Leavitt and Kyle Hoffman drew leadoff walks to set the table for Logan Porter, and last year’s team RBI leader picked up right where he left off as he drove in DSU’s first run with a double to right-center. MSUB starter Jared Winslow (ND) balked home Hoffman carrying DSU’s second run, and Jake Davison singled home Porter to draw the Trailblazers to within 4-3. DSU then tied the game one batter later when Gabe Taylor legged out an infield single, but the throw got by the MSUB first baseman to allow Davison to score from first.
Montana State Billings came right back with three more runs in the second to go back on top, 7-4, but DSU answered with single runs in the second and third frames before erupting for four runs in the fourth to take its first lead of the game at 10-7. The Trailblazers scored three of those four runs without a hit, with the first run coming thanks to two walks and two hit batters to lead off the frame. Davison plated the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to center, and Taylor followed with a single to left field. Tyler Hollow then lined out to left to bring home DSU’s 10th run of the game and spot his side a three-run advantage.
Trailing 11-9 in the ninth, MSUB loaded the bases with one out on two hit batters and a walk issued by DSU reliever Tyler Rosas (W, 1-0). Pinch-hitter Hayden Humphrey then tied the game with a two-run single, however, Rosas managed to limit the damage as he induced a groundout and pop out in the infield to preserve the tie.
In the DSU ninth, Leavitt drew a leadoff walk and advanced around to third thanks to a pair of Carson Woolery (L, 0-1) wild pitches. Hoffman then ended the game one pitch later as he drove the 2-2 Woolery offering through the left side to drive home Leavitt.
Dixie State racked up 10 hits, including a 3-for-4 effort for Taylor in his Trailblazer debut, while Jake Engel collected an RBI double in the third as part of a 2-for-4 effort with two runs scored. The DSU bullpen limited MSUB to four runs and six hits in the final seven innings to pick up Pope, who surrendered seven runs and eight hits in two innings in his first start since the 2016 season.
Hall finished a triple shy of the cycle as he went 3-for-6 with two RBIs to lead MSUB, which tallied 14 safeties on the night.
Dixie State squares off with the Yellowjackets again Friday at 3 p.m., followed by a matchup vs. Cal State San Bernardino at 6:30 p.m.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixieathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.