Bitow's busy day can't help MSUB avoid sweep

2014-04-19T19:48:00Z 2014-04-19T23:34:04Z Bitow's busy day can't help MSUB avoid sweepBy JOE KUSEK jkusek@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Bret Bitow could have been excused if he paused before returning to the field between innings.

When you’re being moved around like a chess piece, it might take a few seconds to get pointed in the right direction.

Bitow started the game playing right field, was moved to third base and finished on the pitcher’s mound.

“I’ve played two positions during a game, never three,” Bitow said. “I go wherever I’m needed.”

The leadoff hitter also found time to hit a pair of home runs, his second and third of the season in the opener. Bitow hit a solo shot to left field in the third inning and added a two-run homer to left in the seventh. He also scored three runs.

“Hit ’em hard, I guess,” Bitow said of the home run pitches.

Brody Miller followed with his solo homer in the third.

Bitow’s team-first approach wasn’t enough as Saint Martin’s swept Montana State Billings 21-7 and 8-6 on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Dehler Park.

Bitow had three hits, including a double and scored two runs in the second game. Miller added two hits and three RBIs.

The Saints’ Zach Raczok homered and doubled twice in the first game, piling up eight RBIs.

Teammate Chandler Tracy, who homered twice in the opener, belted a grand slam in Saint Martin’s seven-run second inning in the nightcap.

Mounting injuries forced the Yellowjackets to, “Get the musical chairs going,” on Saturday, according to head coach Rob Bishop.

MSUB lost outfielder Colter Sternhagen to a shoulder injury in the first game of the season and senior first baseman Blake Loran suffered a broken leg Friday against the Saints. Loran, of Billings, missed all of last season because of a broken arm.

MSUB is also without pitchers David Swecker (torn labrum) and Tanner Watson (torn ligament). Kevin Toon, who started at first base, is nursing a hip injury.

Along with Bitow, Toon (1B/2B) and Brad Birch (3B/1B) played multiple positions in the first game.

The Yellowjackets used 13 position players and six pitchers in the opener.

It was Bitow who approached Bishop about pitching the final inning.

“I asked him. I wanted to finish it,” said the junior from Puyallup, Wash. “I didn’t want them to score any more runs.”

Powered by four home runs, the Saints scored two or more runs in seven of the nine innings. Tracy, Saint Martin’s designated hitter, also had a two-run double in the first inning and finished with four RBIs.

Bitow had pitched 1 2/3 innings in two appearances earlier this season. Relying primarily on his fastball, “I threw a slider a few times,” he said, Bitow faced four batters in the ninth inning. He did not allow a run.

“I wanted to challenge their hitters,” he added. “To make them work … not give them anything.

“You’ve just got to play the game. You can’t let what they’re doing change your game.”

MSUB continues its home stand with games against Central Washington next Friday and Saturday.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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