April 19, 2011

Berggren bomb gives Bears win over Falcons

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USAFA, Colo. – A little sunshine, a little rain, a little hail and a lot of wind was what the Northern Colorado baseball team battled along with the Air Force Academy on Tuesday afternoon. In an exciting come-from-behind fashion, the Bears put three on the scoreboard in the ninth to win 6-5.

Trailing 5-3 entering the top of the ninth inning, junior Bret Fanning singled, senior T.J. Berge doubled and junior Jarod Berggren hit his second home run of the year to lift the Bears (8-26) past the Falcons (14-23) for the first win in the series this year.

The top five in the batting order all had multiple hits, led by Berggren and junior designated hitter Ben Packard with three each as the team scattered 14 throughout the day. The Bears also played a clean game defensively with no errors. Air Force scored its five runs on 12 hits and committed two errors.

"This was a good team win," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki. "I can't say enough about Jarod Berggren's at bat. That was a case of trusting your skills to put the ball in play and he hit the ball over the fence. Even though this was a mid-week game, it's important. I think this will be the game we look back on our season and say this is the game that jump started our season."

Senior Brendan Hall (1-0) got his first win of the season on the mound, pitching 2.2 frames of shut out baseball. He struck out three and did not allow a hit in seven batters faced. Junior Cameron Tallman tallied his second save of the year, retiring the side in order in the ninth.

"We got quality middle relief from Brendan Hall," said Iwasaki. "He willed the win today and I think Tallman has really stepped up lately. This was our first come-from-behind win this year and that's what you have to do to be a quality team down the stretch."

In the ninth, Berge hit the 44th double of his career, moving him into a tie for third on the all-time Northern Colorado charts with John Ray (2004-07). Berge is now 13 shy of knotting the career mark of 57 by Kevin Sandberg (2006-09).

Senior Chris Carlberg was the starting pitcher, giving up two runs on six hits through three innings. He struck out one and didn't walk a batter. Chris Hammer, Josh Tinnon and Michael Wilkes also saw work on the hill.

Stephen Colangelo (0-2) was the losing pitcher for the Falcons, throwing the final 1.2 innings.

Junior Adam Hilker and Fanning started the game with back-to-back doubles. Hilker's hit the deep part of the field in left center, for his 100th career hit, while Fanning's bounced just inside the right field line before clearing the short fence in foul ground. Berge and Packard followed with singles up the middle and Berge scored on a double play for the early 3-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the first with a runner on second, the hail came down causing a four-minute delay in the action. Just as the mound was covered, the weather broke and play resumed in the sunshine. The Falcons scored one run on two hits for the 3-1 tally.

The Bears had two hits each in the second and third innings, but were unable to push any across. Air Force scored one run each in the third and fourth to knot the score and took the lead in the bottom of the fifth with two runs on three hits for the 5-3 lead.

In the top of the ninth, Fanning singled, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on a Berge double down the right field line. Berggren fouled off five straight before hitting a home run over the right field fence on a 1-2 count to regain the lead, 6-5.

Northern Colorado hosts Texas-Pan American in the team's home Great West Conference opener. The series begins on Friday at 3:00 pm, continues on Saturday with a doubleheader starting at 11:00 am and concludes on Sunday with first pitch at noon.