April 24, 2011

Baseball run-rules Broncs to complete sweep

Boxscore | NC Season Stats

GREELEY, Colo. – Baseball is like a puzzle and when the pieces are all put together, the result can be beautiful. That's what happened for the Northern Colorado baseball team over Easter weekend as they got great pitching and timely hitting with solid defense as the Bears swept a four-game series from Texas-Pan American, capping it with a 14-4 win on Sunday.

The Bears (12-26, 8-4 Great West) won their fifth-straight contest in convincing fashion, run-ruling the Broncs (16-17, 6-6 GWC) in the eighth inning for the series sweep. The Bears have now won nine straight against UTPA and are 16-3 all-time. The win came largely in part to a nine-run fifth inning, the biggest inning for the Bears since May 21, 2010 when NC scored 10 against Chicago State.

In the four game series, NC pitchers gave up just 13 runs and struck out 21, while walking just 10. On the flip side, the NC hitters combined for a .371 average with 35 runs, four home runs and 22 walks. The Bears defense also committed just two errors in the four contests.

"Timely hitting," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki. "We've been talking about that and pitching for quite a while now and it all came together this weekend. This was a great series for us and we're playing our best baseball of the season. Our guys are really hitting the ball where it's pitched and taking advantage of their opportunities, which is all we can ask of them."

On Sunday, junior Casey Coy started on the hill for the first time since April 3. He threw five innings, allowing just three runs on six hits for his first victory of the year (1-1). Coy also walked just one and struck out four. He also had a 2-for-3 day at the plate, helping his own cause by scoring three times.

Junior Adam Hilker led the team with four hits, going 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored, while junior Jarod Berggren continued to punish opponents, going 3-for-5 with five RBI – all in the fifth – with a run scored. Everyone in the lineup on Sunday scored at least once for the Bears and seven of the nine had a multiple hit day as the team's 14 runs came on 17 hits.

Junior Cameron Tallman picked up his third save of the year, pitching the final three innings. He struck out three and had one run score on four hits.

Texas-Pan American used five pitchers on the afternoon, with starter Jonathan Delgado getting the loss to move to 2-3 on the year.

UTPA scored first, getting one run on two hits in the second inning. The Bears answered with a pair in the third. Hilker and junior Bret Fanning hit back-to-back singles up the middle with one out. Senior T.J. Berge grounded out to the second baseman, but scored Hilker and Fanning came home on a single by junior Ben Packard.

The Broncs tied the score in the top of the fourth, but the Bears again answered with a pair in the bottom half of the inning. Coy and junior Tony Crudo both singled to start things and Coy scored on a sacrifice fly to left-center by senior Marcus Valenzuela. Hilker laced his second-straight single to plate Crudo and give the Bears a 4-2 lead.

UTPA cut the lead to one with one run in the fifth after a walk and double down the left field line, but the Bears exploded for nine runs in the fifth. Berggren had five RBI in the inning, hitting a three-run home run and a two-run single. Berge walked to begin the inning, Packard singled and Berggren blasted a shot over the left field fence. Coy and Crudo followed with singles, freshman Matt Jones walked and Valenzuela singled to plate two more. Hilker and Fanning added singles before Berge hit a sacrifice fly to left. Packard was hit by a pitch and Berggren singled between the short stop and third baseman for the nine runs in the inning and a 13-3 advantage.

The Broncs got one run back in the top of the sixth for the 13-4 score.

In the bottom of the eighth, Broncs' pitcher Doug Roth walked the bases loaded and Valenzuela singled to score Coy and give the Bears the run-rule victory.

Northern Colorado concludes its four-game series against Air Force on Tuesday at Jackson Field. The Bears are 1-2 against the Falcons this season and game time is scheduled for 3:00 pm.