Baseball throws first shutout as Bears win both
GREELEY, Colo. – In two fast-paced baseball games, the Northern Colorado Bears defeated the NJIT Highlanders, 6-4 and 4-0 at Jackson Field on Saturday afternoon. Both contests lasted under two hours as the Bears have now won seven straight in conference play and eight of their last nine overall.
In the second game, the Bears (15-27, 11-4 Great West) pitched their first shutout of the season as senior right-hander Joe Sawicki (3-6) threw seven scoreless and senior Brendan Hall and junior Cameron Tallman pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
"He's always wanting to find out how good he can be," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki. "That's Joe Sawicki. Our defense is also played well and when you put pitching and defense together, we're in every game – and that's our goal."
Junior Jarod Berggren had an amazing day, going 6-for-7 at the plate with four RBI and two runs scored. The left fielder is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak and continued to expand on his Northern Colorado career triples record as he now has 14.
"Jarod's confident," said Iwasaki. "And he's playing his best baseball. I heard coming in this was the type of player he is and now I'm getting to see it. It's a good team mix right now and we'll take wins like this. Adam (Hilker) is a heck of a Division I college shortstop. He makes every routine play and even makes great plays look routine."
Hilker went 2-for-6 at the plate on Saturday, but made a number of impressive plays in the field and stole his 11th bag of the season in the second game. Freshman catcher Matt Jones also went 3-for-4 in the twin-bill, scoring two runs with one RBI.
The teams conclude their season series on Sunday. First pitch has been moved up one hour and will now begin at 11:00 am.
Game One Recap
Senior Josh Boyer struck out a career-best six in his third start of the year. He threw four innings in a no decision, giving up four runs on six hits and walking two. Freshman Chris Hammer pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in his second win (2-4). Junior Nate Steinmetz pitched a perfect seventh inning for his second save in 2011.
Berggren went 3-for-3 in the game with three RBI and one run scored. Senior T.J. Berge also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run scored.
Jones walked, Hilker singled, junior Bret Fanning drew a walk after going in the hole 0-2 and Berge singled just past the third baseman to score the first run of the game in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Berggren singled up the middle to plate two more for the 3-0 lead.
NJIT broke onto the scoreboard with one in the fourth, but the Bears immediately answered with one of their own in the bottom of the inning. Junior Tony Crudo singled to right-center and Jones executed the hit-and-run perfectly driving the ball through the gap on the right side. The right fielder mishandled the ball, allowing Crudo to score from first for the 4-1 score.
In the top of the fifth, Boyer walked the leadoff batter. Teddy Bickert went to first on a pitch that Jones and Bickert thought hit him. The pitch was also in the dirt and went to the backstop and Matt Tomczyk went to third. The umpires conferred and called Bickert back to the plate, saying it didn't hit him. He ended up doubling to left center to score Tomczyk. A Matt Weckerle single knocked Boyer out of the game. Hammer gave up one single and retired the other three he faced for three runs in the inning and a tie score, 4-4.
Berge singled and Berggren tripled to centerfield to give the lead back to the Bears. Junior Casey Coy followed with a single back up the middle to score Berggren for the 6-4 final score. In the seventh, Steinmetz retired the side in order for his second save of the year.
Game Two Recap
Sawicki continued to dominate in Great West Conference play, allowing just two hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out six. He is now 10-0 lifetime in conference action with an astounding 1.66 ERA.
Hall's appearance in the eighth inning gives him 21 on the year, which is now tied for fifth on the Northern Colorado single-season lists and puts him within five of knotting the all-time record of 26 from Sean Peery in 2006. Tallman's ninth inning also gives him 18 appearances in 2011 to move into a tie for 14th all-time and he is also now tied for 10th on the career charts with 46 appearances.
Highlander designated hitter Anthony Caiola was the only player to do anything against Bear's pitching in the nightcap as he had three of the team's four hits, going 3-for-3 in the game and he also got hit once. He tied Berggren for game-high honors in hits with three each, while Jones also went 2-for-2 and drew the only walk of the day from Tripp Davis, who pitched a good game as well. He allowed four runs, two earned, on eight hits with six strikeouts, lowering his season ERA under three to 2.90.
With one out in the second, Berggren singled and scored on a double down the right field line by Crudo. On the play, Berggren had stopped at third and Crudo was on second, but both advanced 90 feet when the right fielder missed his cutoff man on the throw in.
In the third, the Bears tacked on one more run when Hilker led off with a triple over the centerfielder's head and came home on a Fanning groundout.
Fanning led off the eighth with a triple down the right field line and scored when Berggren singled to right for the team's four runs.