Baseball continues dominance with second-straight Sunday run-rule game
GREELEY, Colo. – For the second straight Sunday, the Northern Colorado baseball team put up a dominant performance, run-ruling the opponent. The Bears (16-27, 12-4 Great West) defeated NJIT (11-29, 4-12 GWC) 12-2 for the series sweep.
Northern Colorado has now won eight straight in Great West Conference play and nine of its last 10 games on the year to sit alone in second place in the standings, behind Utah Valley (11-1).
Senior Chris Carlberg pitched a complete-game, the first of his career for the Bears. He allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits, with no walks. He also tied his career-high with five strikeouts, knotting his effort from last weekend against Texas-Pan American. It is the sixth complete game thrown by a Bears pitcher this season.
"Chris is feeling it," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki. "He's one of these senior's who's taking it moment-by-moment. He knows his time is coming to an end and he wants to help the team however he can."
The Bears scored their 12 runs on 15 hits with four NJIT errors. The 15 hits came from five different players as senior second baseman T.J. Berge and freshman catcher Matt Jones each had four, junior left fielder Jarod Berggren had three and junior centerfielder and junior designated hitter Casey Coy each had two. Berggren also led all players with five RBI.
Jones was missing just the home run for the cycle, as he singled in both the second and fifth innings, tripled in the third and doubled in the sixth. Since moving into the starting lineup nine games ago, Jones is hitting .500 and is second on the team with 10 runs scored.
"I couldn't be more pleased with how Jones is playing," said Iwasaki. "He's putting the ball in play, he's swinging with confidence and he's commanding and controlling the pitchers."
With his four hits, Berge moved into fifth on the Northern Colorado career charts with 198 career base knocks, passing Steve Thomas (1987-90) who had 195 in his time.
"T.J. is such a quality individual," said Iwasaki. "He's a great leader out there and he's getting the job done. I think people tend to overlook T.J. and Adam (Hilker) because they just get the job done every day. They go out there and make the routine plays, they're getting on base and they play hard all the time and that's what this game is all about."
Berge singled with two outs in the first inning and Berggren reached on a throwing error by the pitcher, which allowed Berge to score.
The Bears batted around in the second and scored four for the 5-0 lead. Coy led off with a double to center and Jones singled between the short stop and third baseman. Crudo then hit a shot down the third base line, but the third baseman threw the ball past second, plating Coy and moving Jones to third. Valenzuela was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Hilker hit a long fly to center for a sacrifice fly. Fanning singled and Berggren doubled for the four runs.
NC added two more in the third. Coy singled and scored on a triple by Jones, who scampered home on a sacrifice fly to center by Crudo.
The Highlanders scored one run in the fifth inning. They hit back-to-back singles to start the inning before Carlberg retired the next three, but Bryan Bleakley scored on a groundout by John Bouck.
In the sixth, Fanning laid down a perfect bunt for a single down the third base line and a throwing error by the pitcher, Prestano, put Fanning on third. Berge followed with a single back to the pitcher and Berggren doubled again to centerfield. A Jones double two batters later scored Berggren for the 10-1 lead.
Two errors and a single gave the Highlanders one run back in the top of the seventh, but the Bears came back swinging in their half of the inning. With two outs, Fanning drew the only walk of the day, Berge singled through the right side and Berggren tripled for two runs and the run rule was enforced, giving NC the 12-2 win.
The Bears turn their attention to final examinations this week. They return to the field on Friday, hosting North Dakota for a four-game series. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3:00 pm.