April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th not unlucky for Baseball Bears

Carl Iwasaki Postgame Audio | Jess Amedee Postgame Audio

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY – From the scores in the doubleheader against NYIT on Friday, one might think the offense was the MVP, but the starting pitching earned the most praise by Head Coach Carl Iwasaki.

NC outscored NYIT 25-2 and ended up playing 14 innings instead of 16 innings of scheduled baseball due to the 10-run Great West Conference rule in the second contest. Northern Colorado (12-17, 3-3 GWC) defeated NYIT (2-23, 0-6 GWC) won the two games, 15-2 and 10-0, respectively. Tomorrow, the two teams are scheduled for a doubleheader beginning at noon.

In game one, freshman Jess Amedee struck out the first six visiting Bears he faced and ended with seven, just one shy of his career-high of eight from earlier this season against Southern Utah.  He threw 5.0 innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits to improve to 4-1 on the year. Freshman Jake Johnson relieved him, giving up only one hit over the final two frames with a career-best three strikeouts and no walks.

In game two, sophomore Chris Hammer was stellar, surrendering just four hits, striking out six and walking not a single batter. Hammer tied his career-high in strikeouts from his stellar performance at Nebraska as a freshman (March 22).

"I will say first off, Jess Amedee, five innings complete and did a great job of just pounding the zone," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki. "We changed Jake Johnson and his ball is moving a lot. I will give the compliments to our pitching coach RD Spiehs for making that switch and he's throwing strikes and he's throwing with better velocity. Game two, Hammer, nothing more, nothing said. That's who he is and we saw glimpses of that last year. He's got the tools in the toolbox and we're encouraged to see where he's at."

The offense wasn't too shabby either, though, as they hit .431 for the two games, led by the freshmen Hawai'in duo of Jensen Park, who was 6-for-8 with one triple and Ryan Yamane, who was 4-for-8 including a walk-off triple to end the second game in a run-rule victory. Yamane also had five RBI in the two games, while both seniors Adrian Schenk and Casey Coy each had four.

"We need to be good in the Great West Conference right now," said Iwasaki. It's time to be good and we want to make a run in the conference. We want to win the last game of the season and that's on May 27."

Game One Recap
The Bears didn't waste any time with the bats in the bottom half of the first inning as all nine hitters took a turn at the plate. Yamane started things off with a single and scored on a triple off the right-centerfield wall by Coy. Senior Adam Hilker reached on an error, Schenk followed with a single and Park hit a sacrifice fly to right field. A Bryan Tibbitts single plated the fourth run of the inning.

NYIT scored one in the top of the second, but the Bears answered with two of their own, thanks in part to a triple by Park and two NYIT errors.

Again, NYIT scored one run, but the Bears got right back to work, scoring four in the third. Tibbitts singled up the middle for his second hit of the game and freshman Taylor Anderson came in to pinch run for him. Derek Baum was hit by a pitch and then both Yamane and Coy drew walks for one run. Hilker singled to left to score one and Schenk followed with a single to plate two more, but Hilker was thrown out trying to stretch it from first base to third.

In top of fourth, both Coy and Baum went sprinting for a foul ball. Coy caught the ball, but the pair collided and Baum had to be removed from the game. It was the second out of the inning and Amedee loaded the bases, but calmed down and got out of the frame without any damage.

The Bears tacked on three more for the 13-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Anderson drew a walk to begin the inning, Dylan Banach singled, Yamane was hit by a pitch and Coy doubled to deep left center to score two. The final run of the inning came home on a sacrifice fly by Hilker.

The final two runs of the game were scored in the fifth. Park and Crudo each singled, Anderson got hit and Eric Ferguson, who came into the game defensively in the top of the inning, singled to right field to score Park, while Crudo came home on a ground out by Yamane.

Game Two Recap
The beginning of the second game couldn't have been any different from the first as there was no scoring for either team in the fifth inning and thanks to two double plays by the Bears defense, Hammer faced the minimum three in each of the first four frames.

Northern Colorado scored first in the bottom of the sixth inning with four runs on four hits. Park started things off with a single to left-centerfield and was sacrificed to second on a great bunt by Crudo. Schenk singled through the right side, scoring Park and he was plated one batter later when Anderson doubled to left field. Lambert drew a walk and Yamane hit his first of back-to-back triples to clear the bases and give the team a 4-0 edge.

The offense then got busy in the seventh, scoring the six for the run-rule victory, the first for the Bears in Great West Conference season since a 17-6 win over North Dakota on May 6, 2011.

Hilker and Park each singled to lead off and Crudo was walked to load the bases. An error by NYIT helped Anderson reach first and Lambert doubled to right-centerfield for two RBI. In a pinch-hitting role, Brooks Schneider singled down the right-field line and then Ferguson came in to run for him. Yamane then hit the second triple of his career, going to right-center to clear the bases and give the Bears their second win of the day.