April 22, 2012

Baseball gets walk-off win for series split

Carl Iwasaki Audio | Josh Tinnon Audio | Harrison Lambert Audio

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY – A couple of heads up defensive plays helped lead Northern Colorado Baseball to a series split against Houston Baptist with a 6-5 win on Sunday at Jackson Field.

In the seventh inning with the Bears (16-21, 7-5 Great West) leading 5-3, senior Adrian Schenk made a great throw from right-center back to second base, where fellow senior Adam Hilker tagged Curtis Jones, who overslid the bag.

The other was when sophomore pitcher Josh Tinnon (1-1) fielded a bunt off the bat of Asai Adame and promptly scooped the ball to senior Tony Crudo at third in the top of the ninth to tag out Jones, who doubled to lead off the inning to keep the score knotted at 5-5.

"Baseball is a game of chess and that's a play we have to make," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki of Tinnon's scoop. "That's a play we practice 200 times in the fall and 250 times in the winter indoors and outdoors in the spring. It's routine. To the fans it was like 'holy cow that was pretty darn good,' but for us that's routine. That's a play we have to make at the right time and we made it and if we don't we trail with one swing of the bat and then we have to play down one run."

Those two plays, along with three straight singles in the ninth by Hilker, Schenk and freshman Bryan Tibbitts, who was pinch hitting, gave the Bears their second win of the weekend for a split over the Huskies (15-22, 7-5 Great West) and keep the two teams tied in the conference standings.

"Bryan Tibbitts, he's a pure hitter," said Iwasaki. "He's a left (handed hitter) on right (handed pitching) matchup, that makes sense, number one and he's got fast hands. He puts barrels on baseballs whether it's left-left or left-right, so I liked the matchup and he's a pretty confident hitter. He eats, sleeps and dreams that opportunity."

Houston Baptist scored its five runs on 14 hits, while Northern Colorado had six runs on 12 hits and neither team committed an error.

Senior Joe Willman threw seven innings in a no decision, allowing five runs on 12 hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Fellow senior Cameron Tallman pitched one-third of an inning, walking one and giving up one hit, while Tinnon threw the final 1.2 innings, surrendering just one hit with one strikeout in six batters faced.

The Huskies scored one run in the first inning as Josh Foust, who reached via walk, scored on a triple by Jake Gonzalez.

The Bears evened the score in their half of the first also taking advantage of a walk. Freshman Ryan Yamane saw four straight balls to start the game, moved to second on single by Coy and to third by a sacrifice bunt by Hilker, then scored on a single by sophomore Colby Harrison.

The Huskies regained the lead in the top of the fourth with one run, but the Bears immediately knotted the game in their half of the frame.

Freshman Eric Ferguson started things off with a single to right and moved up 90 feet on a bunt by junior Dylan Banach. He scored two batters later when Coy doubled down the left field line.

The Bears took their first lead of the game in the fifth with three runs. Schenk singled, stole second base and scored on a single into right field by Crudo. Sophomore catcher Harrison Lambert then hit his first home run of the season for a three-run inning and a 5-2 advantage.

The Huskies chipped away, scoring one in the sixth and two in the eighth to tie the score at 5-5 before the Bears strung together three-straight singles in the bottom of the ninth for the walk off victory.

Northern Colorado travels to Air Force on Tuesday and then the Falcons come to Jackson Field on Wednesday. Both games are slated for 3 pm.