April 24, 2012

Baseball falls in 11-inning affair at Air Force

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

USAF ACADEMY, Colo. – The Air Force Falcons fought back after the Northern Colorado baseball team took a 9-6 lead in the eighth inning to win 10-9 in 11 frames on Tuesday afternoon.

The game is the ninth extra inning game contested between the two clubs in 153 games and the third to go to 11 innings. The Bears won the previous two 6-5 in 1962 and 7-6 in 1978.

Northern Colorado's nine runs came on 15 hits with one Air Force error. Senior Tony Crudo and junior Harrison Lambert each had three hits and two RBI to lead the team, while freshmen Taylor Anderson, Jensen Park and J.T. Leidholt each had two hits. Six of the 15 hits also went for extra bases.

Air Force had 10 runs on 21 hits and was aided by three Bear errors. Designated hitter Seth Kline led the Falcons with a 4-for-5 day, including two RBI and two runs scored.

Junior Jake Johnson pitched the first four innings for NC, allowing just one earned run (four total) on seven hits. He didn't walk or strike out a batter. Sophomore Michael Wilkes threw the next two frames, surrendering one earned run (two total) on three hits with one strikeout. Junior Dan Talley faced three batters in 0.1 inning, giving up two hits.

Sophomore Josh Tinnon continued to throw well, striking out one and getting the other hitter he faced to line out.

Senior Casey Coy, who played first base the first seven innings, went to the hill in the eighth and pitched 1.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and struck out one. He returned to first after sophomore Kevin Willman (0-2) took over on the mound. Willman allowed just one run, which unfortunately was the winning run, on four hits and struck out one in 2.1 innings of work.

Jack Hourin (1-2), who pitched the final three innings for the Falcons was credited with the win.

Air Force scored one in the first and three in the fourth to take a 4-0 advantage.

The Bears came roaring back with five runs in the fifth. Crudo doubled down the left field line to start the inning, Lambert followed with a single and Leidholt was hit by a pitch. All three moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Freshman Ryan Yamane drew a walk and scored on a bases-clearing double by Anderson. Senior Adam Hilker singled to center and Yamane scored on a groundout by senior Adrian Schenk.

The Falcons regained the lead with two in the sixth for a 6-5 mark on the scoreboard.

NC hung another crooked number in the eighth with four for a 9-6 lead. Once again, Crudo got things going with a leadoff single up the middle. Lambert and Leidholt each followed with a single of their own and two runs scored on a double to right-center by Yamane, who scored the fourth run of the frame on a passed ball.

In the bottom of the ninth, a pair of home runs off the Falcons bat knotted the score at 9-9 to force extra innings.

Kevin Willman put down a good bunt in his first career at bat, but the first baseman made a great throw over to second to get the lead runner and the Bears were unable to score in the 10th. Air Force had three singles in the bottom of the 11th for the win.

The two teams meet again tomorrow, but at Jackson Field. Game time is set for 3 pm.