April 25, 2012

Bears best Falcons in another close battle on the diamond

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY – Solid defense in the ninth inning, along with timely hitting throughout the game lifted the Northern Colorado baseball team to a 7-6 win over the Air Force Academy on Wednesday afternoon at Jackson Field.

Air Force had runners on first and second with no outs when sophomore catcher Harrison Lambert noticed Seth Kline had taken a big lead off second base and threw down after a strike was thrown by senior pitcher Nate Steinmetz and picked him off. The Falcons made a change with one strike, pinch hitting Casey Gibson, who hit into a 4-6-3 double play to give the Bears the win.

"That's what we have to do for the rest of the season," stated Iwasaki. "Play plus defense. On a day like today when we're pitching our secondary, our middle guys with ERA's a little higher than our starters and (Jess) Amedee, we have to play flawless defense. We cannot give up extra outs or unearned runs like we did last night."

Steinmetz earned his first save of the year, allowing two hits in 1.1 innings, while junior Dan Talley picked up his second victory to improve to 2-1. Talley threw 2.2 frames, giving up one run on three hits, while walking one and striking out one.

Freshman Eian Raeber started on the hill for the Bears, going 3.1 innings. He allowed five runs on eight hits with no walks and one strikeout, while senior Cameron Tallman threw the next 1.2 innings, surrendering just two hits and he walked one.

Sophomore Colby Harrison hit two triples in the contest with two runs scored and two RBI. He is the third player this season to hit a pair of three-baggers in a game (Adrian Schenk and Ryan Yamane) and the 14th in school history.

"Colby Harrison – how about that kid," said Iwasaki. "Stepping into two baseballs and swinging like he knows how to swing. He's feeling it."

Lambert also went 3-for-4 with a team-best three RBI and one run scored. Both times Harrison tripled, Lambert was able to drive him in. Senior Tony Crudo and Yamane also each had two base knocks with Crudo hitting the game winner in the seventh.

The Bears seven runs came on 13 hits, while the Falcons had six runs on 15 hits and neither team committed an error.

"We're not a home run hitting ball club, I think we have eight so I'm not working on that percentage," said Iwasaki. "We are a situational hitting team. The glaring opportunity we took advantage and the thing I talked to the team about on how we're going to be successful is two out RBI."

Just like Tuesday, the Falcons struck first, this time scoring two in the first and one in the second for the 3-0 advantage.

The Bears scored three in the bottom of the second to knot the score at 3-3. Crudo continued to see the ball well, drawing a walk to start off the inning and he scored when sophomore Colby Harrison tripled to right-center.

Hilker, Schenk and Crudo each singled to lead off the third. A groundout by Harrison and a single by Lambert plated two for the 5-3 lead.

The Falcons re-tied the score at 5-5 in the top of the fourth with a pair of runs.

In the bottom of the sixth, Harrison hit his second triple of the game and scored on a single to left field by Lambert to give the Bears a 6-5 lead. The Falcons answered immediately with one run in the top of the seventh for the third tie of the game, this one at 6-6.

Again the Bears had an answer, scoring one. Yamane led things off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Moseley and moved up 90 feet on a ground out by Hilker. Yamane scored on a single off the bat of Crudo for a 7-6 score.

"Good for Tony Crudo," said Iwasaki. "I'm real proud of him. I pinch hit for him on Sunday with Bryan Tibbitts just because it's a left on right matchup and I told him on Monday morning he would be rewarded. Good things happen to good people. He came up with the game winning RBI in a great at bat."

The Bears return to Great West Conference action, starting a four-game series at North Dakota on Friday. The team next plays at home against Chicago State on May 4.