April 29, 2012

Crooked innings lead baseball to Sunday win

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Multiple runs scored in four of the first five innings lifted the Northern Colorado Baseball team to an 11-3 win over North Dakota on Sunday to earn the series split in Great West Conference action.

The Bears (19-24, 9-7 Great West) scored two in the first, three in the second and two each in the third and fifth innings, as well as one run each in the eighth and ninth frames for the eight-run victory.

Everyone in the starting batting order reached base at least once and four batters had multi-hit afternoons in the win over UND (9-30, 3-13 Great West). Senior Adrian Schenk led the game, going 4-for-6 with two RBI, while freshman Ryan Yamane was 3-for-5 with three RBI. Fellow freshman Eric Ferguson scored a team-best three runs.

Senior Nate Steinmetz (3-5) got the win, pitching 6.2 innings, allowing no earned runs (three total) on five hits. He walked one and struck out five. Senior Cameron Tallman got one out on one pitch in the game, while Kevin Willman and Jake Johnson each threw one scoreless inning.

The Bears' 11 runs came on 15 hits and there were five UND errors, while North Dakota scored three runs on six hits with three NC errors on a drizzly day at Kraft Field.

For the third-straight game, the Bears jumped out to the early lead in the top of the first inning, scoring two for the second consecutive contest.

Yamane started the game with a single to center and promptly moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt by senior Casey Coy. Sophomore Colby Harrison doubled down the right field line to plate the first run of the game. Schenk singled to right to score Harrison and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Senior Tony Crudo followed with a single to center to put runners on the corners, but the two were stranded with the 2-0 lead.

Steinmetz hit a batter in the first frame, but it was the only base runner he allowed, getting a groundout, strikeout and flyout to keep the advantage with the Bears.

Ferguson led off the second inning with a double down the right field line and advanced to third on a groundout off the bat of junior Derek Baum. Yamane got his second-straight hit of the game, this one a single to left to score Ferguson. Coy and senior Adam Hilker also singled to score Yamane and Hilker swiped second base for his team-leading sixth stolen base of the year. Schenk's single to second scored Coy and Schenk also stole second, his fifth of the year. With the three runs in the frame, the Bears stretched the lead to 5-0.

UND scored an unearned run in its half of the second. Sam Alt singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by Steinmetz then scored on a groundout to first base to make the score 5-1.

Freshman Jensen Park started the third with a hustle down the first base line, forcing a throwing error by the third baseman. Ferguson tried to sacrifice Park over, but a second throwing error by Kyle Bolander at third put the first two hitters on in the inning. Baum advanced the runners on a groundout and Yamane cleared the bases with a double down the right field line for the 7-1 lead.

Hilker kept the pressure on, leading off the fourth with a single to right center and advancing to second on a wild pitch, but the Bears went scoreless for the first time all day. Steinmetz retired UND in order though to get his offense back out there immediately.

Ferguson again reached to start a frame, this time on the third error of the game by the third baseman. Baum was down in the count 0-2, but took a ball off his shoulder to reach first. Coy drew a walk to load the bases with one out and UND went to the bullpen, replacing Campbell with Kevin Auth. Harrison Lambert pinch hit for Harrison and walked for an RBI. A passed ball with Schenk at the plate scored Baum to add two more to the scoreboard for a 9-1 advantage.

Steinmetz continued to deal from the hill, allowing just one hit in the bottom of the fifth inning to face just four batters. He again faced just four batters in the sixth, walking one, but getting the final out with his fourth strikeout of the game.

Two UND runs scored in the seventh when the Bears went to the pen to bring in Tallman. He threw one pitch and got Tyler Follis to fly out to centerfield for the 9-3 tally.

With one out in the eighth, Schenk doubled to right field and Crudo followed with a four pitch walk. Park hit an infield single to short to load the bases. Junior Dylan Banach hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Schenk for the 10-3 lead.

Coy was hit in the middle of his back with one out in the ninth and he advanced to second on a groundout by junior Brooks Schneider. A two-base error off the bat of Hilker plated Coy and Schenk followed with his fourth hit of the day to center for the 11-3 advantage.

Jake Johnson came in and retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth for the split in the series after a long road trip.

The Bears will not have any mid-week games this week due to final examinations. They begin a four-game series with Chicago State on Friday at 3 pm at Jackson Field.