May 4, 2012

Baseball run rules Chicago State in series opener

Jake Johnson Post-Game Audio | Ryan Yamane Post-Game Audio | Carl Iwasaki Post-Game Audio

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY – The Northern Colorado baseball team scored 17 runs in the fifth through seventh innings to come from a five-run deficit to run-rule Chicago State, 19-9 on Friday afternoon at Jackson Field.

The Bears (20-24, 10-7 Great West) trailed 7-2 after four innings, but scored three in the fifth, six in the sixth and eight in the seventh to improve to a perfect 8-0 all-time against the Cougars (9-31, 5-12 Great West).

"We stress all along, just stay with the approach, stay calm," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki. "We knew when they got to seven runs and a five-run lead, we knew it would be close. We just need to get the next guy up and that's what the dugout was preaching. Nobody was panicking, nobody was tightening up. (Freshman Ryan) Yamane started the big inning off for us and came through from there.

Northern Colorado scored its 19 runs on 19 hits with two CSU errors, while Chicago State had nine runs on 13 hits with three Bears miscues.

It was the second time this season the Bears rallied from five runs down to win. The last time was on March 25 when they were down 5-0 against South Dakota State and fought back to win 15-13.

Senior first baseman Casey Coy went 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored and three RBI. He also walked twice, getting on base all five plate appearances. Sophomore Colby Harrison continued his stellar streak, going 3-for-4 in the game, while five other players had two hits each.

Freshman Jess Amedee started on the hill, throwing 3.1 innings, allowing six earned runs (seven total) on nine hits. He walked two and struck out two. Junior Jake Johnson (1-1) pitched the final 3.2 frames, allowing just two earned runs on four hits and he walked one.

"Jake Johnson did a great job," said Iwasaki. "He came in and did what he had to do. He came in and put a stop, or a slow down on the approach. These guys are a good hitting ballclub – that (Albert) Carpen in the one spot, he's got a great eye, so we have to slow them down. They've had a heck of an April so we're seeing a team that's on the rise right now."

Of the 19 hits, three were triples, one each by Yamane, Jensen Park and Tony Crudo to bring the team single-season total to 30, breaking the previous mark of 28 from 1978. The Bears also had three doubles in the contest, one each by Harrison, Harrison Lambert and Ben Packard – who made his first appearance since March 10.

"The young guys, I told them they need to step up," Iwasaki stated. "This is their time, this is the opportunity in the last third of the season. This is when everybody has to go – it's not just our leaders, it's got to be our young guys in Colby, and Yamane and Park today."

Five walks in the first inning, two by Bears pitching and three by Cougars pitching made for a long first inning (33 minutes) and at the end of it, Chicago State had the early 2-0 lead.

Lambert was hit in the middle of the back by a pitch to start the second after the Bears kept the Cougars off the scoreboard in the top of the inning. Crudo also walked, while Yamane and Coy followed with singles back up the middle to knot the score at 2-2.

Chicago State scored three in the third and two in the fourth to grab a 7-2 lead.

Yamane led off the bottom of the fifth with the team's 28th triple of the season, tying the 1978 team for the single-season record. He scored on a balk by Dylan Sterrett.

"He's our guy, he's our spark plug, that's why he's our one-hole hitter," said Iwasaki. "He gets on base and we go from there. We rely on that. He's {43) games into his college career and he's got a long way to go, he's getting better every game and it's going to take guys like Yamane for us to get it done."

Coy walked and Harrison doubled to left center. After a Cougar pitching change, CSU managed two outs before Park hit the second triple of the inning to break the all-time team mark and give the team three runs to close the gap to 7-5.

The Bears batted around in both the sixth and seventh innings and ended the game in a run-rule situation after CSU shortstop Jonathan Carpen mishandled a sharply hit line drive off the bat of Yamane for the win.

In the sixth, Crudo started things with a triple and freshman Eric Ferguson singled. After a sacrifice bunt by Yamane, the next four hitters all singled and then Park hit a sacrifice fly to left. Lambert doubled for the sixth run.

In the top of the seventh, Chicago State got two runs back to make the score 11-9, but the Bears kept the offensive momentum going with an eight run inning. With one out, Yamane walked, Coy, Harrison and Hilker all singled and Schenk walked to force another pitching change. Park, Lambert and Crudo promptly followed with singles, Packard doubled and the 19th run scored on the error off Yamane's line drive.

"We call it next guy up," Iwasaki stated. "That's what we preached in February and that's what we have to preach in May. Until they get the last guy out we're going to keep swinging it. It's just got to be the next guy up and that's what we did today. I told them tomorrow, obviously, we have to start early and shut them down early and generate from inning one."

The two teams meet tomorrow on the diamond for a doubleheader. First pitch for game one is scheduled for noon and game two starts 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game. Senior day will be on Sunday. The ceremony celebrating the eight seniors on the roster will start at 11:30 with the game starting at noon.