By HEATHER KENNEDY
GREELEY – Senior left-handed pitcher Joe Willman threw the final game of his career at Jackson Field and he wasn't about to let his Northern Colorado baseball team lose the second game of a doubleheader against Chicago State.
Willman threw the first nine-inning complete game of his career, winning 5-2 after the Bears (21-25, 11-8 Great West) dropped the opener 5-4 to the Cougars (9-32, 6-13 Great West) in seven innings.
"Joe Willman, he's a Bear for life," said Head Coach Carl Iwasaki. "There's going to be days where we don't have our best stuff at the plate, but we're going to come through with our defense and our pitching and that kid's pretty passionate about winning for his team. This was his last opportunity at Jackson Field and he took advantage of it and I'm very proud of him."
Fellow fifth-year senior Adam Hilker had a six-hit day, going 4-for-4 in the first game and 2-for-5 in the nightcap. Senior Casey Coy went 2-for-3 in the second game after going 0-for-1 in the first game but reached base three times.
"There's a lot of distractions this weekend and it's always a challenge at the collegiate level during graduation," said Iwasaki. "There's a lot of emotions going on and I feel after first pitch it should go away, but we've got to right that tomorrow."
Game One Recap
Despite a stellar game at the plate by Hilker, the Cougars scored five runs in the final three innings for the 5-4 victory. Freshman Jensen Park also had two hits as the four through seven hitters in the lineup had all eight of the team's hits.
Coy went hitless, but was on base in three of his four plate appearances after getting hit twice and walking once.
Sophomore Chris Hammer pitched six innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits, walking one and striking out six. Senior Cameron Tallman faced one batter, hitting him and sophomore Josh Tinnon gave up one run on one hit, facing five batters.
"I really feel like we beat ourselves," said Iwasaki. "And when you beat yourself, I don't know if you get mad, but you actually are frustrated with your performance. Those kinds of things happen in every level of this game and we had 40 minutes between games to flush that out and go out and take care of game three in the series. Now we lead 2-1 and we better go take it to these guys tomorrow.
The Bears broke onto the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning. Park singled to right field to start things off and scored on a double to deep left-center by sophomore Harrison Lambert.
In the top of the third, Jeremy Ratajczyk hit a line drive that freshman Ryan Yamane dove, rolled and came up with. It wasn't in time to get the runner at first, but Yamane noticed Mattingly Romanin trying to score and gunned him out at the plate with Lambert making the tag in time.
Hilker laid down a perfect bunt down the left field line that rolled right along the chalk for a single and scored on a triple off the bat of senior Adrian Schenk to straight away center. Lambert got his second RBI of the game on a groundout to the shortstop, which plated Schenk for the 3-0 lead.
Coy was hit for the second time in the game, this one right in the helmet, but luckily there was no injury and he was able to stay in and take the free base.
Chicago State two runs in the top of the fifth to close within one, 3-2.
Hilker started the Bears fifth with a double down the left field line, this one shooting down the chalk, just like the bunt in the third. Park tripled to the deepest part of the field for one run and a 4-2 advantage.
The Cougars added one run in the sixth and took their first lead of the day with two runs in the seventh for a 5-4 tally.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hilker again singled, this one a shot back up the middle to give him a four-hit game. Unfortunately, Hilker was stranded at first as the Bears lost for the first-time ever to Chicago State, 5-4.
Game Two Recap
Yamane led the team in game two, going 3-for-5 with three runs scored, while Coy and Hilker each had two hits. Willman got the complete game victory to move to 4-6 on the season.
In the first inning, Yamane singled to right and Coy hit his first home run of the year, clearing the left field wall. Sophomore Colby Harrison walked and Schenk was hit by a pitch. Park followed with a single to left center to plate Harrison.
In the bottom of the fourth, Yamane doubled and scored on a single by Harrison for a 4-0 lead.
Chicago State scored an unearned run in the top of the sixth after Albert Carpen walked, moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on a base hit by Romanin.
A leadoff walk to senior Kevin Hurd was the end of the day for starter Steven O'Hair. Freshman Eric Ferguson pinch ran for Hurd, who was called out on a controversial call at second on a bunt by Yamane. Coy followed with a double to right-center and Harrison was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Hilker singled to center for one run for the 5-1 score.
The Cougars tried to rally in the top of the ninth as Romanin and Jonathan Carpen singled. The Bears turned their fourth double play of the game for two outs. Johnny Cantu singled to score Romanin but Willman got William Hill to fly out to right to end the game at 5-2.