May 13, 2012

Baseball moves into second in GWC standings with Sunday sweep


EDINBURG, Texas – The first game took 14 innings, but the Northern Colorado baseball team became the first team all year to win back-to-back games at Texas-Pan American, doing so in thrilling fashion with a 7-5 victory. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bears again shut out the Broncs, winning 4-0 to win the four-game series 3-1 and take over second place in the Great West standings.

The Bears (25-26, 15-9 Great West) are now 24-26-1 all-time in extra-inning games and are 1-1 in 2012. It was the first extra-inning game the team has played in Great West Conference action, though the last two years they have lost in 10 innings in the Great West Tournament in the final game of the season. The 14 innings is also the second-longest game played in school history, just shy of the 15 the 2010 team played at Sam Houston State.

The 25 victories by the Bears surpasses last year's total of 24 wins and the team has at least seven games remaining in 2012.

Texas-Pan American hadn't been shut out at home all season when the Bears came to town and hadn't been kept off the scoreboard since May 27, 2010 when Northern Colorado won 10-0 in the first-ever Great West Tournament.

Both teams had 14 hits in the first game, but the Broncs (27-18, 14-10 Great West) had four errors, compared to just one by the Bears. The Bears scored three runs in the first, one each in the seventh and eighth and two in the 14th, while the Broncs scored one in the first and two each in the second and fourth.

Senior Adam Hilker had two hits in the first game and one in the second game to stretch his career-long hitting streak to 16 games. The short stop has been on base at least once in all 50 games this season in which he's played (of the team's 51).

After going scoreless the first six innings in game two, the Bears hung a crooked number in the seventh inning, plating four for the only scoring in the game.

Freshman Jensen Park went 2-for-4, while the other six hits in the game were spread across six different hitters, though Hilker drove in two of the four runs. The Bears were also hit by a pitch eight times in the nightcap, including senior Casey Coy getting hit three times.

The Bears conclude the regular season with a Tuesday game at home against Air Force, beginning at 3 pm and then head to Orem, Utah to take on the hottest team in Division I in Utah Valley. The Wolverines are currently riding a 32-game winning streak, the fourth-longest in NCAA Division I history.

Game One Recap
Hilker singled in the first inning and ended game one with a pair of hits. Freshman Ryan Yamane went 4-for-7 with two doubles, scoring two of the team's seven runs – including the game winner -- and senior Adrian Schenk had the other multi-hit game, going 2-for-5.

The Northern Colorado pitching did a great job of not allowing free base runners as they walked just one in 14 innings.

Senior Nate Steinmetz allowed five runs on eight hits in four innings of work. He struck out two and walked just one. Junior Jake Johnson threw a solid 5.2 innings in relief, giving up just four hits and he fanned two. Senior Cameron Tallman struck out the only batter he faced and freshman Jess Amedee (5-3) got the win after surrendering just two hits in four innings with one strikeout.

Freshman Taylor Anderson walked and moved to third on the single through the right side by Hilker. Sophomore Colby Harrison reached on catcher's interference and all scored on a single by Schenk that went over the second baseman's head. The ball was mishandled in center and then overthrown into the dugout on the third-baseline for the 3-0 lead.

The Broncs got two hits in the bottom of the first but the Flying Hawai'in struck again as Park made a diving, rolling back-handed catch in left-center to allow only one run to cross in the frame for the 3-1 tally.

In the bottom of the second, the Broncs had four singles and a sacrifice bunt to knot the score at 3-3. There were runners on first and third with one out when Steinmetz threw a pitch out. The batter was called out on batter's interference and the runner at first was caught stealing in a run down to end the inning in a strange ruling by the officiating crew.

With two outs in the fourth, Park and junior Harrison Lambert were both hit in the middle of the back on consecutive pitches. A pitch hit freshman Eric Ferguson, but the umpire said he was leaning over the plate and called it strike three to end the inning.

The Broncs scored two in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.

Yamane led off the top of the seventh with a double down the right field line and moved to third on a groundout by Anderson. Coy grounded out to the first baseman, but got the RBI to make the score 5-4.

Harrison started the eighth in the same fashion, doubling down the right field line. Schenk sacrificed himself to put Harrison on third. Park hit a long fly ball to right, which the right fielder misplayed. In the scorebook, it's a sacrifice fly with an error to knot the game at 5-5.

Johnson worked quickly in the eighth, he hit a batter, but got a groundout and two flyouts sandwiched around the hit batsman.

Yamane again got things going for the Bears, starting the ninth with a single to left but he was stranded on first as Zach Zouzalik struck out both senior Tony Crudo and Coy, though Coy had an 11-pitch at bat, fouling off several pitches.

Johnson gave up just one hit in the bottom of the ninth, but got a strikeout and two quick fly outs to force extra innings.

With two outs in the tenth, Schenk singled back up the middle, but Klemcke made a good play at short stop to throw out Park for the final out.

With two outs in the bottom of the tenth and a runner on first, Tallman struck out Angel Ibanez for the second-straight day and pushed the game to the 11th.

With one out, Kevin Hurd, who came in during the sixth inning, doubled down the left field line but again the Bears stranded a runner.

Amedee replaced Tallman on the hill for the 11th inning and he promptly retired the side in order on just eight pitches.

Harrison was hit by a pitch with two outs in the top of the 12th and junior pitcher Dan Talley pinch ran, but he was left at first.

The Broncs got one hit off Amedee in the 12th, but Roger Bernal was also stranded at first base after singling up the middle with two outs. The Bears went down in order in the top half of inning 13.

Ibanez singled up the middle, but Lambert noticed he had taken too big of a lead off first, called for the pitch out and Lambert threw down to Coy at first who tagged him out and ended the threat.

Yamane led off the top of the 14th with a double down the left field line. Crudo, who entered the game defensively in the eighth inning, tripled down the right field line to score the go-ahead run. Coy singled between the short stop and third base to plate Crudo and Hilker singled to right. Junior Derek Baum laid down a sacrifice bunt in a pinch-hitting role for the first out, but advanced both runners 90 feet. The Broncs intentionally walked Schenk to load the bags, but Preston Budziszew got the final two outs on the hill to stop the Bears scoring at two runs for the 7-5 lead.

Amedee retired the side in order in the 14th for his fifth win of the year. He pitched the final four innings in scoreless fashion.

Game Two Recap
Junior Kevin Willman threw six shutout innings, giving the Willman brothers 12.2 scoreless innings on the weekend. Kevin allowed just three hits, walking one and striking out one after Joe threw 6.2 in the Bears 3-0 game two win on Saturday. Junior Dan Talley followed up with three shutout innings, allowing just one hit with two walks for his first save in a Bears uniform.

For the first time all series, the Bears didn't score in the first inning, though they had Coy at third base with two outs.

In the bottom of the second, Hilker made a great diving catch for a line drive out and then he came up throwing to Coy at first for the double play, catching Vinnie Mejia off first, who led off the inning with a walk.

Hurd made two great catches in right field in the bottom of the third, diving for one and making a long run and over the shoulder grab for the other. Willman threw just six pitches to retire the side in order in the fourth inning.

Willman threw another low pitch inning in the fifth with seven pitches, thanks in part to a diving stop by Crudo, who threw to first from one knee in time for the second out on Iradier Hernandez.

Yamane singled to start things off in the sixth and moved to second on a wild pitch. Coy once again got hit by a pitch, this time in the shoulder and the pair moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt by Hilker. Harrison hit into a fielder's choice where the Broncs threw home to tag out Yamane and the Bears were kept off the scoreboard.

An infield single in the sixth off the bat of Andy Fortuna snapped a streak of 12 straight hitters retired by Willman. Fortuna stole second on a strikeout of Bernal and then stole third but was stranded.

Schenk singled through the right side to begin the seventh and was bunted over to second by Crudo. Taylor Anderson pinch hit and was hit in the hip by a pitch. Lambert, who was pinch hitting for Baum, singled to left and Schenk scored for the first run of the game. Yamane moved both runners up with a bunt back to the pitcher and Coy was hit by a pitch for the third time in the game to load the bases.

The Broncs made a pitching change, bringing in Dylan Badura. Two runs scored on a single to right by Hilker for the 3-0 lead. The Broncs tried a pitch out and Badura threw a wild pitch to move Hilker to second. Harrison was hit in the small of his back to again load the bases and UTPA again went to the bullpen, this time bringing in right-hander Nolan Atkins. Park was also hit by a pitch for an RBI to score Coy. Schenk came to the plate for the second time in the inning, but popped up for the final out and a 4-0 advantage.

Talley came in on the hill for the Bears and allowed one hit but stranded the runner at first in the bottom half of the seventh inning.

Crudo started the eighth with a first-pitch single back up the middle. Ferguson, who came in defensively in the bottom of the seventh, was plunked in the left shoulder for the eighth Bear to get hit in the contest. The Broncs again went to the pen, bringing in Jonathan Delgado. Lambert successfully advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher and Yamane was intentionally walked to load the bases and Coy hit into a double play to end the threat.

Talley worked around two walks issued in the eighth to keep the shut out intact in the bottom of the eighth and he retired the side in order for the ninth to get his first save of the year.