By HEATHER KENNEDY
OREM, Utah – Northern Colorado senior Adam Hilker hit his second home run of the season in the top of the eighth inning, but it wasn't enough in the Bears' 5-3 road loss at Utah Valley on Thursday.
Hilker's shot provided the final offense in the game as Northern Colorado wasn't able to spoil the Wolverines' undefeated Great West Conference season.
The two teams return to the diamond at 4 p.m. Friday for a doubleheader and will conclude their regular seasons with a single game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Bears (25-28, 15-10 Great West) scored the final three runs of the game after Utah Valley (40-12, 25-0 Great West) scored five in the first five, including three in the second to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
Hilker had two of the team's seven hits and two of the three RBI in the game to extend his hitting streak to 18 games. Sophomore Colby Harrison had the team's other RBI as the top four hitters in the lineup were all on via hit at least once in the game.
The Northern Colorado defense also turned three double plays in the game, one shy of its season-high of four from May 5 against Chicago State.
Sophomore Chris Hammer (5-2) pitched three innings, allowing three earned runs (four total) on eight hits with one walk. Junior Dan Talley came in and pitched four frames, tying for his longest outing of the year. He allowed just one run on six hits and walked one. Senior Cameron Tallman threw the final inning and retired the side in order, striking out one.
The Wolverines used a balanced offensive attack with all nine hitters getting at least one hit and five had two.
Utah Valley got one run in the bottom of the first off of two hits, including a long double by Goose Kallunki to centerfield.
The Wolverines hit four straight singles to start the second inning, before senior Casey Coy and Hilker turned a 3-6-3 double play. UVU scored one after that for the 4-0 lead.
Senior Tony Crudo broke the Bears into the hits column in the top of the third with a single to center. Crudo was called out at second attempting to steal second.
The Bears turned their second double play of the game in the top of the third to keep the Wolverines off the board.
Freshman Ryan Yamane led off the inning with a single to left, but was also caught stealing. With two outs, Harrison walked and Hilker singled back up the middle, but the pair was stranded.
Talley came in to pitch in the fourth inning and after walking Cole Butcher with one out, got Jake Rickenbach to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the frame.
Kallunki homered with one out and a full count in the bottom of the fifth to extend the UVU lead to 5-0.
Freshman Taylor Anderson, pinch hitting for junior catcher Derek Baum, singled back up the middle on the first pitch of the sixth inning. He became the third leadoff hitter in four innings to reach base. Coy singled back up the middle and Anderson never slowed down, rounding second and sliding into third safely. Anderson scored on a sacrifice fly by Harrison for the first run of the game for the Bears.
Hilker hit just the fourth home run of his career with two outs in the top of the eighth after Harrison walked for the second time to cut the lead in half, 5-3 for the final score.