May 24, 2012

Baseball stays alive with dramatic come-from-behind victory


OREM, Utah – In the longest game of the year, the Northern Colorado baseball team rallied from a 13-10 deficit over the final two innings against Texas-Pan American for the 14-13 walk-off victory in an elimination game at the Great West Conference Tournament.

True freshman Taylor Anderson had one at bat in the game made the most of it, hitting the first triple of his career to score two and give the Bears (27-32) the win after playing for three hours and 58 minutes.

The Bears had a 10-5 lead after five innings, but the Broncs (30-22) scored two in the sixth and six in the eighth to take a 13-10 lead. The team stayed composed, however, and scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth for their second-straight win in elimination contests.

The Bears hit back-to-back home runs for the first time all year as both senior Adam Hilker and sophomore Colby Harrison hit the middle of the berm in left-centerfield in the six-run fourth inning.  The home run for Hilker extended his hitting streak to 22 straight games. Both Hilker and Harrison are now tied for the team lead with Tony Crudo at three home runs each.

Hilker had four of the team's 13 RBI in the contest and went 2-for-6 on the day. Freshman Ryan Yamane was 3-for-4 with a pair of walks and came around to score three times. Senior Casey Coy also had three hits, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI. Fellow seniors Tony Crudo and Kevin Hurd also each had two hits in the contest as the Bears scored their 14 runs on 16 hits with six UTPA errors.

Northern Colorado used eight pitchers in the game. Freshman Jess Amedee started and pitched 3.2 innings for the longest time on the hill, while no one else went longer than 1.2 innings (senior Joe Willman).

Amedee threw just 11 pitches in the first inning to retire the Broncs in order on three straight groundouts.

With one out in the bottom of the second, runners on first and second for the Bears and junior Derek Baum at the plate with an 0-1 count, the third base umpire called a balk. After the call, the umpires conferred, both coaches were talked to and the teams cleared the field for eight minutes. The pitcher, Dusten Knight, went to his mouth while on the rubber so the correct ruling was a ball, not a balk and the runners reverted to first and second.

Before the timeout, Crudo doubled to right-center and Hurd walked. After the break, Crudo advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Baum for the 1-0 score.

Amedee again retired the side in order in the top of the third with two groundouts and a lineout to Yamane at second.

Crudo led off the fourth with a Texas-leaguer to left-center. He stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Chris Torres. Hurd plated Crudo with a single through the right side. Baum put down a sacrifice bunt that Torres mishandled and Yamane singled through the right side to knot the score at 3-3. Hilker and Harrison hit back-to-back home runs to the same spot in left-center to give the Bears a 7-3 advantage.

The Flying Hawai'in, Jensen Park, again dove and rolled for a catch in left center to rob the Broncs of a hit, doing so for the first out in the fifth frame. Vinnie Mejia hit a two-run homer of his own to make the score 7-5.

Hurd singled through the right side with one out in the fifth, while Yamane singled to right and Coy followed with a single over the third baseman to knock out Knight. Hilker hit a bloop single to left-center to plate Yamane and Coy scored on a failed pickoff throwing error by Zach Zouzalik for the 10-5 score.

Texas-Pan American added two more in the top of the sixth inning to close within three runs, 10-7 and took the lead with six runs in the eighth.

Coy singled to start the eighth. Harrison walked and Taylor Anderson came in to pinch run for him. Schenk hit a ball at the short stop, Shane Klemcke, who misplayed the ball and loaded the bases. Park singled to left and Crudo hit a ground ball to the third baseman, who tagged Schenk on his way by, but Anderson scored to make the score 13-12.

In the bottom of the ninth with one out, Yamane singled back up the middle and Coy singled to right-center but was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Hilker, who smashed the ball back into the pitcher, Guadalupe Barerra. Anderson, in his first plate appearance of the day, tripled to right center to clear the bases and keep the Bears hopes alive with the 14-13 walkoff win.

The Bears will play Friday at 2:30 pm against Houston Baptist, which defeated Chicago State, 8-4 to stay alive.