March 3, 2013

Baseball ends series with a 3-2 victory

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Northern Colorado baseball team staved off a series sweep with a 3-2 win at Santa Clara on Sunday afternoon.

"This was a great way for us to get a win on getaway day," Northern Colorado coach Carl Iwasaki said. "Obviously, Nick Miller did a great job for us on the mound today, working six innings. He kept us right in it, and we were able to scratch and claw our way to the win."

The Bears (3-4) jumped out to an early lead, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning.

With one out, junior Ben Netzel (Loveland, Colo.) doubled to right-center and scored on a single to right by junior Nick Miller (Loveland). Miller moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Jensen Park (Kaneohe, Hawai'i) and scored on a double by junior Colby Harrison (Cheyenne, Wyo.).

The Broncos (6-6) answered with one run in the bottom half of the inning, before both teams went scoreless through the next seven innings when each team tacked on one run in the ninth.

Senior Harrison Lambert (Lenexa, Kan.) started the ninth with a single to center in a pinch-hitting role, and freshman Rob Cashel (Park City, Utah) pinch ran for him. He advanced to second on a ground out by sophomore Ryan Yamane (Honolulu, Hawai'i) and scored on a single to right by senior Dylan Banach (Westminster, Colo.).

Miller also started on the hill for the Bears and improved to 2-0 on the season after throwing six strong innings. He allowed just one run on five hits and struck out five, while walking three.

Miller's lone run surrendered came from the the Broncos' hottest hitter, Greg Harisis.

Senior Kevin Willman (Aurora, Colo.) picked up his second save of 2013, pitching the final two innings. He struck out three, walked two and allowed one run on two hits. His run was also a solo home run off the bat of Zach Looney.

Willman ended the game with a caught-looking strikeout. 

"Scoring the run in the top half of the ninth was a huge key to the win, especially since there was the home run in the bottom half," Iwasaki said.

The Bears had just five hits in the game but bunched them together when it mattered. The hits by Netzel and Banach stretched their hitting streaks to four games each.

Northern Colorado will head to Nebraska for a mid-week, two-game series with the Huskers on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Both games are scheduled to start at 12:35 p.m. MT. The Bears will then return to California this weekend for a four-game series at CSU Bakersfield, beginning at 7 p.m. MT Friday.

"It's very exciting for us to get this win," Iwasaki said. "I'm looking forward to us getting our bats going again and excited about going into Lincoln for the two against Nebraska."