March 21, 2013

Baseball opens home season with extra inning win

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY – A strange schedule change saw the Northern Colorado baseball team play its home opener on Thursday against Nebraska Omaha and it was a doozy of one as the Bears won 13-12 in 10 innings.

"This was a great win for us today," Coach Carl Iwasaki said. "This is the first time we've really been able to rally from behind and today I saw a lot of heart out there."

The Bears (5-11) continued to fight from behind most of the game and scored two in the bottom of the 10th for their first extra-inning win of the year. Junior centerfielder Dylan Banach (Westminster, Colo.) was the hero, hitting a single down the left field line to score junior Landon Moseley (Lawrence, Kan.) and give the team the victory over the Mavs (5-10).

The first of a three-game series, the Bears scored their 13 runs on 18 hits, while the Mavs had 12 runs on 19 hits. The teams were originally slated to play the series in Omaha beginning on Friday, but due to inclement weather moving through Nebraska, the teams agreed to play in Greeley since Omaha was already in the state playing a series at Air Force.

The weather was touch-and-go in Greeley, as rain fell through the middle innings, but the teams battled through it for the exciting finish.

"I saw a lot of attitude today," Iwasaki continued. "It showed on all their faces that they weren't going to let this game slip away. I'm proud of that fight and we know we can compete with anyone, but it was good to see in our first home game."

Both sophomore Ryan Yamane (Honolulu, Hawai'i) and junior Nick Miller (Loveland, Colo.) both had 3-for-5 days at the plate, while sophomore Jensen Park (Kaneohe, Hawai'i) led the way with three RBI.  All nine starters reached base at least once in the game and eight of the nine had a hit.

Junior Josh Tinnon (Niwot, Colo.), this week's Great West Conference Pitcher of the Week, threw 5 1/3 innings in the start for the Bears. He had a no decision, allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Sophomore Eian Raeber (Hanford, Calif.) was credited with the win, pitching the 10th inning. He allowed one run on two hits with two walks – one intentional – and two strikeouts.

In between, junior Robert Hawkins (Greeley), junior Josh Wagner (Newhall, Calif.) and senior Kevin Willman (Aurora, Colo.) all worked at least 2/3 of an inning.

The Mavs took the early 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning, but the Bears immediately answered with two of their own in the bottom half of the frame. After Miller singled, he came around to score when senior Ben Packard (Niwot) roped a double to left center. Packard scored on an error by the second baseman on a ball hit by junior Joe Love (Danville, Calif.).

Both teams added one run in the third. With one out, Banach hit a ground ball that scooted between a diving short stop and third baseman. Yamane followed with a double that went over the head of the right-fielder and a groundout by Park plated Banach for the 3-3 tie.

UNO regained the lead with one run in the top of the fifth for the 4-3 tally.

Hawkins came in with one out and two runners on in the top of the sixth. He struck out the first batter he faced, walked the second to load the bases, but fanned the pinch hitter, Brett Miller, to get out of the inning with no damage.

Yamane led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to left and then on the 10th pitch of his at bat, Park hit a double over the left fielder's head in left center and Packard followed with a sacrifice fly to center for the 5-4 advantage. Lambert singled to left center and knocked out UNO reliever Cole Volkers.

With two outs Moseley singled through the right side to plate Miller, but senior Harrison Lambert (Lenexa, Kan.) was thrown out at third trying to take the extra base, ending the frame with the 6-4 lead.

In the top of the seventh, UNO scored six runs on six hits to open up a 10-6 advantage.

Freshman Rob Cashel (Park City, Utah) started the seventh off with a single, advanced on a single by Yamane through the right side and scored on a double over the right fielder's head off the bat of Park. Miller singled down the right field line to score both Hawai'ians for the 10-9 score. A single to shallow right field by Lambert knotted the score again at 10-10 and the inning continued with a sacrifice fly by Love for the 11-10 lead.

UNO tied the score again in the top of the ninth, forcing extra innings. They added one in the top of the 10th for the 12-11 advantage.

Senior Derek Baum (San Diego) started the 10th off with a single back up the middle and senior Brooks Schneider (Loveland) was asked to pinch run for him. On a hard hit ball by Love, the short stop flipped to the second baseman but wasn't in time, placing runners on first and second. Moseley bunted, but the pitcher, Josh Bullock, was able to throw out Schneider. Colby Harrison (Cheyenne, Wyo.), pinch hitting, grounded out to the second baseman, but advanced the runners to second and third and then Banach hit the game winner with two outs.

The two teams take the field again tomorrow at noon for a doubleheader. Junior Jake Johnson (Aurora, Colo.) is slated to take the hill for the Bears in game one.