April 5, 2013

Baseball starts Great West play with win

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

CHICAGO -- For the first time in seven years the Northern Colorado baseball team on Friday morning played in a 1-0 contest and knocked off Chicago State at Les Miller Field in the Great West Conference opener for both teams.  

The Bears (10-13, 1-0 GWC) previously played in a 1-0 game on May 29, 2006, at Wichita State (a loss) and last won a 1-0 game April 8, 1998, against Regis.

Northern Colorado and Chicago State (3-17, 0-1) will continue their four-game series at 6 p.m. MT tomorrow and will then play a doubleheader on Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m. MT.

Sophomore Joe Love (Danville, Calif.) scored the game's lone run Friday, reaching on an infield single in the seventh inning and then later scored from third when sophomore Jensen Park hit a two-out RBI single to left field. 

Northern Colorado junior Josh Tinnon (Niwot, Colo.) won his second game of the season (2-1) and notched his second shutout with 7 2/3 innings on the mound. He allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out five.

Senior Kevin Willman (Aurora, Colo.) earned his fourth save of the year, throwing the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing just two hits.

Senior Dylan Banach (Westminster, Colo.) and Park each had two hits, accounting for four of the teams six on the day.

"[Chicago State starting pitcher Dylan Sterrett] did a good job of keeping our hitters off balance all day," Northern Colorado coach Carl Iwasaki said. "On the road you really have to score a couple of runs, and, once again today, we struggled with timely hitting. We left too many on base, but Josh Tinnon and Kevin Willman did a good job of keeping them just as off balance."

Chicago State's (3-17, 0-1) Mattingly Romanin had three of the Cougars' six hits.

The first six innings were fairly routine for both squads, but both head coaches were out of their dugouts in the late innings for lengthy conversations with the umpires.

Nathan Poff started a potential Cougars rally in the bottom of the eighth inning with a one-out single up the middle before shortstop Julian Russell was called out on batter's interference. Then, after Willman came on for the save and threw a wild pitch, allowing Poff to move to second, Romanin singled up the middle and Poff rounded third for home. 

Banach unleashed a great throw from centerfield and Harrison Lambert tagged out Poff at the plate, although the Chicago State dugout thought he slid in under the tag.

Then, in the top of the ninth, after Love reached on a fielding error by Romanin and was replaced on the basepaths by redshirt-freshman Robert Cashel, Landon Moseley laid down what looked to be a perfect bunt. He was called out on the play, though, after the umpires deemed Chicago State first baseman Ray Cekus bobbled but maintained control on a quick throw from Sterrett.

Banach followed with a single to left field, giving the Bears runners on first and second with just one out, but sophomore Ryan Yamane flied out to right and Park flew out to center.