April 19, 2013

Niwot stars lift Baseball past NJIT

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY – The two players on the Northern Colorado Baseball roster from Niwot, Colo., were the shining stars for the Bears in a 7-4 victory over NJIT on Friday at Jackson Field.

The win lifts the Bears to 16-15 overall with a 7-2 record in Great West Conference play. The Highlanders are now 13-19 on the year and 5-4 in league action. The two teams return to Jackson Field for a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon and conclude the series with a single game on Sunday at 11 am.

Junior Josh Tinnon was the defensive star as he continued to pitch great. Friday, he threw six shutout innings, allowing just five hits, walking two and striking out four. Tinnon has now won all three conference outings, allowing just three earned runs in 22 2/3 innings.

"We're going to ride Josh Tinnon," Coach Carl Iwasaki said. "He's our horse. Did you see the defensive plays he made today – how about that guy? He is so athletic and he's our best defensive pitcher. I could probably play him at shortstop, he's that good. He's pitching down in the zone and he doesn't get rattled. He's a mature, veteran pitcher for us and good for him to get a win today."

Offensively, senior Ben Packard was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored, returning to the batting lineup after missing last week.

"Ben is a physical specimen," Iwasaki said. "He has given the effort to become the best baseball player. He has been able to come back every year because he has worked at it and he's amazing. He's a team captain and he helped his team win today."

Junior Lucas Corrick (Lakewood, Colo.) came on in relief of Tinnon on the hill, pitching the next 2 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Junior Robert Hawkins (Greeley) threw the final 2/3 of an inning with one hit and two strikeouts.

Packard was the only Bear with multiple hits in the game, though junior Nick Miller (Loveland, Colo.), junior Colby Harrison (Cheyenne, Wyo.) and senior Harrison Lambert (Lenexa, Kan.) each had two RBI. Miller also scored two of the team's seven runs.

Sophomore Jensen Park (Kaneohe, Hawai'i), playing in centerfield for the first time in his collegiate career, extended his hitting streak to a career-best 17 games with a single to third base in the fifth inning.

"We had timely hitting today," Iwasaki said. "Good for Lambert and Colby Harrison today – we were able to get hits with runners in scoring position. What I told them tonight it we should have put the game away. We have a run-rule in conference play and had the bases loaded with one out and we should end the game early and not have to go with Corrick and Hawkins. When we have the chance to do that, we need to, especially on Friday night – it's the most important game of the series. Sunday's the hardest – we proved that last week – but Friday's the one you have to get. We got it, so we'll take it."

The Bears were the first to score in the contest, breaking onto the scoreboard in the fourth inning. With one out, Miller reached on an error by the shortstop. Packard singled to center on a hit-and-run and Harrison singled past a diving second baseman to plate Miller. Senior Brooks Schneider (Longmont, Colo.) was plunked in the arm to load the bases and Lambert hit a hard ball that scooted past the first baseman to score two more. Sophomore Joe Love (Danville, Calif.) struck out swinging but Lambert took off to steal second. Once Schneider saw the catcher throw down, he stole home for the fourth run of the inning.

Junior Landon Moseley (Lawrence, Kan.) started the fifth inning by reaching on an error by the third baseman and Park followed with a single to third. Miller doubled to right center to plate both and advanced to third on the throw home and scored on a ground out off the bat of Harrison for the 7-0 advantage.

NJIT's Ed Charlton led off the sixth with a single back up the middle and Matt Weckerle attempted the same, however Love snagged the ground ball and was able to turn the double play on a great defensive effort.

The Highlanders scored one run in the seventh inning and added three more in the ninth to pull within three, 7-4.