April 20, 2013

Baseball splits doubleheader with NJIT

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado baseball team bounced back from a disappointing 2-1 loss to NJIT in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday and earned a 16-6, run-rule victory in the second game at Jackson Field.  

The Bears (17-16, 8-3 Great West Conference) had 17 hits in the nightcap after getting one-hit in the opener, winning via the 10-run rule in seven innings. All nine starters reached base at least once as the Bears moved to 2-1 in the four-game series, with the finale scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday.

"I'm proud of the way we bounced back today," Northern Colorado coach Carl Iwasaki said. "This morning was disappointing, but we responded well and now we have to go win the series."

Junior first baseman Colby Harrison (Cheyenne, Wyo.) paced the offense, going 4-for-7 on the afternoon, with three RBIs and four runs scored. Fellow junior Nick Miller (Loveland, Colo.) was the only Bear to get a hit in both games, going 3-for-7 on the day.

The 16 runs in the second game were the second-most scored in a game this season by Northern Colorado, trailing only the 19 the Bears scored against Nebraska Omaha on March 22. It also marked the seventh time in 18 games Northern Colorado scored in double digits against the Highlanders.

Pitchers Chris Hammer, Ben Packard, Jake Johnson and Robert Hawkins sturck out 12 Saturday without walking a batter.

GAME ONE RECAP

NJIT one-hit Northern Colorado for the 2-1 victory in the scheduled seven-inning game. Mark Leiter Jr., pitched the complete game for the Highlanders, striking out eight Bears and all three runs in the game were scored in the second inning.

Hammer (Greeley) pitched six innings for the Bears, allowing two runs on eight hits and struck out seven. He didn't walk a single batter, though he did hit one. Packard (Niwot, Colo.) retired the side in order in the seventh, throwing just 13 pitches to get three outs.

The Highlanders scored two runs in the second for the early lead after starting the inning with back-to-back doubles.

Miller got the only hit of the game for the Bears, singling past the third baseman to lead off the second. He moved to second on a groundout by Packard, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored the same way.

GAME TWO RECAP

Johnson (Aurora, Colo.) won his third game of the year after pitching 5 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts. Hawkins (Greeley) was on the hill for the final 1 2/3 innings, giving up one unearned run on two hits with a pair of strikeouts.

Harrison led the team with four hits, going 4-for-5 with four runs scored and three RBIs, while sophomore Jensen Park (Kaneohe, Hawai'i) went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and scored twice.

Sophomore Ryan Yamane (Honolulu, Hawai'i), Miller and sophomore Joe Love (Danville, Calif.) also added two hits apiece.

Johnson got three groundouts to the left side of the infield to retire the Highlanders in order in the first. The Highlanders second inning was eerily similar to the first game of the day as they scored two runs on three hits for the 2-0 advantage.

With one out in the bottom of the second, Packard, Harrison and Love all singled to load the bases. Senior catcher Harrison Lambert (Lenexa, Kan.) hit into a fielder's choice where NJIT got the lead runner, but Harrison scored on a walk to junior Landon Moseley (Lawrence, Kan.) for the 2-1 score.

Yamane led off the third with a walk and scored on a triple to centerfield by Park. Miller followed with a triple to right center to give the Bears their first lead of the afternoon. Packard kept the momentum going with a single to right-center. With one out, both Love and Lambert singled to plate Packard for the 5-2 lead.

Johnson worked quickly in the fourth, retiring the side to get his offense right back out there. Yamane hit the first pitch through the right side for a single, stole second and moved to third when the throw by the catcher deflected off the second baseman's glove. Park hit a single to centerfield to plate Yamane but was erased off the bases when NJIT right fielder Andrew Benjamin made a great diving catch on a ball smoked by Miller.

Johnson again set the Highlanders down in order in the fifth. Harrison started things offensively with a single to left center against relief pitcher Joe Fasano. He started to steal second, but Fasano was called for a balk and Love followed with a walk. Lambert reached on an error by the shortstop, which allowed Harrison to score. Senior Dylan Banach (Westminster, Colo.) hit into a fielder's choice, but plated Love for the second run in the inning. Yamane walked for the second time and Park followed with a single underneath a diving third baseman. Miller singled back up the middle for the 10th run of the game, scoring Yamane from second, which knocked Fasano out of the game. Junior Andrew Coffman (Davenport, Iowa) was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Harrison smoked a triple down the right-field line to clear the bags. Love reached on an error by the third baseman, which scored Harrison for the 14-2 lead.

NJIT scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to knock Johnson out of the game. Hawkins came on in relief and struck out the next two batters to end the threat for the 14-5 score.

Moseley singled to start things in the sixth for the Bears. He promptly stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error. He scored on a single to left center by Yamane to stretch the lead to 10 runs, 15-5.

The Highlanders managed one run in the top of the seventh to keep the game going.

Harrison hit a bloop single to center to begin the Bears' half of the seventh. Lambert and Moseley followed with four-pitch walks and Harrison scored on a wild pitch to end the contest, 16-6.