May 12, 2013

Baseball gets dramatic win, sweeps past UTPA


GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado baseball team made it a clean sweep over Texas-Pan American on Sunday, winning a postponed held-over game 5-2 and then rallying in the second game for a 6-5 win at Jackson Field.

Northern Colorado (25-22, 16-7 Great West) won all four games against the Broncs (24-26, 14-9) this weekend, overcoming a weather-induced postponement Saturday that pushed the game to today with the Bears ahead 1-0 with one out in the bottom of the second inning.

They never trailed in that one and then scored the winning run in the second game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to earn the series sweep and move to within percentage points in the standings of Great West-leader Utah Valley (23-25, 14-6), heading into the final week of regular-season play.

Junior Chris Hammer (Greeley) tied his season-high with seven strikeouts and didn't allow an earned run in seven innings. He pitched the first two innings Saturday and returned to the mound today, surrendering seven hits and not walking a batter. 

He teamed with senior Ben Packard (Niwot, Colo.), who recorded his first career save with just one hit allowed over the final two innings, to give the Bears a zero-walk pitching effort for the fourth time this season. 

Both sophomore Jensen Park (Kaneohe, Hawai'i) and junior Ben Netzel (Loveland, Colo.) were 2-for-4 in the game, with Park scoring two of the team's five runs. Junior Andrew Coffman (Davenport, Iowa) led the club with two RBIs, and the Bears scored their five runs on six hits with five Broncs errors.

Hammer retired the side in order n the first inning Saturday, and Park hit his second home run of the year in the bottom half of the inning to put the Bears ahead early.

Junior Colby Harrison (Cheyenne, Wyo.) was hit on the first pitch of the fourth, and Coffman bunted back to the pitcher, who threw high to give Northern Colorado runners at first and second with nobody out.

Netzel then placed a perfect bunt down the third base line and beat the throw to load the bases for senior catcher Derek Baum (San Diego) and senior Brooks Schneider (Longmont, Colo.), who hit into back-to-back fielder's choices to score Harrison and Coffman and put the Bears ahead 3-0.

The Broncs scored one run on one hit in the fifth inning, but Northern Colorado scored answered with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Park singled over a leaping third baseman with two outs and moved to second on a failed pickoff attempt before junior Nick Miller (Loveland) reached on an error by the first baseman, and Harrison drew a walk to load the bases for Coffman, who singled to right to score a pair.

UTPA scored once in the sixth, and neither team allowed a run over the final three frames.

Harrison and sophomore Ryan Yamane (Honolulu, Hawai'i) each went 2-for-4 with big hits in the Bears' ninth-inning comeback.

Yamane scored the game-winner from second on a one-out Harrison shot back up the middle to give the Bears their 18th win in their last 19 meetings against the Broncs.

Netzel scored two of the team's six runs after going 1-for-3 with a walk, and Miller earned his third straight no-decision on the mound after he allowed five runs on nine hits, walked just one and struck out three.

Both junior Kevin Willman (Aurora, Colo.) and junior Robert Hawkins (Greeley) pitched a scoreless inning, with Hawkins (1-1) picking up the win.

Miller retired the side in order in the first, and, with one out in the bottom of the first Park nearly cleared the left field wall but instead hit a double off the fence. Miller then helped his own cause with a double down the right-field line to plate Park for the 1-0 lead.

Texas-Pan American took its first lead since the first inning on Friday, scoring two runs in the top of the second off four hits with one NC error.

Netzel singled to left center and the ball was mishandled in the field, allowing him to get to second base. Schneider and freshman Rob Cashel (Park City, Utah) were hit in back-to-back at bats and Cashel left the game after being hit in the head. Netzel tied the game on a wild pitch.

With one out in the fourth, Netzel walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. Schneider and senior Dylan Banach (Westminster, Colo.) followed with back-to-back walks to load the bases. Junior Landon Moseley (Lawrence, Kan.) hit a fly ball to right field to plate Netzel and give the Bears the 3-2 lead. Yamane singled through the right side to score Schneider and Park walked to put the bases full of Bears. A wild pitch to Miller scored Banach and with a 2-0 count, the Broncs went to the bullpen again. Guadalupe Barrera threw two more balls to Miller for the walk, but Harrison flew out to deep center to end the threat with the team leading 5-2.

The Broncs scored two runs in the top of the fifth to close within one run, 5-4. Miller hit the leadoff batter in the top of the sixth but the Bears caught him in a rundown 2-5-1-6 down the third base line for the second out of the inning after he was sacrificed to second and stole third.

UTPA knotted the score at 5-5 with one run in the top of the seventh.

Yamane kicked off the ninth with a single down the right field line and Park sacrificed him to second base. With two outs, Harrison singled back up the middle to score Yamane and give the Bears another walk-off victory.