May 18, 2013

Baseball holds on for fourth straight win against NYIT

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. -- NYIT loaded the bases in the eighth and ninth innings Saturday to threaten Northern Colorado Baseball's winning streak, but the Bears got out of both jams and ended their regular season with a 4-1 win at Gregg Alfano Field.

Northern Colorado (29-22, 20-7 Great West Conference) scored two runs in the fourth and two in the fifth in running its winning streak to eight games. 

The Bears will take that streak and the conference's regular-season championship into this week's final Great West Conference Tournament at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark, N.J.

Northern Colorado will face eighth-seeded Chicago State in their first game Tuesday at 12:15 pm (ET).

Texas-Pan American (No. 2 seed) will face NYIT (7) in the opener, while Houston Baptist (3) plays host NJIT (6), and Utah Valley (4) faces North Dakota (5).

Junior Nick Miller (Loveland, Colo.) continued his hitting barrage Saturday, going 2 for 3 with two RBIs and one run scored. Sophomore Ryan Yamane (Honolulu) also had two hits, going 2 for 5 with one run.

Junior Ben Netzel (Loveland) and senior Harrison Lambert (Lenexa, Kan.) had the Bears' other two RBIs.

Sophomore Jensen Park (Kaneohe, Hawai'i) had a nine-game hitting streak snapped in the game, though he reached base twice, drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch for the first time all year.

Both teams had eight hits and one error in the game, but Northern Colorado took advantage of getting the leadoff runner on in both the fourth and fifth innings for the win.

Junior Josh Wagner (Newhall, Calif.) improved to 1-1 this year after allowing three hits and striking out one in four innings on the mound.

Junior Robert Hawkins (Greeley) and senior Ben Packard (Niwot, Colo.) each threw a scoreless inning, sandwiched around sophomore Eian Raeber (Hanford, Calif.), who gave up an unearned run, and junior Kevin Willman (Aurora, Colo.) pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to record his ninth save of the year, although he was amidst some drama after allowing four hits and two walks.

J.P. Lipovac (1-7) took the loss for NYIT (10-45), allowing all four runs, though only two were earned. He surrendered five hits, walked five and struck out three through six innings.

Park started the fourth inning by reaching on an error to third base, and Miller followed with a single to left to break up the Lipovac's no-hitter. Junior Colby Harrison (Cheyenne, Wyo.) thew flew out to deep right field, allowing Park to move to third, and Netzel laid down a great bunt on a safety squeeze, bringing Park home for the game's first run.

Lambert put Northern Colorado ahead 2-0 when he followed with a single between shortstop and third base, scoring Miller, who slid safely into home after NYIT's catcher dropped the throw.

Junior Landon Moseley (Lawrence, Kan.) singled to short to begin the fifth inning and stole second base before Yamane singled through the right side to put runners on the corners.

Yamane then swiped second and, with one out, Miller singled down the right-field line to plate two more runs and extend the lead to 4-0.

NYIT scored one unearned run in the bottom of the sixth to close within three, 4-1, but it loaded the bases in both the eighth and ninth innings against Willman, who was able to work out of both jams for his ninth save of the year.