March 12, 2014

Baseball puts together complete game in 9-2 win at Nebraska

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Northern Colorado baseball team put together all three facets of the game on Wednesday, recording a season-high 15 hits, playing fantastic defense and allowing just two runs in a 9-2 win at Nebraska to split the series.

The 15 hits are the most since the Bears (5-13) recorded 19 in a seven-inning win at NYIT on May 17, 2013.

"This was a great game for Bears baseball," Head Coach Carl Iwasaki said. "It was a great team win and an excellent effort by the whole team to generate nine runs against Nebraska. The bottom line is for us to play against and compete with teams like Nebraska – ones in the Big Ten – in March to get ready for us to play in June. We're going to take this momentum into Kansas State and keep things rolling."

The Bears start a three-game series at Kansas State on Friday evening with first pitch scheduled for 5:35 p.m. (MT).

On a designed pitch-by-committee day for the Bears six different pitchers got work with senior Lucas Corrick (Lakewood, Colo.) throwing three crucial innings from the fifth through seventh. He gave up one run on just four hits in already his eighth appearance of the year.

On defense, sophomore Rob Cashel (Park City, Utah) made a terrific diving catch in deep right-centerfield to rob the Huskers (9-6) of not only a base hit, but possibly a rally. Senior Landon Moseley (Lawrence, Kan.) also made several top-notch grabs at second base, while senior Colby Harrison (Cheyenne, Wyo.) pulled a few throws out of the dirt at first base to record outs.

Senior Josh Tinnon (Niwot, Colo.) started for the Bears and pitched one inning as did fellow weekend starter Chris Hammer (Greeley). They both worked scoreless innings, facing four batters each. Junior Yan Fortin (Laval, Quebec) threw 1 1/3 innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two of the five batters he faced. Senior Nick Miller (Loveland, Colo.) worked 2/3 of an inning, getting a double play and then walked one which came around to score. Corrick pitched his three innings and then freshman Nick Tanner (Foothill Ranch, Calif.) threw in his second-straight game. Tanner walked two, but allowed just one hit over the final two innings.

It seemed every time the Bears had runners in scoring position, junior Brandon Vaughn (Louisville, Colo.) was stepping into the batter's box. Vaughtn went 4-for-5 with three of the team's eight RBI and he scored a run. Freshman Jake Ekman (Littleton, Colo.) also continued to play well, going 3-for-5 with two RBI, three runs scored and a walk. Junior Ryan Yamane (Manoa, Hawai'i) and senior Andrew Coffman (Davenport, Iowa) added two-hit days to the totals and each had one RBI and one run scored.

The Bears set the tone right away, scoring two in the top of the first. Ekman singled past a diving third baseman to start things off on the second pitch of the game. With two outs, Harrison singled up the middle and Vaughn hit a double off the wall in left to plate Ekman. Harrison then scored on a wild pitch for the 2-0 lead.

In the third, Ekman and Yamane drew back-to-back walks to start the inning and force a pitching change. Miller singled up the middle to load the bases and with one out, Vaughn hit a slow roller towards third base. The Huskers third baseman, Bryce Only, tried to flip the ball home but Ekman beat the toss for the third run of the game.

Yamane singled to center and Dan Reese, pinch hitting, hit a single to right. Harrison bunted the pair up 90 feet and Vaughn again singled – this time to right – to plate Yamane and give the Bears the 4-0 lead.

A walk and a double down the left field line by Huskers hitters in the bottom of the fifth gave them one run for the 4-1 tally.

The Bears immediately answered with two runs in the top of the sixth. Brett Stone walked as a pinch hitter and moved up 90 feet on a Moseley sacrifice bunt. Ekman hit it about as far as you can – but into the wind -- and it bounced off the wall in left field for a double and an RBI. Yamane followed with a single past a diving second baseman to plate Ekman and give the Bears a 6-1 advantage.

Coffman led off the seventh with a single back up the middle. With two outs, Moseley also singled up the middle and Ekman hit a bloop single to centerfield to score Coffman and stretch the lead to 7-1. After Corrick retired the side in order, the Bears got right back to work on offense. Miller walked and Harrison was hit by a pitch, forcing another pitching change.

Vaughn singled through the right side. A wild pitch moved everyone up, but Miller slipped while trying to slide into home and was tagged out. Coffman singled to centerfield to score one and Cashel hit a deep fly to right field to score Vaughn on a sacrifice fly for the 9-1 lead.

The Huskers had two singles and a sacrifice fly to score one in the bottom half of the frame, but that was the end of the scoring for 9-2 on the board.