Bears and Wolverines split in baseball
GREELEY, Colo. – The history between the two might not be very long, but the games are usually exciting when the Utah Valley and Northern Colorado baseball teams step on the field together and Friday was no exception as the two split a doubleheader. Utah Valley won the first game 16-8 but the Bears rallied for a 4-3 win in game two.
The Bears outhit the Wolverines (29-22, 21-2 GWC) in both contests to move to 23-29 overall and 19-6 in Great West Conference play.
Junior Ben Packard hit .778 for the two games, going 7-for-9 with four doubles. Both junior Jarod Berggren and senior Bret Fanning went 4-for-8 on the day and Berggren had the team's lone home run in the twin bill, hitting the first grand slam of the year.
Berggren also hit in both contests for a 19-game hitting streak, the second-longest of his career and the longest on the team in 2011.
The two teams conclude the regular season with a single game on Saturday beginning at noon. They then head to Grand Forks, N.D., and the Great West Conference Championship. Utah Valley will be the top seed, while Northern Colorado will have the two-seed. Last year, the two teams met in the championship game with UVU winning 4-3 in 10 innings.
GAME ONE RECAP
The Bears trailed 15-0 before scoring seven runs in the final three innings to cut the lead in half, but were unable to get any more, falling 16-8. Northern Colorado out-hit Utah Valley for the second-straight game, getting 15 hits compared to 12 for UVU.
Fanning, Berggren and Packard each went 3-for-4 in the game with Berggren tallying four runs on one swing of the bat and he scored three times.
With his four RBI in the game, Berggren moved into the top 10 in career RBI in school history with 128, passing Terry Hensley's (1976-79) total of 126.
Freshman Chris Hammer started on the hill for the Bears, but lasted just one inning. He gave up six runs on five hits with one walk and he plunked two. Senior Josh Boyer threw the next 1.1 frames, surrendering four runs on two hits, with two walks, two hit batters and he struck out one. Freshman Josh Tinnon pitched the next 2.2 innings. He also allowed six runs on five hits with one walk and one strike out. Junior Nate Steinmetz pitched a hitless eighth frame to wrap up the game.
Fanning singled up the middle in the first, but was stranded at first. Utah Valley scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning, on five hits to take the early lead, 4-0.
Packard led off the second with a double to left center, but it was the only hit of the frame for the Bears. The Wolverines added three runs on just one hit in the second inning as Hammer and Boyer each hit two batters.
Utah Valley added eight more runs in the third inning on five hits, with two walks and another hit batsmen to make the score 15-0.
Berggren continued his streak, doubling down the left field line to start the fourth inning. He scored two batters later when junior Casey Coy singled just out of the reach of the third baseman for the Bears first run of the game.
Tinnon retired the side in order in the bottom of the fourth, keeping the Wolverines off the scoreboard for the first time all day.
For the third time in the game, a Bear doubled to start an inning as sophomore Harrison Lambert hit one to centerfield to lead off the fifth. He scored on a groundout double-play after junior Adam Hilker singled. Senior T.J. Berge doubled to right-center for the 51st of his career. Berggren singled past the third baseman and moved to second on the throw in and Berge was able to score when they attempted to throw out Berggren. Packard singled back up the middle to plate Berggren for the third run of the inning and the 15-4 score.
UVU got one run back off a home run by Billy Burgess in the bottom of the fifth for a 16-4 tally.
In the bottom of the sixth, Steinmetz retired the side in order, getting all three hitters to ground out to junior Tony Crudo at third.
In the top of the seventh, Hilker singled just over the short stop's head, Fanning singled back up the middle and Berge walked to load the bases. The Wolverines went to the bullpen, bringing in CJ Healey and Berggren hit the team's first grand slam of the year, clearing the fence in left center. Packard popped up on the infield and all four Wolverines lost it in the sun, giving Packard his third hit of the game. With two outs, Crudo singled past a diving third baseman and a balk put runners on second and third, but the Bears were unable to push any more across the plate, falling 16-8.
GAME TWO RECAP
Packard led all players, going 4-for-5 in the game, while Lambert also went 2-for-4.
Coy threw the first six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out four. Senior Brendan Hall threw 1.2 shutout innings, not allowing a hit and fanning two. Senior Joe Sawicki (4-6) got the third out of the eighth giving up one hit and striking out one to get the win. Junior Cameron Tallman picked up his fourth save of the year, tying for the seventh-most in a single season in school history. He allowed one hit and walked one in the ninth.
Utah Valley hit a pair of solo home runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. Berggren walked to start the second inning. Packard followed with a single past the short stop but was erased on a fielder's choice by senior Marcus Valenzuela. Crudo walked to load the bases and Lambert hit a squib to short to score Berggren to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
Goose Kallunki hit a solo shot to deep left to increase the Wolverines lead back to two in the bottom of the fifth, 3-1.
Berggren hit a screamer back up the middle to start the sixth inning and Packard followed with his second-straight double, this one going to left-center. With two outs, Crudo singled back up the middle to score Berggren and Lambert singled to right-center to knot the score at 3-3.
Hall retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh, getting the offense immediately back to work. Packard hit his third double of the game to start the eighth inning, tying the Northern Colorado single-game record and joining two other current Bears on the list in Berge and Crudo.
Hilker doubled to centerfield in the top of the ninth and scored on a single back up the middle by Fanning, who took advantage of the throw home and scampered to second for the first lead of the game, 4-3.
Willie Pratt singled to start the bottom of the ninth for UVU. He was bunted to second and moved to third on a ground out. Berggren made a diving catch in left field on an Austin Heaps hard struck ball to win the game for the Bears.