Baseball's early lead doesn't hold in finale loss to Cougars
By SCOTT WARD
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Northern Colorado held a lead into the fifth inning Sunday against Washington State but couldn't make it hold in a 7-3 series-finale loss at Bailey-Brayton Field.
The Bears scored twice in the second inning and led 3-2 going into the fifth after Adrian Schenk and Ryan Yamane connected for single RBIs in the second and Adam Hilker shot a single up the middle for another RBI in the fourth.
At that point Northern Colorado (1-6) had tallied six hits and three runs against the Pac-12 Cougars and was in a position to steal a three-game, early-season road series.
The Cougars (7-3) put three runs on the board in the fifth inning, though, and got single runs in the seventh and eighth, while stranding 10 Northern Colorado runners on base, as they made their comeback.
The Bears will travel back to Greeley today and then get ready for a three-game series with Nebraska-Omaha on Friday and Saturday at Jackson Field.
"We're feeling pretty good as a team," Northern Colorado coach Carl Iwasaki said, "but we've got a lot of things to work on. We'll get back to Greeley and get better and prepare ourselves. We've got five weeks to go before [Great West Conference] play, and our goal is to get better every game and every week."
Freshman Eian Raeber started on the mound for Northern Colorado, but that was in title only. The Bears used a getaway-day, bullpen approach in the game and got effective, if not solid, performances from five pitchers.
Raeber allowed no hits in 1 2/3 innings but walked a pair and allowed a run. Cameron Tallman, Dan Talley (0-1), Kevin Willman and Chris Hammer then combined for 6 1/3 innings of relief, giving up six runs with four strikeouts and just one walk.
Talley pitched a clean fourth inning—he worked around a two-out triple to left-center without allowing any damage—but he didn't record an out in the fifth and was credited with the loss after three of his batters in that fifth eventually came around to score.
Willman, a junior, relieved Talley and lasted through the eighth, allowing just one run in his three innings.
"We were pretty pleased to see our mix of bullpen people give up only one earned run late in the game," Iwasaki said. "We gave up those three runs early, and that's what you can't do. That where we couldn't' recover from.
"We competed very well, I felt. We've just got to continue to clean up the areas that let games get away from us."
"Park had a pretty good game at the lead-off spot," Iwasaki said, "and Yamane had a good day, too—just one hit but two walks and an RBI, and he had a chance to drive in a number of runs. We left 10 on base, so that's the story of the game."
Taylor Anderson started Northern Colorado's second inning with a 3-1 single to right, and Lambert followed with an infield single and Dylan Banach was hit by a pitch to give the Bears a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation early in the game.
Schenk then lifted a 1-1 pitch deep enough to left field to score Anderson, and, after Park was also a pitch, loading the bases again, Yamane got his RBI with a bases-loaded walk that pushed Lambert home.
Park then hit a two-out double to left-center field in the fourth inning and scored two batters later with Hilker's sharp single up the middle.
That's all the Bears offense was able to muster, though, and, on this day, it wasn't enough as Washington State, which played in an NCAA Regional two years ago, won for the sixth time in seven games.
"All in all, over the weekend, we had many opportunities to capitalize on, and that's what we have to do going forward next week," Iwasaki said. "We had a good win yesterday, and we want to build on that going into this next weekend."