Hilker's walk-off single caps Baseball's dramatic comeback
By JORDAN FREEMYER
GREELEY -- Northern Colorado shortstop Adam Hilker provided the final twist Saturday in a topsy-turvy series finale between the Bears and Nebraska-Omaha at Jackson Field.
The senior dropped a bases-loaded walk-off RBI single into right field in the second game of a doubleheader and scored left fielder Eric Ferguson to give the Bears a come-from-behind 13-12 victory.
"I was just looking for a pitch up in the zone I could drive to the outfield," said Hilker, who's hit was his fifth of the three-game series and gave Northern Colorado (3-7) its first series win of the season. "I saw that [the Mavericks] brought in one of their outfielders, so they had five infielders, and that left right field wide open."
The Bears trailed 11-9 going into the final two innings but scored three in the bottom of the eighth to take a 12-11 lead and, after UNO (3-12) scored one in the top of the ninth, got the late heroics.
Hilker is batting .486 through 10 games this season and helped his team overcome an 8-1 loss in the first game Saturday.
Northern Colroado coach Carl Iwasaki said he had confidence that Hilker, his team's captain, would come through in the clutch situation.
"I just turned my back and walked up the first base line and said, 'This is our game,'" Iwasaki said.
Senior right fielder Adrian Schenk led the Bears' 13-run outburst for Northern Colorado, going 5-for-5 with three runs scored and five RBIs.
He finished a double short of the cycle, but hit his first home run of the season, a long blast to right-center in the seventh inning.
"I haven't had many [home runs] here," Schenk said. "It's good to put the team in position to get some runs."
Added Iwasaki: "I'm real proud of that kid. He's going to find out how good he is at baseball, and he showed a little bit to his teammates today."
The Mavericks got on the board first when catcher Colby McCord scored on a wild pitch by Bears starting pitcher Chris Hammer in the top of the first. They made it 4-0 in the second thanks to a sacrifice fly by shortstop Brady Hohl and a two-run double by McCord.
Northern Colorado tied the game in the third as Hilker led off the inning with a triple and was driven home by Schenk's infield single.
Nebraska-Omaha took a 9-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth when Banach delivered a two-run double -- his second of three doubles on the day -- to cut the lead to 9-7.
"We go down four runs, and we could've had any reason to give up, but we keep fighting back and the game's not over 'til it's over," Banach said.
The Bears trailed 11-8 at the seventh-inning stretch but clawed back and took the lead thanks to Schenk's homer and that three-run eighth inning, capped by a two-run triple from Schenk that gave UNC a 12-11 lead.
"We're not going to quit, this is a resilient team," Iwasaki said.
After the Mavericks tied the game in the ninth they loaded the bases with just one out and Iwasaki called on relief pitcher Dan Talley, who, three pitches later, snatched McCord's shot through the middle and started a pitcher-to-catcher-to-first inning-ending double play.
That set up the Bears' and Hilker's late-game drama.
"I wasn't expecting it to go 1-2-3," Iwasaki said. "I was figuring a ground ball, 4-6-3, but that's exciting."