Pitchers' duel turns on a dime in Baseball's lopsided loss
By SCOTT WARD
PARK CITY, Utah -- Northern Colorado and Southern Utah started the second game of their series Friday innocently enough. The game was tied 2-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth, and it appeared like a second straight pitchers' duel was in the offing.
Uh … no.
The Thunderbirds scored 13 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning—and the Bears scored nine runs between the sixth and seventh innings—in Southern Utah's 20-11 win at Thunderbird Park.
Northern Colorado (4-8) knocked off Southern Utah (3-14) 3-2 yesterday, and that game saw just one substitution for the Bears, in the field and on the mound.
Friday's contest featured 29 hitters, 36 hits and 11 pitchers used.
He then got the first batter he faced in the fourth to ground out to short before giving up a single, a walk, and a single to Southern Utah's 8-9-1 hitters as it loaded the bases with one out and set the stage for a massive rally.
Cameron Tallman relieved Steinmetz in the fourth, but, as Northern Colorado coach Carl Iwasaki said afterward, there was no stopping the Thunderbirds on this day as they tied the series at 1-1 with tomorrow's rubber game set for 1 p.m.
"We scored those first two runs right away but then kind of went a little silent there for the next four innings," Iwasaki said. "But the bottom of the fourth was the story of the day. We gave up a huge inning there. There was just no stopping these guys—they really swung it. It was a slugfest. We had 18 hits. They had 18 hits. It was just one of those days."
In all, 10 batters got hits for the Bears on Friday.
The pitching—for either team—wasn't as good, but the Bears were done in by a season-high five errors, too.
Chris Hammer, Dan Talley, Jake Johnson and Josh Tinnon followed Steinmetz and Tallman on the mound, but only Tinnon left his appearance unscathed, giving up no hits or walks in two innings. Hammer allowed five runs (one earned), Talley gave up two unearned runs, and Johnson matched Hammer with five runs (one earned) allowed.
Justin Neubauer (2-1) started for the Thunderbirds, and, after allowing two runs in the top of the first, he cruised through four scoreless innings to earn the win.
"I challenged our guys to come out tomorrow and finish the series with a win and another series win," Iwasaki said. "These types of games are never what you want to see, but, baseball doesn't allow you much time to celebrate your wins or much time to get down after losses. We'll come back tomorrow and see if we can put this one behind us."