Crudo's walk-off liner earns Baseball a Saturday split
By JORDAN FREEMYER
GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado baseball team split a doubleheader with South Dakota State on Saturday, earning an 8-7 walk-off win in the opener at Jackson Field before dropping the second game 7-3.
"We were set in a good position," Crudo said. "We had some of the right guys up, [and] all I was trying to do right there was put a ball in the outfield."
Crudo's single was preceded by walks to freshman left fielder Jensen Park, Yamane and senior shortstop Adam Hilker. The Jackrabbits' pitcher, Shane Kraemer, then hit senior right fielder Adrian Schenk with a pitch, forcing in the tying run.
Crudo took care of the rest for the Bears (7-11).
"This is our second walk-off win of the season," Northern Colorado coach Carl Iwasaki said, "but I told our kids we can't live that way. We've got to establish ourselves early in the game, continue the momentum, keep building on it and put teams away."
The Bears' win came in a small-ball affair, with the teams combining to score 15 runs on just three extra-base hits, all doubles by South Dakota State (6-11-1).
Park and Yamane were the Bears' table-setters, walking and scoring twice apiece in the win, with only Yamane's second run, the game winner, scoring on a hit. Yamane then showed his freshman stripes in the ninth inning of game two, when, with the bases loaded and nobody out, he got caught in a double play, straying too far from first base on a lineout from Hilker.
Senior Adrian Schenk then grounded out to end the game and the day for Northern Colorado.
"They did a good job," Iwasaki said of his two freshmen from Hawai'i. "Sometimes you have to have thick skin as a coach, and take the good with the bad from some of your freshmen. They're  games into a [NCAA] Division I college career. They're learning."
The Bears trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the third in the first game Saturday before Park scored on a balk by SDSU starter Layne Somsen, and Schenk scored Yamane on a well-executed squeeze bunt, giving Northern Colorado a 4-3 lead.
"We can't hit three, four-run home runs with one swing of the bat," Iwasaki said. "We have to ramp that down and go next guy up -- get a single or a double -- and get the next guy up."
The Jackrabbits went back ahead 5-4 in the fourth with an RBI single from designated hitter Phil Paquette. South Dakota State then held a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth when Iwasaki went to his bench, calling on junior Brooks Schneider to pinch hit with runners on second and third and two outs.
Schneider had struggled a bit coming into the game but he made his skipper look smart Saturday, coming through when called upon and lacing a single up the middle. The hit scored both Adrian Schenk and Hilker and tied the game at six, setting up the walk-off win an inning later.
"He had a great week of batting practice," Iwasaki said. "I knew he was going to have a weekend where we would plug him in.
"Kids make coaches look good when you plug him in in a certain situation and he comes through," Iwasaki said.
POSTGAME NOTES (Game 1): The Bears scored twice in the sixth and twice in the eighth for the comeback victory ... Sophomore Chris Hammer earned his second win of the season (2-0) with 1 2/3 innings of relief ... Junior-transfer Jake Johnson started and pitched through the fourth ... Johnson gave up three walks and five runs (two earned) ... There were four HBPs in the game (three for SDSU, one for NC) ... The win was the Bears' first against SDSU at Jackson Field in six tries ... Game three of this four-game series started at 3:05 p.m. MT.
POSTGAME NOTES (Game 2): The Bears loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning, but a double-play lineout from Adam Hilker (Ryan Yamane got caught off the base) stalled their momentum ... Adrian Schenk grounded out to end the game with runners on second and third ... Schenk entered the game hitting an NCAA-leading .500, but went 0-for-6 in the doubleheader ... He'll bring a .450 average into tomorrow's series finale ... Casey Coy started and hit for himself Saturday (six hole) ... He allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and walked three ... He suffered his first loss on the season (0-1) ... Adam Bray (1-2) pitched into the ninth for the Jackrabbits ... He left the game after the first two Bears got on against him in the final inning ... This four-game series will wrap tomorrow at noon at Jackson Field.