Errors costly in doubleheader for baseball in New Jersey
NEWARK, N.J. – Northern Colorado dropped both games of a doubleheader that was pushed back over two hours at NJIT on Friday. The Bears (9-16, 0-3 Great West) lost game one 8-2 in seven innings and dropped the second nine-inning affair 11-4.
The twin bill was about 10 minutes from starting when an irrigation pipe near shortstop opened on its own, flooding most of the dirt on the left side of the infield and requiring extensive maintenance to make the field playable. The pipe was open less than two minutes, but the damage delayed the scheduled 1 pm start all the way until 3:30 pm.
The two teams conclude their four-game series on Saturday. Game time has been moved up one hour and will start at 11 am (Eastern), 9 am (Mountain).
In the first game, neither team broke onto the scoreboard until the fifth inning, when the Highlanders plated three on four hits, with three going for extra bases. NJIT added five in the sixth inning as the Bears committed two errors to add with the five hits.
In the seventh inning, the Bears tried to rally back, scoring two, but during Great West Conference play, the first game of the doubleheader is always a seven-inning affair and the team didn't have another chance at the plate.
With two outs in the seventh, senior Casey Coy hit a double to right field to score Dylan Banach, who had reached earlier in the inning on a fielder's choice. Senior Adam Hilker singled and Coy pushed it and was able to score on an error at short stop for the team's two runs in the game.
Sophomore Chris Hammer was on the hill for 5.2 innings for the Bears, giving up seven runs, just three earned, on 10 hits. He did not walk a single batter and struck out six. Senior Cameron Tallman threw in relief for the second-straight game, pitching 0.1 inning and gave up one run on two hits.
Coy had two of the team's five hits in the opener, while Hilker, Harrison Lambert and Banach had the other three.
The Highlanders scored in five of their eight at bats in the second game and once again the Bears were forced to play from behind most of the contest.
NJIT scored two in the second on two hits, but the inning ended as Jeff Peterson tried to steal second base and Lambert gunned him down.
This time, the Bears immediately answered, scoring one in the top of the third. Jensen Park singled to start things off. With two outs, Coy was hit by a pitch and Hilker followed with a single to score Park.
In the bottom of the third, the Highlanders were able to score four runs on five hits. NJIT started the inning with four straight hits, three being singles as the team was aggressive and two of the hits came on the first pitch they saw.
The Bears got one back in the fourth as senior Tony Crudo walked to start the inning, stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Park got his second single of the game, plating Crudo for a 6-2 score.
NJIT added two more runs each in the sixth and seventh innings and one in the eighth to extend the lead to 11-2.
The Bears again attempted to rally in their last at bat, but scored just twice for the 11-4 final.
Lambert was extremely patient at the plate, walking on seven pitches. Bryan Tibbitts pinch hit for Park and came through with a double to right field. Ferguson followed with a single to score Lambert. Banach sacrificed himself with a fly to right field to score Park, but a double play ended the contest.
Senior Joe Willman allowed eight runs on nine hits, six being earned as he fell to 2-5 on the year in 5.1 innings of work. Once again, he didn't allow any free passes, walking none and he struck out three. Younger brother Kevin Willman finished the sixth inning, giving up two runs on one hit. Dan Talley threw the final two innings, allowing one run on one hit.
Both Hilker and Park had two hits in the night cap and Hilker reached base three times as he was hit by a pitch in the first inning.
In the three-game series thus far, the starting pitching has yet to walk a batter and the trio have combined to strike out 20. Errors in the field have hurt the Bears as only 14 of the Highlanders 26 runs in the series are earned.
Notes: All three of senior Casey Coy's hits in the two games were doubles… Coy now leads the team with eight on the year and brings his career total to 31, which moves him into the top 20 in school history, tied for 19th… Coy is second amongst active players on the team with his 31 career doubles as senior Tony Crudo ranks fifth with 40… For the second time this season, the Bears starting pitchers have gone three-straight games without walking a batter. Senior Nate Steinmetz did not give up any free bases in the first game of the series, while sophomore Chris Hammer didn't walk any in the first game this morning and senior Joe Willman went 5.1 frames without allowing a walk.... The trio didn't walk any batters in back-to-back-to-back games as Steinmetz (3.1 innings), Hammer (3.2) and Willman (4.0) did so against Nebraska-Omaha and Southern Utah on March 10 in a doubleheader and 15, respectively… Coy is currently on a nine-game hitting streak, just one game shy of tying his career record of 10-straight games… The longest hitting streak of the season for the Bears is 13 by Adam Hilker, which is also a career-best for the senior.