Baseball drops tournament opener to Houston Baptist
By HEATHER KENNEDY
OREM, Utah – The Northern Colorado baseball team let opportunities slide by in the opening round of the Great West Conference Tournament, falling 10-3 to Houston Baptist on Tuesday afternoon.
The Bears (25-32) had 15 hits, but plated just three runs, leaving 12 runners on base throughout the game. The Huskies (25-31) scored their 10 runs on 16 hits to advance in the winner's bracket. The Bears also committed an uncharacteristic four errors in the game.
Senior short stop Adam Hilker stretched his hitting streak to a career-best 20 games, going 2-for-5 in the game, while fellow senior Casey Coy extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games after a 2-for-4 day at the plate.
The first eight positions in the batting order were all on base at least twice during the game, but only freshman Ryan Yamane, sophomore Colby Harrison and senior Adrian Schenk scored runs. Harrison also had two of the team's three RBIs after hitting his second home run of the year. Senior Kevin Hurd had the other RBI after hitting a pinch-hit single to left in the seventh inning.
All nine Huskies had at least one hit in the game and both Collin Hetzler and Kolby Arnst had three-hit days.
Senior Joe Willman (5-7) pitched the first inning for the Bears, allowing five runs (one earned) on six hits with no walks and no strikeouts. Sophomore Chris Hammer threw the next 4.1 frames, giving up three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts. Fellow sophomore Josh Tinnon surrendered one run on one hit with one walk and one strikeout in 0.2 innings of work. Kevin Willman pitched 2.2 innings, also allowing one run, though it was unearned, on one hit with one walk and senior Nate Steinmetz recorded the final out in two batters faced.
In the top of the first, Houston Baptist batted around, scoring five runs on six hits and the Bears committed a pair of errors.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Harrison hit his second home run of the season for the Bears first hit of the game. Coy walked after falling behind in the count, 0-2, and Schenk was hit by a pitch but the pair was stranded for the 5-1 score.
Yamane doubled to straight-away centerfield to start the third inning. Hilker followed with a single through the right side and Harrison hit a Texas-leaguer that dropped on the left field line for his second RBI of the game. Coy then singled to center to load the bases. Schenk hit a ground ball to short and Coy was called out for runner's interference on the slide into second base, giving the Huskies a double play and Harrison and Hilker were forced to return to their respective bags. The Bears were unable to capitalize, scoring just one run for the 5-2 tally.
Houston Baptist added to its lead with four runs on four hits in the top of the sixth inning.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Schenk hit a hard-shot drive off the third baseman and Crudo followed with a long fly over the left fielder. Hurd singled to left to plate Schenk to make the score 9-3.
Hurd stayed in and made a great diving catch down the right field line to save an extra base hit to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard in the eighth inning, but they plated one in the ninth for the seven run victory.
The Bears will face the loser of the Utah Valley-NYIT game on Wednesday at 3:30 pm in an elimination game. Northern Colorado swept NYIT during the regular season, but dropped all four games to the Wolverines to conclude the regular season.