April 29, 2014

Baseball grounds Air Force in home victory

By PARKER COTTON

UNCBears.com

GREELEY – A far cry from previous games with Air Force, Northern Colorado and the Falcons battled to their lowest-scoring meeting of the year Tuesday in a 6-2 victory for the Bears.

Northern Colorado's (7-37) pitchers were effective all game, allowing Air Force (15-29) to score only single runs in the first and third innings and giving up only four hits all game, including just one in the final six innings. Josh Tinnon (Niwot) started the game and pitched two innings, giving up two hits and one run while striking out two in two innings.

Chris Hammer (Greeley) pitched an inning and gave up a run, but from then on, the bullpen was almost perfect. Kevin Willman (Aurora) pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings while surrendering only two walks, and Nick Tanner (Foothill Ranch, Calif.), who started the game as the designated hitter, worked the final 3 2/3 while only giving up one hit.

"It's good that we're getting Kevin back down the stretch here, and he looked great today, giving us a chance in the middle innings there and getting us out of a nice jam," head coach Carl Iwasaki said. "Nick Tanner has been looking good. He pitched last week at Air Force and had two clean innings. On the road at Utah Valley, he had some good opportunities to shut an inning down. He's going to be a good player."

The Bears scratched out six hits of their own, but that turned out to be plenty. Northern Colorado took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first behind center fielder Jensen Park's (Kaneohe, Hawaii) double to right-center field that scored second baseman Landon Moseley (Lawrence, Kan.) from first. First baseman Nick Miller (Loveland) then singled up the middle to score Park.

After shortstop Ryan Yamane (Honolulu) drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run, Miller added a bases-clearing double to put the Bears up 6-1. The Falcons got a run back in the third on a fielder's choice groundout to complete the scoring.

"We talk about timely hits, and Nick Miller had a timely hit today," Iwasaki said. "We don't need 11 hits. We had 11 hits (Friday at Utah Valley) and we scored four runs. The timely hits need to come. Nick Miller had a timely hit. Jensen Park had a timely hit today. We just need to generate those more frequently when runners are on base."

Park finished a home run shy of the cycle as he went 3-for-4 at the plate with that first-inning double, a fourth-inning triple and a single in the sixth inning. Miller went 2-for-4 at the dish with 4 RBIs and Moseley added a hit with two runs scored.

The Bears return to WAC play this weekend as they host Cal State-Bakersfield for a three-game set, highlighted by Saturday's alumni day.

"There will be teammates of mine, teammates of Patrick Perry, teammates of Adam Hilker, so there will be about four generations of men here," Iwasaki said. "They'll be here to keep alive the spirit and the rich tradition of our program."

The Bears begin the series with CSUB at 3 p.m. Friday at Jackson Field. First pitch for Saturday and Sunday is slated for noon.