Offense comes alive against Seattle
Baseball splits first two games against Seattle University
Nine runs in the final four innings wasn’t enough to complete one comeback, as UNC Baseball lost Friday afternoon 12-14 to Seattle University at Jackson Field.
In what felt like a replay of Friday’s game the Bears were able to complete the comeback on Saturday by beating Seattle 11-10, scoring 10 runs in the 6th and 7th innings.
“We have the offense to come back and win games with 11 runs scored. This team knows they can be really good once we get the pitching nailed down,” said head coach Carl Iwasaki.
UNCs junior ace Aaron Hamilton took the hill on Friday, hoping to shut the Redhawks down and put the Bears in a position to end the four game losing streak.
Seattle got on the board first. Freshman infielder Chase Wells took a 2-0 pitch and smashed it to right center field that just missed being a home run by a few inches. The Redhawks didn’t wait long to cash it in. Senior infielder Griffin Andreychuk blooped a single to right, field giving SU the 1-0 going into the bottom of the third.
After UNC went down in order, Seattle was in position to get a least another run on the board after a walk and stolen base. Freshman infielder Austin Lively who is the Redhawks hottest hitter going into the game was up to bat, looking to deliver. After taking two balls, Lively took a fastball and smoked it down the right field line for a RBI double, giving Seattle the 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth.
As in many of UNC’s games, the bats couldn’t find the zone in the early innings. The Beas had only one hit in the first four inning, but in the bottom of the fifth they started to get the bats going.
A home run and a fielder’s choice in the top of the fifth gave Seattle a 4-0 lead. After back-to-back singles from freshman Matt Burkart and junior Payton Tapia, UNC went the small ball approach and used the bunt with no outs to put both runners in scoring position. Sophomore Tyler Yamaguchi hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring UNC’s first run. The Bears weren’t done though. Senior Nick Tanner hit a rope down the left field lin, scoring Tapia. That was then followed by a single up the middle by junior Evan Johnson. The momentum was turning in the Bears favor, going into the sixth only being down 4-3.
The joy was short lived for the Bears. After giving up four runs in the fifth, UNC’s ace was done for the day. Senior Jacob Howard took the bump hoping to stop the bleeding, but he couldn’t stop the Redhawks, bats either. In just 30 pitches, Howard gave up four runs while only facing five batters. The ball was then handed to freshman Billy Moreland, who on his third pitch gave up a home run to left field. Five total runs in the inning pushed Seattle’s lead to 5, 9-3.
With two outs and Junior Brett Minnick on first after walking, Tapia took the 1-2 pitch over the left field wall. It was Tapias second homerun of the season and cut the Seattle lead to 4, going into the final three innings.
Both team’s bats were on fire in the 7th, SU scored four more runs off five hits, while UNC scored three runs of four hits and running Seattle starter Jake Prizina off the mound. Still down five runs with only six outs to work with, UNC’s dugout was still full of life and excitement as if they were up 14-8 instead of being down.
The Bears surrendered another home run in the eighth, pushing the deficit to six. The rally caps were on and it paid off for the Bears. UNC scored four runs off four hits in the bottom of the eighth, cutting the lead down to two going into the last frame.
The Rally was almost complete. Leadoff hitter Tapia grounded out to third base which was followed by a double by junior Alex Kiel. With two outs to work with and a runner already in scoring position, the Bears had a chance to cut the lead to just one, but the Redhawks shut the door on their chances, forcing the final two batters into a line out and a fly out to end the game.
On Saturday, the Bears fell behind again early letting the Redhawks build a 6-1 lead over the first five innings.
The momentum swung heavily in UNC’s favor in the sixth inning as the Bears fired off four runs.
It all started with junior Brett Minnick who homered to left center scorig two.
Tapia and Burkart eventually scored on a single up the middle from Yamaguchi.
In the top of the seventh the Redhawks managed to kill some of the momentum scoring one runner before leaving a man on second.
Down 5-7, the Bears hitters kept their rally caps on by putting seven its on th board in the inning, including a double from Burkart that scored one and put Minnick back on third base and tied the game at 7-7.
Four more runs in the inning put the Bears up 11-7 and that was enough as the defense held up to take game two 11-10.
"My heart rate is fine according to my heart doctor, so I am able to survive these games. I told the guys before the game we are who we are,” Iwasaki said. “We are a gritty, hard playing team that will not quit. We still have to work on putting up zeros after we score runs in an inning.”
The Bears finished up the series Sunday afternoon and takes on the Air Force Academy at 2pm on Tuesday as they continue their five game homestand.
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