NEWARK, N.J.- North Dakota scored five in the sixth inning en route to an 11-3 win over top-seed Northern Colorado Wednesday in a winner's bracket game at the Great West Conference Tournament. UND (25-20-1) will now advance to play the winner of tonight's Texas-Pan American/Houston Baptist tilt in the semifinals.
"I thought our pitching staff was really good today and the hero of the game today was Brock Johnson," UND head coach Jeff Dodson said. "We had some timely hits and took advantage of a couple mistakes and anytime you are playing a team as good as Northern Colorado you have to make sure you capitalize anytime you get a chance."
UND starter Alex Twenge allowed just a pair of hits but had to get out of mulitple jams in the first few innings. He left the bases loaded in the first and stranded two more in each of the next two frames as UND clinged to an early 2-0 lead.
North Dakota scored one more in the fourth and another in the fifth, all unearned, to grab a 4-0 lead. After Twenge saw a pair of runners reach via error then walked two batters in the fifth, he gave way to Johnson who inherited a bases-loaded mess with two down and a 4-1 UND lead.
Johnson (2-0) mowed down the batter on three straight pitches to end the threat and then the floodgates opened. UND scored five times in the sixth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate in a frame that saw four different UNC pitchers. A leadoff walk by Patrick Vandoorne followed by a Tyler Follis single and an error plated the first run. Zack Trygstad drove in one with a sacrifice fly followed by three straight walks for another UND run. The rally would be capped by Patrick Riewer's two-run single up-the-middle for a 9-1 North Dakota advantage.
Johnson made that hold up. He retired the side in order in the sixth, then shrugged off leadoff runners in the next two innings. UNC scored in each of those frames, but each time Johnson was able to escape without further damage.
In the ninth, an error, a hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Reid Jungling then came on from the UND bullpen and got the final two outs to end it.
The entire lineup produced for UND as eight of the nine starters scored a run and the RBIs came from seven different batters. Jeff Campbell had three more hits to lead the offense while Follis scored three runs.
UND will play third-seeded Houston Baptist, who defeated second-seed Texas-Pan American 3-1 on Wednesday, in a Thursday 5:00 p.m. Central semifinal.
Notes: North Dakota has now its first two games in the last three Great West Conference Tournaments ... Eighth-seeded Chicago State bounced three-time defending champion Utah Valley with a 3-2 win in the opener of Wednesday's action ... Follis extended his reached-base streak to a season-long 20 straight.