GRAND FORKS, N.D. - North Dakota senior Kyle Bolander (Hermantown, Minn.) had two hits and three RBI and freshman Brett DeGagne' (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) pitched 5.1 innings of scorless relief in a 4-2 victory in the night cap of a doubleheader with Northern Colorado Saturday at Kraft Field.
After falling 13-3 in the opener, the Fighting Sioux (9-28, 3-12 GWC) responded with their fifth win in six games to defeat the Bears (18-24, 8-7 GWC) and take a 2-1 series lead into Sunday's finale.
"We got pounded pretty good in game one, then bounced back and won a great ball game," UND head coach Jeff Dodson said. "I told the guys after the (second) game I was proud of them for never letting anything phase them. Now, let's keep this up and try to get a conference series win tomorrow."
Game one - NC 13, UND 3 (Seven innings)
Northern Colorado first baseman Colby Harrison was the offensive catalyst for the Bears in game one, going 4-for-5 with a home run and a career-high six RBI in the 10-run victory. Harrison had eight RBI coming into the contest.
After UND starter Tyler Ruemmele retired the first two Bears he faced, shortstop Adam Wilker started what would turn into a big two-out rally with a double to right field. Ruemmele would hit the next two NC batters before three consecutive hits put six runs on the board for the visitors.
Leftfielder Jensen Park got just enough of a fastball to push it through the middle to score the first two runs and first baseman Colby Harrison capped the scoring with a three-run homer, which was his first long ball of the season.
Freshman Jeff Campbell (Clearwater, Fla.) got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first when he belted his eighth home run of the season to right field. It was the third straight game Campbell sent one out of the park, but the Sioux offense could never gain any traction off NC starter Chris Hammer.
Harrison and company would strike for two more runs in the third to push the Bears' lead to 8-1 as he singled home the first run of the frame with a single.
Hammer did not allow a base runner after Campbell's home run until the Sioux first baseman reached on an error in the fourth. He would score the second run of the game on a RBI-single by Sam Alt (Lino Lakes, Minn.), but the Sioux would leave the bases loaded to leave their deficit at six.
Hammer, who improved to 5-1, would end up going the distance to pick up the win as his offense built a 13-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh. The Sioux loaded the bases with nobody out in the frame, but could only muster one run. The NC right-hander scattered seven hits and struck out seven UND hitters in his third complete game of the season.
Alt was the only Sioux player with multiple hits in the opener, going 2-for-4 at the plate. Campbell and freshman Tyler Follis (Bemidji, Minn.) did extend their season-long hitting streaks to 14 and 12 games, respectively.
Harrison capped the scoring with a two-run double in the seventh. Park and third baseman Tony Crudo added two hits and two RBI a piece in the victory.
Game two - UND 4, NC 2
The Sioux overcame another shaky start in game two to respond with a 4-2 victory in the night cap and set themselves up for a chance to win their first Great West series of the season. Five of the six runs in the game were scored in a wild first inning as the Sioux answered the Bears' two runs with three of their own.
UND starter Ben Clark (White Bear Lake, Minn.) limited the visitor's damage to just a pair of runs after four of the first five batters reached base. This time the Sioux had an answer for Northern Colorado's early success as Bolander came through with a big two-out, two-run double off starter Joe Willman.
Bolander's double tied the game and his alert base running on an infield single by Alt would end up providing the game-winning run. Alt's chopper was fielded by Harrison at first base, but Willman could not find the bag on the relay throw allowing Bolander to race all the way home from second to give UND a 3-2 cushion.
Clark would settle down after the first, allowing only one more hit before he was removed with two outs in the fourth inning. That is when DeGagne' entered the game with a pair of runners on base, but the right-hander only needed one pitch to get Casey Coy to fly out to end the threat.
Bolander came through again driving in what would be the final run of the contest with a RBI single in the third inning after Campbell walked to lead off the frame.
With UND leading 4-2, Willman and DeGagne' locked themselves into a pitcher's duel. Both hurlers escaped potential trouble in the seventh when the opposing offenses loaded the bases.
DeGagne' allowed three hits and hit a batter in the seventh, but his defense turned a double play and he induced an inning-ending groundball to keep the Sioux in front by two runs.
"Brett threw fabulous today," Dodson said. "When he is on, he is really, really good and today was one of those days."
Willman had retired 10 straight entering the bottom of the seventh after a leadoff single from Alex Twenge (Minnetonka, Minn.) in the fourth. Junior Riley Beck (Munich, N.D.) would break that streak with an infield single and advance to third on a wild pitch and an errant throw on a pickoff attempt.
But after two walks loaded the bases, the left-hander would get two strikeouts to keep his team down by only two tallies.
The Bears threatened again in the eighth, getting two runners on base, but DeGagne' struck out Adam Hilker looking to end that frame. He then pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth to register his first collegiate win.
UND will go for the series win on Sunday as the Sioux wrap up the four-game series with the Bears at Noon.
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