Battening the hatches   Leave a comment

Earnest Collins Jr. may be new to the Big Sky scene, but the rookie UNC head coach spoke of the conference’s powerful reputation like a veteran Tuesday.
Addressing the media on the Big Sky preseason coaches’ conference call, Collins had high praise for a league that features the defending FCS national champion (Eastern Washington) and a third of college football maven Phil Steele’s 2011 FCS preseason top 12 (EWU, Montana State, Sacramento State and Montana).
“Everyone talks about the SEC being the toughest conference in the FBS,” said Collins, who comes to Greeley after two years as head coach at Alcorn State. “I really believe the Big Sky is the toughest conference in the FCS. It’s going to be interesting and fun to play these schools and see what this conference is all about.”

Posted August 9, 2011 by Ken Pomponio in Football

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At a loss   Leave a comment

The Bears are not even through the first week of camp, and bad news has already arrived in Greeley.
Jace Davis, UNC’s leading receiver a year ago and a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection, has been ruled academically ineligible.
As a sophomore last season, Davis emerged as UNC’s top offensive weapon, catching 53 passes for 992 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a big-play threat, averaging 18.7 yards per reception, and he finished second in the conference with an average of 90.2 receiving yards per game.
Davis was one of three UNC first-team All-Big Sky selections but was the only one scheduled to return.

Posted August 7, 2011 by Ken Pomponio in Football

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Camp kicking off   Leave a comment

The dog days of summer are most definitely here, meaning it can only be time for college football camps to open.
Northern Colorado, under the guidance of new coach Earnest Collins Jr., kicks off its preseason workouts Thursday in Greeley. Players are due back on campus Wednesday for meetings.
As usual, not much is expected of the Bears, who are picked eighth in the nine-team Big Sky Conference in both the preseason coaches and media polls.
Only Idaho State is picked to finish lower, while defending national champion Eastern Washington tops both polls.
UNC has 14 starters returning (6 offense, 5 defense 3 specialists) from Scott Downing’s 3-8 squad of a year ago, but overall, the Bears are searching for their first winning season since 2003.
The team’s first major scrimmage of camp is scheduled Aug. 13, and classes begin Aug. 22.
The Bears open the season Sept. 3 at home against NAIA Lindenwood University.

Posted August 1, 2011 by Ken Pomponio in Football

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Over and out   Leave a comment

After an opening-round upset loss, the UNC Bears were left with no margin for error in the Great West Conference Tournament loser’s bracket.
That margin was crossed Thursday in a 4-3, 10-inning loss to the New York Institute of Technology in Grand Forks, N.D. UNC finishes the season — coach Carl Iwasaki’s first — with a 24-32 record.
The teams entered the 10th tied at 2, but after second-seeded UNC scored a run in the top of the inning, fourth-seeded NYIT came back with two off reliever Brendan Hall for the win.
Junior Adam Hilker, senior Bret Fanning and junior pitcher Casey Coy each had two hits for UC, with Fanning and Coy driving in runs.
Coy had a career-high six strikeouts with six in eight innings, and junior Cameron Tallman pitched a scoreless ninth.

Tight tourney   Leave a comment

After falling victim to an opening-round upset Tuesday in the Great West Conference Tournament in Grand, Forks, N.D., second-seeded UNC survived an elimination game Wednesday, holding off sixth-seeded Texas-Pan American, 7-5.
The Bears, now 24-31 overall, face fourth-seeded New York Institute of Technology at 4 p.m. Thursday in another loser’s bracket contest. The Bears split their four road games against NYIT in the regular season.
NYIT (18-31), opened tourney play with a 3-2 win over fifth-seeded New Jersey Institute of Technology on Tuesday, before falling to top-seeded Utah Valley, 5-3, on Wednesday.
UNC, which fell to seventh-seeded North Dakota, 5-1, in the opening round, got four RBIs from junior All-GWC outfielder Jarod Berggren to beat UTPA. All-GWC second-teamer Ben Packard had two hits and a pair of RBIs, while Adam Hilker and Bret Fanning scored a pair of runs apiece.
Joe Sawicki, a second-team All-GWC selection, got the win, allowing five runs and 10 hits in 8.1 innings. He struck out four and walked one.
Cameron Tallman struck out the final two UTPA batters to notch the save.

On a roll   Leave a comment

The University of Northern Colorado baseball team finally was slowed Sunday, and it took some heavy rains in the Chicago area to do it.
The final two games of the Bears’ four-game series against Chicago State were washed out Sunday, leaving UNC’s Great West Conference win streak at 14 and its overall run of success at 10 straight games.
After 7-3 and 14-2 wins over the Cougars this weekend, the Bears now stand at 22-27 overall and 18-4 in the GWC. That sets up a regular-season ending series showdown at Utah Valley, which leads the conference at 19-1 and 27-20 overall. The four-game set is scheduled to begin Thursday.
UNC entered the Chicago State series off four-game series sweeps of Texas-Pan American, New Jersey Institute of Technology and North Dakota, and the Bears picked right up where they left off with a 7-3 win on Friday. Juniors Adam Hilker and Ben Packard had a pair of RBIs apiece, while Joe Willman nad his younger brother Kevin were in control on the mound, limiting the Cougars to three runs and seven hits over nine innings.
On Saturday, Hilker and senior Marcus Valenzuela had three hits apiece to pace a 14-hit UNC attack in a 14-2, seven-inning romp. Hilker had three RBIs, while Valenzuela scored four runs.
Junior Jarod Berggren had a pair of hits to extend his hitting streak to 16 games.
Freshman starter Chris Hammer and senior Josh Boyer combined to hold Chicago State to a pair of runs on three hits over seven innings.

Arms flex   Leave a comment

The UNC baseball Bears have notched back-to-back four-game weekend series sweeps, and the latest came on the strength of some dominant pitching performances.
In last Friday’s 7-3 opening win against the New Jersey Institute of Technology at Jackson Field, Joe Willman, Brendan Hall, Kevin Willman and Cameron Tallman combined to fan 16 Highlanders, breaking the previous UNC single-game record of 14 Ks.
On Saturday, the Bears posted 6-4 and 4-0 wins at Jackson. The second game marked UNC’s first shutout of the season as starter Joe Sawicki, Hall and Tallman combined to blank the Highlanders over nine innings.
On Sunday, UNC senior starter Chris Carlberg capped the impressive weekend by recording his first career complete game in the Bears’ 12-2 run-rule win. Carlberg allowed only one earned run and five hits in seven innings while striking out five. It was UNC’s sixth complete game of the season.
UNC (16-27) now sits in second place in the Great West Conference at 12-4. Utah Valley leads the way at 11-1, and Houston Baptist is a pair of games behind the Bears at 10-6.
The GWC stats are starting to reflect UNC’s strong play as the Bears rank second in the league with a 3.53 earned-run average, second in runs scored (118) and fourth in team batting average (.320).
This weekend, the Bears will be looking to add to their eight-game winning streak as they the host their third straight four-game series. The opponent this week is North Dakota, which brings a 6-23 overall record and a 4-8 GWC mark to Greeley.
Game times are set for 3 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday in the Bears regular-season home finale.

Cleaning up   Leave a comment

Northern Colorado was sorry to see Texas-Pan American leave town on Sunday.
The Bears continued their dominance of the Broncs, sweeping the four-game Easter Weekend series with 11-6, 5-2, 5-1 and 14-4 wins at Jackson Field. UNC now has won nine straight and is 16-3 all-time against UTPA.
It was a needed jolt of confidence for the Bears, who entered the series with an 8-26 overall record. Now they find themselves in the thick of the Great West Conference chase, tied with with Houston Baptist for second at 8-4 in the league. Utah Valley leads the way at 8-1.
The Broncs entered the series with the GWC’s top ERA, but the Bears simply feasted on UTPA pitching, hitting .371 over the four games with four home runs and 35 runs scored.
Junior outfielder Jarod Berggren led the onslaught, hitting .500 in the series with four of his eight hits going for extra bases. He drove in five runs in UNC”s 14-4 win Sunday, including a three-run homer in the fifth inning.
Not surprisingly, Berggren has since been named the GWC Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks.
Junior infielder Adam Hilker also enjoyed a productive Easter, going 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.
On the mound, UNC pitchers surrendered only 13 runs in the series while striking out 21 and walking only 10. Junior Casey Coy notched the win Sunday, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings of work.
Not to be undone by the Bears’ bats and arms, UNC played some solid defense, committing only two errors in the four games.
Now the Bears have to come up with an encore.
The Bears are back at Jackson this week for a four-game series against New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Highlanders are bringing a 11-25 overall record and a 4-8 GWC mark to Greeley after splitting a four-game home series against Houston Baptist last weekend.
Game times at Jackson Field are 3 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

Posted April 29, 2011 by Ken Pomponio in Baseball

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Home at last   Leave a comment

Greeley rarely has looked so good.
After playing 16 of its past 17 games on the road, the UNC baseball squad will be back at Jackson Field this weekend for its Great West Conference home series opener.
Texas Pan-American (16-13, 6-2 GWC), is in town for four games, starting with today’s 3 p.m. contest. A doubleheader is set for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, while Sunday’s series finale has been moved up to 10:30 a.m. to accommodate the Broncos’ travel plans.
The series actually is the start of 13 straight at home for Carl Iwasaki’s Bears (8-26, 4-4 GWC), who are coming off a 6-5 road win over Air Force on Tuesday.
Last weekend, UNC split a four-game road series against Houston Baptist. UNC won the first two, 7-5 and 4-1, but the hosts came back with 4-3 and 5-4 victories.
Senior Joe Sawicki complete-game, eight-inning win on Saturday earned him GWC Pitcher of the Week honors. He struck out six and allowed the one earned run.
The Bears have dominated the Broncs, holding a 12-3 all-time series lead, including a 5-0 mark last season. That included a 10-0 win in the GWC Tournament.

Posted April 21, 2011 by Ken Pomponio in Baseball

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Spring wrap   Leave a comment

Even though you won’t find any record of it in the Big Sky Conference standings, the first official game of the Earnest Collins Jr. Era is in the books.
UNC’s Blue squad prevailed, 21-20, last Saturday in the Bears’ annual spring game when the White failed to convert a two-point conversion in the final minute.
For the most part, it was a day for the defense at Nottingham Field. The Bears notched 13 total sacks in the game, led by senior-to-be VJ Holmes with four for the White team, while redshirt-freshman Sawyere Monson had three for the Blue. The defense also snared four interceptions.
Offensively, sophomore Seth Lobato put up the best numbers of the five quarterbacks who played for both sides, completing a combined 12-of-20 passes for 203 yards and two TDs. Returning starter Dylan Orms was 5-for-9 for 75 yards and TD but also was picked off twice.
The top targets were redshirt-freshman Marcel Peoples (13 catches for 143 yards) and junior Chris Morris (10 for 115 and a TD).
On the ground, junior David Dean led the way with 73 yards a TD on 16 carries.
“I thought the kids showed up for the last spring practice,” Collins said. “For the fans it’s a game, but for us it’s just the last practice. The kids did well. It was difficult for us to run a full offense and full defense since we split the teams. I thought the spring went well, and we didn’t get anyone hurt too badly.”
In a little more than four months, the games will count as Collins and his Bears open Sept. 3 at home against Lindenwood University.