VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds baseball team swept the first two games of a home-and-home conference series against the Concordia (Ore.) Cavaliers on Friday in Portland, Ore.
UBC is now 29-8 and sits atop the NAIA West standings with a 12-2 league record, a game ahead of 10-2 Lewis-Clark State. Concordia is now 16-19 and 7-7 in conference.
UBC earned both the wins by playing consistently. In Game 1 it was up to the offence, who scored runs in five different innings to earn their 8-2 victory. In Game 2 it was up to Jeremy Newton and the defence, who played a shut out game.
The ‘Birds got on the board first in Game 1, scoring two runs in the opening inning. Two singles left first baseman Bruce Yari (Waterloo, Ont.) at second and third baseman Kevin Biro (Deep Bay, B.C.) at first for catcher Cam Firth (London, Ont.) to drive home on a double.
Their next opportunity to score came in the top of the fifth when right fielder John Whaley (Oakville, Ont.) doubled into the left field. Shortstop Kyle McComb (Surrey, B.C.) laid down a bunt and was able to reach first on a throwing error and advance Whaley to third. Designated hitter Brody Hawkins‘ (Delta, B.C.) reached on a fielder’s choice and allowed Whaley enough time to score.
The fifth was also a lucrative inning for the Cavaliers. Third baseman Ian Erickson singled to center field and advanced to second on a subsequent single. He scored, unearned, on the next at bat due to an error from center fielder Bryan Arthur (Abbotsford, B.C.).
UBC added two more runs in the sixth. After being hit by a pitch, Biro took second on a wild pitch and was advanced to third by Firth’s bunt, good for a single.
Firth then stole second, an error on the throw from the catcher to second allowed Biro to score. Firth ended up at third. Second baseman Justin Orton (Essex, Ont.) was then walked and stole second, followed by Arthur who popped a sacrifice fly to center field to allow Firth to tag and come home.
The ‘Birds earned another pair in the seventh, courtesy of Concordia’s defence. Hawkins led off with a single and later advanced to second on an error from the Cavaliers shortstop Adam Taylor, allowing Biro to reach base. Firth then drew a walk, loading the bases. Orton reached on an error from Concordia’s second baseman, allowing everyone to advance a base, including Hawkins, who crossed home plate. Arthur was then walked, pushing in another run.
The Cavaliers got a run back in their half of the inning to finish the seventh with the visitors ahead 7-2.
Erickson was walked and then tagged out at second on Orton’s fielder’s choice, leaving Konner Reddick at first. Elliot North was hit by a pitch and with first and second base occupied, a single drove home Reddick for their only run of the inning.
Conor Lillis-White (Toronto) pitched a full seven innings, surrendering only two runs and three hits. Tyler Gillies (London, Ont.) relieved him in the eighth, pitching two complete innings and giving up no hits.
Firth rounded out the scoring for the game with a ninth-inning home run over the right field wall for his fourth round-tripper of the season. He finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs batted in.
Game 2 was a battle on the mound. Thunderbird Jeremy Newton (Toronto) threw seven shutout innings and struck out eight batters to earn the victory. He is now 7-2 on the season.
Newton set the tone pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the first, striking out the top of the Cavaliers’ order all swinging.
Newton and Concordia’s Jason Snodgrass kept the game scoreless for five innings.
UBC scored the game’s only run in the top of the sixth. Designated hitter Jerod Bartnik (Surrey, B.C.) singled to right field and stole second base. Yari then grounded out to second base as Bartnik advanced to third. Biro popped up to right field for a sacrifice fly allowing Bartnik to score.
The hosts only got three runners into scoring position the entire game but threatened to level the score at 1-1 in the seventh. Concordia’s Erickson stood on third base with just one out but Newton then struck out Evetts and induced a groundout from Adam Taylor to keep the Cavaliers off the scoreboard.
Thunderbirds pitcher Curtis Taylor (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) entered in the eighth, earning the save. With a runner on third, he struck out Cole Buruse to end the game and preserve the shutout for UBC.
Snodgrass pitched the entire game for Concordia, only allowing three hits in 32 batters faced. He had six strikeouts.
The two teams will hustle to get to Vancouver for tomorrow’s doubleheader at Thunderbird Park. First pitch for Game 3 is set for 12 noon with the conference series final to follow.