The Bronchos (36-14) went 2-0 in this best-of-three MIAA Tournament series to advance to next weekend’s final four in Springfield, Mo. The Lopers end the year at 30-19.
After dropping Thursday’s game by a 5-4 count, UNK was down 3-1 through 6.2 innings today.
A single by freshman third baseman Brent Kirsch (Papillon-LaVista South H.S.) and a double to left by sophomore second baseman Joey DeSimone (Thornton, Colo.), his first collegiate hit, started the Loper comeback.
Singles from sophomore DH Drew Butler (2 for 4) and junior center fielder Brandon Landanger (3 for 5) tied things up and then junior first baseman Danny Droll (Penrose, Colo.) was plunked to load the bases.
The fourth pitcher of the inning for UCO, senior right hander Mason Justice, got a strikeout to get his club out of the jam. In the Kearney sixth, two runners were left stranded with Landanger being thrown out at home by left fielder Dylan Raper.
The Bronchos left a runner at second in their half of the seventh with freshman shortstop Josh Kiger (Papillion-LaVista South H.S.) drawing a two-out walk in the Loper eighth. Another UCO reliever, senior Landon Hallum, got a fly out to center to move the game along.
UNK senior starter Logan Willard (Eagle Grove, Ia.) retired the first two batters he faced in the Broncho eighth. That brought up Henderson, who stands 6-1 and 230 lbs.
He lifted a ball down the right field line that stayed fair by about seven feet and just cleared the wall. In the bottom of the first, junior first baseman Jake O’Brien (2 for 3) tied the game at one with a shot to deep center.
The Bronchos hit three long balls in this series to have 61 for the season.
Starting shortstop Phillip Wilson, a transfer from Oklahoma State, came on to work the ninth. Also UCO’s closer, he retired the first batter before Butler singled to left. A potential game-ending double play didn’t happen as Landanger beat the throw to first.
However, another fielder’s choice ended UNK’s season.
Willard (6-1) suffered his first and only loss as a Loper. He scattered nine hits and walked two while fanning four.
Hallam, who recorded a save Thursday, earned the win with UCO starter Ricky Reeves allowing three earned in 6.2 innings. He came in with an 8-1 mark and a 1.82 ERA.
Besides Willard, the other seniors on UNK’s roster were pitchers Adam Peters (Lincoln SW), Carlos Palomo (Gering), Drew Posegate (Loveland, Colo.), Mannie Reinsch (Kearney H.S.), Alex Sosa (Miami, Fla.) and outfielder Jayke Brock (Grand Junction, Colo.)
Courtesy of UNK Media Relations