T-Birds streak comes to an end splitting series with the Owls
By Jeff Sargeant
UBC Sports Media
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (28-12, 18-9) saw their seven-game win streak come to a halt with a pair of losses Sunday afternoon to the Oregon Tech Owls (18-27, 13-17) at Thunderbird Park.
The ‘Birds built up a 4-0 lead through six innings in the first half of the double header only to surrender a handful of runs for a 5-4 loss. UBC then ran into some hot pitching in the series finale falling 3-1.
“They came up with a big hit twice and we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to score,” said UBC head coach Chris Pritchett.
“We didn’t keep putting pressure on them so our opportunities were limited. It’s tough to be consistent when you’re looking at two out hits to try to score runs.”
After three scoreless innings to open up the day, Mitch Robinson blasted the ball over the left field fence for a lead off solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, his fourth long ball of the season to get the ‘Birds on the board. Robinson’s homer seemed to ignite UBC’s bats as Tyler Yorko stepped up and singled to centre before stealing a pair of bases. John Whaley singled to bring Yorko home giving the T-Birds a 2-0 lead. Justin Orton then hit the gap in centre field for an RBI double.
The ‘Birds added to their lead in the sixth when Brendan Rose drove in Whaley from second.
The Owls got on the board in the top of the seventh when Naz Thibodeaux tripled all the way to the left-centre field fence that got Louis Wolf across the plate. Thibodeaux then scored on an Austin Zavala single up the middle with two out.
OIT made it a one run game in the eighth as Michael Kilpatrick scored from third on a ground out play. Pat van den Brink entered the game with one down and the tying run on third but got Alex Poltz to ground out struck out Thibodeaux to get out of the inning still with the lead.
But that lead didn’t last for much longer as the Owls went ahead in the top of the ninth. With two men on, Zavala tripled to deep right-centre field driving in the tying and go-ahead runs.
The ‘Birds mounted a comeback attempt in the bottom of the ninth and managed to get the tying run to third but Adam Kandra got Yorko to strike out to end the game. Kandra entered the game in the bottom of the fifth for the Owls and picked up the win. UBC starter Tyler Gillies went seven innings strong striking out seven batters allowing two runs on seven hits in the no decision.
“We got a little comfortable when it was 4-0, and then they kept scrapping and fighting and you could see their grit and determination,” said Pritchett shortly after the final out.
“They came out and wanted it a little more today, they hustled.”
The Owls started the series finale where they left off the previous game opening scoring in the second inning. With runners on first and second, Tristan Shea singled to centre field scoring Matthew Del Fante.
The ‘Birds tied the game at one in the bottom of the fourth with a perfectly placed hit by catcher Braeden Allemann, direct to the gap in left-centre field scoring Nick Spillman from second.
Oregon Tech re-took the lead in the top of the eighth when Zavala hit a two RBI double down the left field line as the Owls went ahead for good.
Offence was at a premium in the final regular season meeting between the ‘Birds and Owls with each team managing just four hits. OIT’s Avery Wood pitched a complete game for the win while Christian Botnik was tagged with the loss for UBC. Starter Brad Smith was lifted after three innings while Botnik pitched the next five allowing two runs on just a single hit.
The Owls victories earn them the season series victory over UBC while Oregon Tech head coach Matt Miles picked up his 200th career NAIA win in the process.
The T-Birds travel to Caldwell, Idaho next weekend for their final series of the season taking on the College of Idaho ‘Yotes for a four game series plus the completion of their Vancouver series finale which was suspended due to rain last month.
“We’re in a good position, we’re still not where we want to be yet but we’re working on it,” said Pritchett.
“There are signs that we’re really happy with but we need to eliminate some mistakes and clean up some sloppiness to be successful to go where we want to go and we’ll get that done.”
UBC will be back at Thunderbird Park the following weekend to host the NAIA West Grouping championship tournament with a chance to advance to the NAIA post-season.