Northern Colorado sweeps Billings doubleheader with two walkoffs

Gatorade flowed at Jackson Field after two walk-off wins for the Northern Colorado Owlz on Saturday afternoon.

The Owlz (23-32 overall, 6-4 second half) swept their seven-inning doubleheader against Billings (29-24 overall, 4-6 second half) 3-2, 6-5 to win the series. This is only the second consecutive win since the home game against Rocky Mountain. It was also the first doubleheader sweep of the year.

game 1

The Owlz started the day with another exciting win, their third straight win since the three-game stretch against the Ogden Raptors in mid-June. They defeated the Mustangs 3-2 in the first half of the doubleheader.

For two teams that can field double digits in the hits column, offense wasn’t the star for most of the game.

The first run of Billings came out on top of the first. A two-runner two-out RBI single gave the visitors a one-point lead.

Then the Mustangs added another run in the top of the second. Their leadoff man hit a single to get to base before advancing to second on a wild pitch. A sacrificial groundout propelled the runner into third place, and a single took him home. This gave Billings a 2-0 lead.

Owlz pitcher Preston Snavely and the defense were able to prevent the Mustangs from getting into a rhythm afterwards. Snavely faced seven batsmen from the middle of the third to the middle of the fifth inning without one getting away.

A walk ended that streak, but he responded with three more outs and a walk before being replaced.

As announcer Brendan Price said, the Mustangs “pressed the self-destruct button” in the bottom half of the sixth, allowing the Owlz to get back in the game.

Second baseman Brandon Crosby drew a walk to start things off for the Owlz. He moved up to third with a single from shortstop Kevin Higgins, putting runners in the corners.

Batsman-designate Matt Turner earned a fielder’s pick, but an error allowed Higgins to advance and score Crosby.

Dakota Poham, playing at first base, contributed a sack fly to tie the game at two.

For strategic reasons, two quick pitching changes took place in the top of seventh place. Despite giving up a walk, the Owlz were able to send the Mustangs back to the dugout after a few routine defensive plays.

Left fielder Alex Jackson secured the win with a walk-off solo home run late in the seventh to break the stalemate.

The Owlz finished with five hits, clean and six on base. Her pitching team contributed six strikeouts, four walks, and one wild pitch.

The Mustangs had seven hits, one miss, four strikeouts, three walks and one hit by pitch.

game 2

Home run hitting continued in the second game, with most of the runs between the two teams coming from long ball.

Turner scored the first in the second with a home run solo, but teams went back and forth the entire time.

The Owlz eventually went 4-3 up, again after a Turner solo homer. They took that lead to the top of seventh place.

NoCo’s pitching staff screwed up the save – allowing a two-out, two RBI singles – giving up the 5-4 lead.

But in the end it worked.

First baseman Dakota Popham hit his first home run with the franchise to tie the game by five. Catcher Marshall Rich singled and advanced to second place on a wild pitch. Then center fielder Cameron Phelts’ base hit brought the walk-off run.

Northern Colorado finished the game with nine hits, no penalties and just two stranded runners. Billings also finished with nine hits, but two errors were logged and seven stayed on.

The Owlz pitchers had four strikeouts and three walks, relying heavily on defense on putouts, and the Mustangs had eight strikeouts and two walks.

NoCo will finish his time at Greeley and look to win for a fifth straight game on Sunday. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m Northern Colorado sweeps Billings doubleheader with two walkoffs

James Brien

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