Lopers thinking offensively to begin season
The UNK baseball team was scoreless for the first five innings of their season, but has since erupted for 52 runs over 39 innings. Their offensive output has resulted in a 4-2 start to their 2011 campaign.
In their opening series, the Lopers won three out of four games against in-state rival Wayne State. The Lopers trailed the first game 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth, when they tallied four runs to take the lead. UNK shut the door on Wayne in the seventh with the help of a double play by senior third baseman Luke Valerius that sealed the win.
In game two, the Lopers were ahead from start to finish, winning 14-8 while collecting 17 hits.
“The good thing about having a big group of seniors is they know how to compete and come from behind. They didn’t quit and didn’t try to do too much,” head coach Damon Day said.
Redshirt senior Brandon Buchanan (shortstop) and senior Brian Chritz (centerfield) led the way in game two. Chritz finished 2-5 with a homerun, double, four RBI’s and three runs scored. Buchanan, who missed all of last year with an ankle injury, was solid in the field turning a key double play in the fifth inning that prevented Wayne from taking their first lead. Buchanan was also a force at the plate, going 4 for 4 with three doubles, three runs and one RBI.
“It was great just to be out playing again and being productive and helping the team win,” Buchanan said.
The Lopers fought from behind again in game three, trailing 7-2 after three and a half innings. Over the next two innings the Lopers scored eight runs on nine hits to take a 10-7 lead with the help of senior first basemen Andrew Haake and Valerius, who each claimed three RBIs.
Wayne State fought back to tie the game before the Lopers scored two more in the sixth to a 12-10 victory on 15 hits. In game four, the Lopers trailed most of the way and lost 9-4.
This past Saturday, the Lopers traveled to Chanute, Kan., to play Missouri Western State in a double header. In a matchup of pitching aces, senior Todd Stachura had the upper hand in a 4-2 Loper’s victory. In the second game, a slugfest developed as the score was knotted at four after three innings of play. The Lopers slugged their way to six runs in the fifth to take a 10-4 lead. However, Missouri Western came right back to retake the lead at 15-10 over their next three at bats. The Lopers responded by cutting the lead down to one in the seventh, but could never catch up and lost 17-16. The Lopers collected 20 hits compared to their opponents 24 in a contest that lasted over four hours.
“Anytime you hit like that and score 16 runs you feel like you should have won, but we feel good about our hitting and with improve defense I know we’ll be a tough team to beat,” Day said.
The Lopers take their hot bats to Lincoln on Wednesday for a matchup against the Huskers, and then start a four game series against Colorado Christian University at home on Friday. The series against CCU will mark the beginning of conference play.