Baseball to Play Three-Game Set at Texas A&M This Weekend

Bears and Aggies meeting for the first time ever on the baseball diamond.

Junior Brennan Garr made his return from an off-season injury against Air Force last week in Pueblo.

Junior Brennan Garr made his return from an off-season injury against Air Force last week in Pueblo.

Feb. 15, 2006

Texas A&M Game Notes in PDF Format
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University of Northern Colorado Bears (2-2)
vs. Texas A&M University Aggies (4-0)
Friday, February 17, 2006 * 2:00 p.m. MT
Saturday, February 18, 2006 * 1:00 p.m. MT
Sunday, February 19, 2006 * 12:00 p.m. MT
College Station, Texas * Olsen Field (7,053)

The Series: First meeting.

The Coaches: Kevin Smallcomb is 87-80 (.521) in his fourth year at Northern Colorado and 337-227 (.598) in his 15th year as a collegiate head coach.

Rob Childress is 4-0 (1.000) in his first season as Texas A&M and overall as a head coach.

Radio: none

Livestats: Gametracker live stats available through links at UNCBears.com.

GAME INFORMATION
After nearly 10 days away from game competition, the University of Northern Colorado baseball team returns to action this weekend when they travel to Texas A&M for a three-game set with the Aggies.

The meeting is the first in school history between the squads.

THE BEAR FACTS
Northern Colorado evened its record on the season with a 13-5 blasting of in-state rival Air Force last Wednesday afternoon.

In that contest, Northern Colorado jumped out to a 8-0 lead, thanks in-part to a six-run fourth inning that was highlighted by redshirt freshman Kevin Sandberg's first career home run. Starter Chris Johns had one bad inning (he allowed five runs in the fifth) but pitched well the rest of the way to earn his first victory. Johns and relievers Eric Maydew and Brennan Garr combined to hold Air Force to only five total hits (which came in three total innings).

In the game, freshman Jeff Horn, making his first career start, was 3-for-5 after being hitless in 12 prior career at bats.

The Texas A&M series will mark the last road games of the early season before the Bears get to play a home game, as they host Air Force on Feb. 21. That is the team's lone game until April 4.

OPPONENT INFORMATION

Texas A&M: The Aggies have started the season with a perfect 4-0 mark after a three-game sweep over Northwestern State and a road victory over in-state rival Sam Houston State. Texas A&M was picked to finish seventh in the tough Big 12 Conference in a preseason vote. Jose Salazar is hitting .556 (5-of-9) after four games while the A&M pitching staff has a combined 2.03 ERA so far this season. The pitcher the Bears will see on Sunday, Austin Creps, threw seven innings and allowed only three hits and one run in his season debut. Texas A&M is receiving votes in the most recent RosenblattReport.com poll.

Series History: This weekend's series will be the first between the teams.

THE BEAR NECCESSITIES
If you don't have time to read everything in this packet, these are the key notes about the Bears.
Northern Colorado started the season by going 1-2 at the Texas-Pan American Classic in Edinburg, Texas; the Bears lost to host UTPA, beat Lamar and lost to Gonzaga in the three day event ... last week the Bears played only once, topping in-state rival Air Force 13-5 at a neutral site game in Pueblo; the Bears have won 14 of its last 16 against the Falcons and will host Air Force next Tuesday in the home opener ... Air Force and UNC will meet six times this season, the same number of times they met last season (when the Bears won five of the six meetings) ... junior closer Brennan Garr missed the first three games of the season due to an off-season injury, but returned to strike out the side in the ninth inning in the Bears win over Air Force; Garr hit 94 on the radar gun in his first live action since the summer ... the Bears had back-to-back quality pitching performances from Chris Johns (7 innings, 1 run) and Seth Gilleland (6.1 innings, 2 runs, got the win) to start the season ... Johns, who got a no-decision in his first game, was the winning pitcher against Air Force, notching his first victory in a UNC uniform.

NORTHERN COLORADO NOTES

Horn Of Plenty: Sophomore Jeff Horn made the most of his first career start on Feb. 8 against Air Force. Horn entered the game 0-for-12 in 19 prior career games at the plate. He doubled in his first at-bat of the day on his way to a 3-for-5 performance and also drove in a pair of runs in the game. Horn was not in the original starting lineup but was a late addition due to sickness by usual starter Chad Clark.

Bears and Falcons Play First of Six This Season: Northern Colorado and Air Force met for the first of six times this season on Feb. 8 in Pueblo at Runyon Field. The Bears came out of top 13-5 thanks in-part to a six-run fourth inning that got the offense started. The win was the fourth in a row and 14th of 16 in the series over the Falcons. The two teams will next meet on Feb. 21 in Greeley.

Pitching Reinforcements: The Bears have struggled pitching wise in recent years, especially in the starters role. Under head coach Kevin Smallcomb, the Bears have had a team ERA that is above 7.00. But in the off-season, the team made a conscious effort to improve its pitching. Joining returner Tyler Pearson in the starting rotation this season is Chris Johns (a transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette), Seth Gilleland (a transfer from Lamar Community College), Eric Maydew (a transfer from Seward Community College) and Jason Banks (a transfer from Hutchinson Community College, who will most likely redshirt this season). The pitchers made an immediate impact in the season's opening weekend, as Johns allowed only one run in seven innings and Gilleland allowed two runs in 6.1 innings of work.

Garr Returns to Lineup: The Bears top returning player, INF/RHP Brennan Garr missed all three games at Texas-Pan American Classic (Feb. 3-5) due to an injury he suffered in the off-season. Garr, who did not participate in team drills in the fall, did return to the lineup on Feb. 8 against Air Force, entering the game to pitch the ninth inning. Although it was not a save situation Garr, the program's single-season saves leader, struck out the side and hit 94 on the radar gun. Garr, who led the team in hitting a year ago, should return to the batting lineup at Texas A&M, most likely playing DH.

Garr on 2006 Wallace Award Watch List: Junior INF/RHP Brennan Garr is one of 120 Division I baseball players currently on the 2006 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List. The award, given by the College Baseball Foundation, is given annually to the nation's best collegiate baseball player (Nebraska's Alex Gordon won the award last season). As a sophomore in 2005, Garr led the Northern Colorado team in hitting (.365) while adding 66 hits, 11 doubles, eight home runs and 36 RBI in 51 games. He was also the Bears closer, matching the school record for saves in a single-season (7) while compiling a 3.78 ERA and 3-1 overall record. The Wallace Watch will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May. Then the selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals at a press conference in Omaha. The finalists, their head coaches, and their parents will be invited to Lubbock, Texas, for a schedule of special events tied to the award banquet, which will again be nationally televised by Fox Sports Network. The award is dedicated to the memory of former Texas Tech shortstop and assistant coach Brooks Wallace, who was a slick-fielding shortstop at Texas Tech from 1977 to 1980. In the summer of 1984 he was diagnosed with cancer and fought the disease courageously until his death on March 24, 1985, at age 27. The selection committee for the Wallace Award is comprised of a national panel of preeminent coaches, sports information directors, former winners and beat media who most closely follow the sport. Screening Committee members will evaluate the candidates and will continue their review throughout the entire baseball season. The list will expand and contract during the regular season and additional Wallace Watch candidates may be added as the season progresses. Voting for the three finalists and the Wallace Award winner will be conducted by confidential balloting, with totals tabulated by the J.W.Anderson & Associates accounting firm in Lubbock, Texas.

Home Sweet Home: Northern Colorado was 13-8 at home last season (including winning 13 of their final 18) after compiling a 15-6 at home in 2004. Entering the year, they have won 28 of 41 and 47 of its last 62 games at Jackson Field dating back to 2003. The Bears held a 23-6 overall record at home and a 12-0 regular season mark against NCC teams in 2003, Coach Smallcomb's first at Northern Colorado (the Bears also posted a 14-game winning streak at Jackson Field and a 17-game winning streak against NCC schools). The Bears open the 2006 home season by hosting in-state rival Air Force on Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.

Garr Saves the Day: Junior Brennan Garr did more than just hit last season (he led the team with a .365 average). When not playing third or DH, Garr is the Bears closer, as he recorded seven saves in 2005, tops among D-I Independent players (he was the runner-up for the D-I Independent Player of the Year award). The seventh save came on May 20 against South Dakota State, as Garr tied the school's single-season record (shared with Josh Durant - 1999). Entering the season, he is now only one save away from the career mark, which is eight held Greg Cook (1972-74). In the batters box, he finished 2005 by hitting safely in 28 of 31 games overall and had 19 multi-hit games (including 11 multi-hit games in his last 21 overall contests).

Pearson Has Breakout Season: Junior Tyler Pearson had a breakout season in 2005, entering the Bears starting rotation and showing impressive control. On March 27 of last year (at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), he tossed the team's first complete game in 366 days and repeated the feat the next time out in a win at Southern Utah. During the year he had a stretch of 111 batters (26.2 innings) where he did not issue a walk. Pearson finished the year 6-3 and led the team in wins, innings pitched (78) and strikeouts (52). He made 20 appearances (three more than he made in 2004) which ranked him second in a single-season in school history, one off the record. He now has 38 career appearances, only six away from joining the school's top-10 list.

SEASON NOTES

A Strong Tradition: With the move back to Division I, the Northern Colorado baseball program is no stranger to success at that level. The Bears have appeared in 10 Division I College World Series, including nine from 1952-1962. From 1957-62 the Bears made six consecutive appearances, the second longest streak in CWS history (trailing only seven straight from 1981-87 by Oklahoma State). The Bears were last in the CWS in the 1974 season. UNC has appeared at the CWS in 1952, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1974.

Bears Sign Two During Early Signing Period: Northern Colorado signed two players during November's early signing period, Seth Loman (Colo. Springs, Colo./Lamar CC) and Sean Peery (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Hutchinson CC). Loman (6'4, 220 lbs.) is a switch-hitting first baseman who is in his second year at Lamar Community College. Last season he played with current Northern Colorado pitcher Seth Gilleland. Loman helped lead the Running Lopes to a 51-11 record and an Empire Conference Championship while leading the team with 12 home runs and 62 RBIs; overall, he hit.372 in 61 games. After his stellar season at Lamar, where he was a first-team all-region selection, Loman was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 47th round (pick No. 1414) of last June's First-Year Player Draft. He attended Doherty High School and spent his freshman season at the University of Arkansas, where he redshirted. His father, Doug, played for two years (1984-85) with the Milwaukee Brewers. Peery (6'3, 215 lbs.) is a right-handed pitcher who has spent the last two years at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he a teammate of current Bear pitcher Jason Banks. Last season, Peery helped lead his team to the Junior College World Series as he tossed 23 innings for the Dragons, compiling a 2-0 record and 3.96 E.R.A. During the year, Peery fired one complete game shutout and struck out 17 batters while walking just eight. Hutchinson finished the year 37-20 overall, won the regional championship and advanced to their first-ever NJCAA World Series. Peery pitched the final 7 1/3 innings of the regional championship game, allowing five hits and two runs in picking up the victory. He attended Highlands Ranch High School.

Johns Named to UTPA All-Tournament Team: Bears senior pitcher Chris Johns was named to the All-Tournament team at the Texas-Pan American Classic. Against host Texas-Pan American on Feb. 3, Johns pitched seven innings, allowing six hits and only one earned run while striking out five and walking only one of the 26 batters he faced. Johns left the game with the contest tied 1-1, although the Bears would allow the winning run to cross the plate in the bottom of the ninth. The Bears finished the event by beating Lamar and falling to Gonzaga.

A New Spot for Ray: Catcher John Ray experienced a first in his collegiate career on Feb. 4 vs. Lamar at the Texas-Pan American Classic. Due to an injury to Brennan Garr, Ray moved to third base for the afternoon (he finished the game at first base), marking the first time in his career at Northern Colorado that he did not catch or play designated hitter. Ray started 47 games at catcher as a sophomore and seven contests at designated hitter.

Bears and Gonzaga Meet For First Time Since 1978: When the Bears met Gonzaga (Feb. 5) at the UTPA Classic, it was the first meeting between the teams since playing in the 1978 season. It was only the second meeting between the teams since the 1974 District 7 Playoffs, which were held in Greeley. The Bears won that meeting and advanced to play No. 1 Arizona for the right to play in the College World Series (which they also won and advanced to their 10th CWS). Gonzaga got the best of the Bears in 2006, however, winning 12-5 after scoring seven unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 5-5 tie.

A Lamar Connection: Northern Colorado has made the most of its connections with Lamar Community College, one of the top JUCO baseball programs in the state and region. Currently five players on the UNC roster have played at Lamar, including Roy Allen, Brad Beaman, Seth Gilleland, Chris Johns and Seth Tartler.

Bears Played 18 Games Against NCAA Tournament Teams Last Season: The Bears won 22 games last season and played against a very tough schedule, as they played 18 games against six teams that made the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Those teams were: Arizona, Arkansas, Creighton, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wichita State. The Bears were only 1-17 in those games (an 8-5 victory over Wichita State being the lone win).

Bears Return Three Players From 2005 D-I All-Independent Team: Northern Colorado returns three (of its five total) players who were named to the 2005 Division I All-Independent team. Those players include first-team selections Brennan Garr (INF/RHP) and John Ray (C) and second-team pick Tyler Pearson (RHP). The Bears did lose a pair of their All-Independent picks from last year, as 1B Phil Delich (1st team) and DH Jarrod Chacon (honorable mention) graduated.

Bears Win 2005 D-I Independent Invitational: With wins over South Dakota State (5-3), Utah Valley State (11-4) and NYIT (8-3) to end last season, Northern Colorado claimed the championship at the 2005 Division I Independent Invitational, after finishing third in 2004. The Bears hosted the event for the second season in a row (NYIT won in 2004). This season the event switches venues, this time to Sioux Falls Stadium in Sioux Falls, S.D. where South Dakota State will host the event.

Draftable: Two current Bears players have been drafted in Major League Baseball's Amateur Draft, but each chose to attend college instead. Senior Brad Beaman was selected in the 42nd round (pick No. 1254) of the 2002 draft by the Anaheim Angels and John Ray was selected in the 41st round (No. 1236) of the 2003 draft by the Atlanta Braves.

Three Bears Playing In the Minor Leagues: There are currently three former Northern Colorado players playing professional baseball in the minor leagues. Patrick Perry, the 2004 Division I Independent Player of the Year, was selected in the 7th round of the 2004 First-Year Player draft by the Boston Red Sox (making him the highest draft pick in 18 years for the Bears program - since former Bear and current Nebraska head coach Mike Anderson was selected No. 207 overall in 1986). Perry led all of Division I in batting (.478) and slugging (.844) in 2004 and set school records for RBI (74), doubles (27), and total bases (157) and ranked second in a season in each hits (89) and slugging (.844). Perry has played with the Lowell Spinners and last season with the Greenville Bombers (now known as the Greenville Drive). Trevor Allen, who earned All-American honors in 2003, was not selected in the draft, but signed a free agent contract with the Colorado Rockies organization in 2004. He ended last season with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League. That is the same league that Perry is also currently playing in. The other player currently playing minor league baseball is Curt Borland, who will start the season with the Rockford Riverhawks, an independent team.

Forbes Going Strong: One of the most inspirational stories with the Bears program is hitting coach Chris Forbes. Besides being an outstanding coach (he helped the Bears hitters rank third in Division I in batting in 2004), as a cancer survivor he has been an inspiration off the diamond. Forbes was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and is now in remission. He is active with both the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society and in summer 2004 he was part of the Climb 4 Hope team that trekked up Mt. McKinley to raise funding and awareness for Leukemia research. Forbes was nominated for the 2004 Lance Armstrong Foundation's Spirit of Survivorship Award. The award recognizes a cancer survivor who demonstrates a resilient attitude toward his or her illness and inspires others to live life to the fullest. Although he did not win, he did attend the LiveSTRONG Gala in New York City in October.

Division I Independents: This season (for the third straight year), 13 NCAA Division I Independent baseball teams have joined forces to award Player of the Week awards and compile individual and team statistics. The teams are Cal Davis, Dallas Baptist, Hawaii-Hilo, IPFW, Longwood, New York Tech, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, Savannah State, South Dakota State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley State. Awards and statistics will be released on each Tuesday of the season beginning February 28. An index of award winners and other information on D-I Independent baseball can be found at: http://uncbears.collegesports.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/012606aab.html.

Bears Radio Network: This season you can hear a majority of the Northern Colorado baseball schedule on the Bears' Radio Network. Newstalk 1310 KFKA in Greeley is the flagship station and KFKA's Troy Coverdale, Chris Ott or Clark Johnson will have the call all season long with a pre-game show starting 15 minutes before the first-pitch. If you are outside the Greeley area you can access all the games online through UNCBears.com (see the Events section at the bottom of the main page) or directly log into http://www.1310kfka.com. A full list of games that will be broadcast is available at UNCBears.com.

The Move to Division I: The 2005-06 sports season marks year No. 3 in the "reclassification" process to Division I for the Bears. On May 10, 2002 the UNC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a move for the Northern Colorado intercollegiate athletics program to NCAA Division I. The 2002-03 sports year marked the last season for the Bears in the North Central Conference and the NCAA Division II level and was an "exploratory" year in the move. 2003-04 was the first season of the four-year reclassification period and last season (2004-05) marked year No. 2. The program officially becomes a Division I school (and eligible for NCAA Championships) in 2007-08. The rest of the department will become an official member of the Big Sky Conference in 2006-07, but the Big Sky does not sponsor baseball. The baseball program will continue to search for conference affiliation.

Northern Colorado Coaches Radio Show Now on Wednesday: Fans came now attend the Coors Light Northern Colorado Coaches Show each Wednesday afternoon at Noon at Old Chicago (2349 W. 29th St.). The event, which used to be on Monday's, is open to the public and the cost of lunch is only $7, as fans hear about the happenings of UNC Athletics from in-season coaches. KFKA's Troy Coverdale serves as host and the show airs on tape-delay on Newstalk 1310 KFKA at 7 p.m. that night.

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