The NAIA University of British Columbia Thunderbirds have been making an annual trip to Seattle to play the Huskies since 2002. UBC has usually had five or six Division I teams on their schedule, but this year, due to the late February start of the D-I schedule, this was the only D-I game that could be arranged.
The Thunderbirds’ only win against the Huskies came in 2006, the year that the Birds made their only trip to the NAIA baseball national championship. They were on the losing end of a four-game sweep against the #2-ranked and defending NAIA national champion Lewis-Clark State last weekend, but the Birds generally played well against the Warriors. UBC outfielder Matt Chester was injured during the Lewis-Clark State series, and the Thunderbirds currently have two other key players unavailable due to injuries, outfielders Mike Styrna and Nic Lendvoy. The 14-4 win for the Huskies wasn’t a surprise.
The Huskies classify the game as an exhibition, which gives them a mid-season chance to give some playing time to players in need of it. On this occasion, they sat out two of their top hitters, Bradley Boyer and Ty Rasmussen, and Brian Pearl, who is hitting .320, appeared only on the mound.
The start for the Huskies went to Jason Erickson, who is coming off an injury. Erickson went three innings, and gave up only one hit, a home run by senior RF Fletcher Vynne in the top of the first. Erickson will probably get a start at USC this weekend.
The Huskies responded with seven runs in the bottom of the first off Thunderbird starter Scott Webster. Webster was chased with two more runs in the second, and a home run by Pierce Rankin in the third. He left the game with two outs and two on base, but Mark Hardy, making his first relief appearance of the season, struck out CF/LF Brendan Gardner-Young to avoid further damage.
Hardy ended up retiring all four batters that he faced. He was followed by Eric Brown, who pitched a perfect inning, Kurtis Schumacher, who gave up one hit. The Huskies got a two-RBI single from DH Brett Wilcox in the seventh, and a three-run home run by 3B Jarett Jackson in the eighth.
Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds didn’t collect their second hit until the fifth inning. 2B Alex White got it, and he came home on a sacrifice fly by SS Sammie Starr. Their remaining two hits came in the top of the eighth, on a hit by Vynne and a two-RBI double by 1B Ryan Pilgrim. Any comeback hopes the Thunderbirds had were erased by Brian Pearl, who came on in the top of the ninth, and struck out the side.
Because this was an exhibition game for the Huskies, Erickson did not get statistical credit for the win, and Rankin and Jackson did not get credit for the home runs.
During the second rain delay of the game, Vynne, in the role of “Upside Down Man”, got a good round of applause from the crowd. “Upside Down Man” has become a tradition during rain delays at UBC home games. It isn’t possible to verbally describe this character, but when I can get my hands on a picture of him, it will be posed to CBB.
I picked up a major piece of news from taking to UDub Director of Communications Jeff Bechtold. As part of their move back to Division I, Seattle University is bring back baseball as a varsity sport. They just posted a position for a baseball coach, and you can view it by clicking here.
Story from Washington site: Dawgs Pound UBC, 14-4, In Exhibition