Pinch-Hit Homer Dooms Huskers
Fullerton, Calif. - The Nebraska baseball team (0-2, 0-0 Big Ten) took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning against the No. 22 Cal State Fullerton Titans on Saturday afternoon at Goodwin Field, but a two-run pinch-hit homer from Anthony Hutting in the bottom of the seventh propelled the Titans to a 10-5 win.
Chad Christensen produced three hits, including a triple, for the second straight game and drove in a pair of runs for the Huskers.
NU starter Ryan Hander gave the Huskers 5.1 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks, while striking out one. Grahamm Wiest was tough on the Huskers with seven strikeouts over seven innings, but the Huskers did tag the Fullerton righty for three runs, all earned, on eight hits over 6.0 innings.
Hander cruised through the first and started the second with a pop out, but hit Michael Lorenzen, who then stole second to get in scoring position with one out. Hander was in position to get out of the inning without any damage with runners on first and third following a two-out walk to Matt Orloff and No. 9 hitter Jared Deacon up, but the Titans' catcher produced a two-out single to plate the game's first run. Leadoff hitter Richy Pedroza followed with an RBI-single to give Fullerton a 2-0 lead, before Hander put an end to the threat when he got Carlos Lopez to groundout.
Hander responded in the bottom of the third with a 1-2-3 inning and the Husker offense broke through in the top of the fourth to get on the board. After being held hitless through the first three innings, Rich Sanguinetti lead off with a triple to right field and scored on a base hit from Christensen. Wiest settled back in an retired three straight Huskers to end the top of the fourth.
Fullerton got the run back right away in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff homerun off the bat of Lorenzen. The Titans got a base runner when Orloff reached on a one-out HBP, but he was erased trying to steal second on NU catcher Tanner Lubach. Hander retired Deacon to end the fourth with no other damage done.
The bottom of the Husker order put pressure on Wiest with a pair of one-out singles from Lubach and Jake Placzek, but the righty responded with consecutive strikeouts to end the NU threat.
Following a shutout by Hander in the bottom of the fifth, NU's offense cashed in two runs off of four hits in the top of the sixth to even the game at 3-3. Christensen and Pat Kelly started the sixth with consecutive singles, but Christensen was thrown out at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Blake Headley. Josh Scheffert stepped to the plate and executed a full-count hit-and-run and score Kelly and move Headley to third. The NU offense kept the pressure up with perfectly placed bunt from Austin Darby down the first-base line that not only scored Headley to tie the game, but Darby also reached on the play. NU kept the heat on with a successful double steal to put runners on second and third with one out, but Wiest retired Lubach and Placzek in order to end the inning.
The Titans retook the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Lorenzen came around to score following an error on Placzek at short. Hander then walked Clay Williamson to put runners on first and second, which forced Head Coach Darin Erstad to bring in Michael Hoppes for his Husker debut. The Scottsbluff, Neb., native retired Orloff for out No. 2, but then gave up a two-out single to Deacon that scored Lorenzen, giving Fullerton the lead again, 4-3. Hoppes dug in and got Pedroza to fly out to end the inning.
Fullerton Head Coach Rick Vanderhook brought in Kyle Murray to start the seventh and Kash Kalkowski welcomed him with a double. Following a strikeout, Christensen picked up his third hit of the day with a triple down the leftfield line to again tie the game, 4-4. Kelly kept the runs coming with a single that drove in Christensen to give the Huskers their first lead of the day, 5-4. Vanderhook then went to Yutan, Neb., native Tyler Peitzmeier, who gave up an infield single to Headley, but was thrown out at second when Headley tried to take an extra base when the ball got away from Lopez at first base. Peitzmeier got Scheffert to fly out to end the inning.
Hoppes retired the first Titan he faced in the bottom of the seventh, but then gave up four straight hits, including Hutting's pinch-hit two-run homerun. The Titans added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth off NU reliever Tyler King to take a 10-5 lead into the ninth inning.
Game two of today's double header is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CT).