Fresno, Calif. – Jordan Ribera’s two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth capped a four-run inning, giving Fresno State an improbable 7-5 victory over Nebraska Friday in the season opener for both teams.
The Bulldogs trailed 5-3 before scoring four times in the ninth off of reliever Mike Nesseth (0-1), getting a two-run double from Brennan Gowens before Ribera sent Nesseth’s next offering over the fence in right center for the game winner.
One-out walks to Garrett Weber and Danny Muno started the uprising before a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Nesseth struck out Dusty Robinson for the second out, but could not finish the save, as Gowens sent a 2-2 pitch into the gap in left center.
It was just the fifth time in the last eight years that Nebraska took a lead into the ninth and didn’t win.
“Our pitching was very good against a very good hitting team until the end,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “We have to finish. That is the bottom line. It is game one and there is a lot of season left. We will get better, but I thought that Jordan (Roualdes) and Casey (Hauptman) did a great job for us.”
Ribera went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, while Bobby Coyle and Gowens drove in two runs apiece, as the Huskers held the Bulldog offense in check for the first 8.2 innings.
DJ Belfonte had three hits in a losing effort, while Kyle Bubak drove in a pair of runs, as the Huskers jumped to a four-run lead against WAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year Derek Benny.
The Huskers showed good patience in the top of the second, scoring all four of their runs with two outs, highlighted by a two-run single from Bubak. Cory Burleson started the rally, as he fouled off three pitches before coaxing a nine-pitch walk from Benny before Kale Kiser was hit by a pitch. Boomer Collins walked to load the bases before Belfonte lined a 2-1 pitch into right to put the Huskers on the board. Benny uncorked a wild pitch to plate Kiser before Bubak cleared the bases with a single to center, spotting the visitors a 4-0 lead.
Collins drew a career three walks, as the top two and bottom two spots in the order produced all five of the Huskers’ hits
The Huskers’ four-run cushion would be short lived, as Fresno sliced the lead in half in the bottom of the second on a two-run homer by Bobby Coyle. Trent Garrison drew a one-out walk from NU starter Sean Yost before Coyle launched homer to right center two batters later.
Fresno State trimmed the Husker lead to 4-3 in the fifth on an RBI single by Robinson, but Roualdes and Hauptman allowed just three hits over 4.1 innings of relief heading to the ninth.
The Huskers stretched the lead to 5-3 in the ninth, as Collins walked to open the frame before he eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The two teams will continue the series Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. (central). Michael Mariot takes the hill for the Huskers.