Huskers Win 12-8, Now 7-1 in Big Ten Play
Iowa City, Iowa – The Nebraska baseball team (13-16, 7-1 Big Ten) picked up its sixth straight Big Ten win on Saturday afternoon with a 12-8 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-15, 1-7 Big Ten) to improve to 7-1 in conference play.
The Huskers pounded out 17 hits on the day, as every player in the NU lineup notched at least a hit. Chad Christensen led the way with three hits, while Rich Sanguinetti, Pat Kelly, Kash Kalkowski, Tanner Lubach and Blake Headley each had a pair of hits, with Headley roping two of Nebraska’s five doubles on the day.
Six Huskers produced an RBI, including a career-high four from Pritchard.
With the win, Nebraska picked up its third straight series win on the year, and its fifth straight Big Ten series win dating back to last season. The last time the Huskers won three straight conference series in the same season was in 2008, when they achieved the feat twice throughout the Big 12 Conference slate.
After Nebraska scored eight of its 12 runs with two outs on Friday night, the Huskers plated five two-out runs on Saturday. The Huskers hung three runs in an inning three times on the afternoon.
Husker pitching got off to a rough start, but senior Dylan Vogt closed out the game with a strong performance for this fifth save of the season. Nebraska’s staff allowed eight runs on 11 hits over the first six innings of the game, while Vogt threw 3.0 shutout innings down the stretch, scattering three hits.
Nebraska’s bats banged around Iowa’s starter for the second straight game, as senior Matt Dermody last just 4.0 innings in his 20th career Big Ten start. The 6-5 lefty entered the game with a 5-1 record and a 3.04 ERA, but gave up eight runs (seven earned) on 10 Husker hits. Dermody had given up just 18 runs over his first seven starts of the season.
The back-and-forth game saw the lead change hands five times, but after the Hawkeyes tied the game, 8-8, in the bottom of the sixth, the Huskers scored the final four runs of the game to secure a series win.
Iowa took first lead with a run in the bottom of the first on three-straight singles. With runners on the corners and one down, Lubach caught Jake Yacinich stealing for the second out of the inning, but Nebraska starter Ryan Hander was unable to escape without damage when Trevor Kenyon beat out an infield single that scored Kris Goodman.
The Huskers evened the game and took the lead in the second, taking advantage of two Iowa errors. Christensen led off with single and with Kalkowski up, Christensen moved to third on a wild pitch and a throwing error by Iowa catcher Keith Brand. Christensen then scored on a deep sacrifice fly to left-center field off the bat of Kalkowski. Darby stepped in and hit a ground ball right at Yacinich at short, but the sophomore was unable to gather the ball, resulting in Iowa’s second error by the inning. Lubach made the Hawkeyes pay with his second double of the weekend, as the sophomore blasted a 1-0 pitch from Dermody off the 395 sign in center field.
Hander made quick work of the Hawkeyes in the second and the Husker bats went back to work in the third. Following a pair of singles from Sanguinetti and Kelly, Pritchard grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, but Sanguinetti came into score on the play. Christensen kept the inning going with his second single of the game and Kalkowski followed with a bloop double into shallow right field that put two runners in scoring position for Darby. After Nebraska’s clutch two-out hitting continued with a two-RBI single to right-center field for Darby, pushing NU’s lead to 5-1.
The game went sideways for Hander in the fourth, as the Hawkeyes sent 11 batters to plate and scored five runs on four hits to retake the lead, 6-5. Eric Toole led off with a unconventional double, blasting a liner off of Hander’s leg the ricocheted into right field. Goodman followed with a single and Yacinich laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both his teammates into scoring position. The sacrifice paid off immediately with a two-RBI double from Kenyon, cutting Nebraska’s lead to two, 5-3. Hander then walked Taylor Kaufman and hit a pair of Hawkeyes to force in a run. Hander lasted just one more batter, as Jake Mangler tied the game with a single to shallow center field. Zach Hirsch took the mound with the bases still loaded, and gave up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Nick Roscetti, putting the Hawkeyes ahead, 6-5. Hirsch walked Toole to reload the bases, but retired Goodman on a liner to Kelly at second to end the Hawkeye rally.
Nebraska’s offense answered in the fourth to retake the lead, 8-6, on a double from Pritchard. Peters and Sanguinetti got the inning going with consecutive one-out singles and Kelly followed with a walk to load the bases. Pritchard got ahead in the count, 2-0, and lifted a fly ball into deep left-center field that nearly cleared the wall for Pritchard’s first career home run, but the ball stayed just in the yard for a two-RBI double. Christensen put the Huskers up two, 8-6, with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Yacinich looked to start the Iowa fourth on the right foot with a leadoff single, but was thrown out at second by Christensen, as Yacinich tried to stretch the single into the double. The Iowa shortstop was thrown out by Sanguinetti on Friday night, trying to stretch a double into a triple. Hirsch retired the next two Hawkeyes he faced, including a strikeout of Kaufman to end the fourth.
Hirsch got into a jam in the fifth, when a two-out single and walk loaded the bases for Goodman. With the go-ahead run at first base, Hirsch induced a ground ball to escape the inning without and damage.
Free passes hurt the Huskers in the sixth, helping the Hawkeyes tie the game, 8-8. Hirsch hit the leadoff batter for the second straight inning, the fourth HBP for Iowa in the game, and then gave up a single to Kenyon. Kaufman laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved two Hawkeyes into scoring position, ending Hirsch’s day. Luke Bublitz took the mound and was rudely welcomed by a two-RBI double from Brand. Bublitz bounced back with a strikeout of Taylor Zeutenhorst and following a walk to Mangler, the Husker junior righty struck out Roscetti looking to keep the game tied, 8-8.
Following a Hawkeye rally, the Husker offense again had an answer in the top of the of the seventh. Lubach reached on a one-out single and then scored on a double by Headley, Nebraska’s third two-bagger of the game. Kaufman walked Peters, got Sanguinetti to fly out and walked Kelly with two outs to load the bases for Pritchard. Just like he did in the fourth, Nebraska’s junior designated hitter came through with the bases loaded, as Pritchard lined a single up the middle that drove in two runs, his third and fourth RBIs of the game to put the Huskers ahead, 11-8.
Iowa had the tying run at the plate in the seventh following a pair of one-out singles off Vogt, but the senior righty retried consecutive Hawkeyes to keep the Huskers up three, 11-8, through seven innings.
Nebraska added an insurance run in the eight on another two-out hit. With two down and Kalkowski on second, Headley ripped his second double in two innings, pushing Nebraska’s lead to 12-8.
Vogt sent the Hawkeyes down in order in the eight and retired his sixth and seventh straight Hawkeyes in the ninth before Goodman reached on a two-out single. Iowa got nothing else, as Vogt got Yacinich to groundout to end the ball game.
The Huskers go for their second straight series sweep tomorrow when they meet the Hawkeyes at 1:05 p.m. for the finale of the three-game series. Lane Grindle and Jeff Culhane will have the call across the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com.