Huskers Drop Slugfest, 10-8
Manhattan, Kan. – The Nebraska baseball team (8-15) outhit the Kansas State Wildcats (17-8) on Tuesday night at Tointon Stadium, 14-13, but the Wildcats came out ahead on the scoreboard, 10-8. The Huskers entered the ninth inning down four runs, 10-6, and had the go-ahead run at the plate in Austin Darby, but Tanner Witt was able to stop the sophomore lefty from picking up his fourth hit of the night to secure the win, as Darby flew out to center field to end the game.
Darby led the Huskers at the plate with a 3-for-6 night, including a three-run home run and a double. Four other Huskers produced two hits each, while Pat Kelly, Michael Pritchard and Wes Edrington also doubled.
Kansas State leadoff man Ross Kivett feasted on Husker pitching, as he was 3-for-4 with five RBIs on a double and a triple.
Each team used eight pitchers on the night, with freshman Colton Howell taking the loss and Levi MaVorhis picking up the win.
Nebraska’s offense struck first in the second inning with a pair of runs on a pair of two-out hits. The Huskers were primed for a big inning when KSU starter Jake Doller walked the first two batters he faced, but the Wildcats took back the momentum when Doller struck out Tanner Lubach looking after he failed to get down a sacrifice bunt and then picked off Kash Kalkowski at second base. Edrington stepped in and picked up his teammates with a double to the left-field gap that scored Blake Headley from first base and then Edrington scored himself on single from Rich Sanguinetti, as the freshman shortstop made a perfect slide at the plate to avoid a tag from KSU catcher Blair DeBord.
The Wildcats cut Nebraska’s lead in half in the bottom of the second on a two-out single from Kivett. Following a two-out walk to No. 9 hitter Kyle Speer, Kivett slipped a ground ball through the left side of Nebraska’s infield to score Jon Davis from second base.
Kivett came calling again in the fourth with a sacrifice fly that tied the game, 2-2, as Davis scored from third after being hit to lead off the inning.
Kelly led off the fourth with a single and moved to second on a fielder’s choice sacrifice bunt from Pritchard. With two on and no out, Chad Christensen tried to move both his teammates into scoring position with a bunt, but reliever Blake McFadden was able to cut down Kelly at third for the first out of the inning. Darby stepped up and cleared the bases with a three-run homer, as McFadden’s 3-2 quickly exited over the right-field wall. McFadden then walked Kalkowski, forcing KSU to bring in Hayden Nixon, who walked Headley and was relieved by MaVorhis after facing one batter. MaVorhis struck out a pair of Huskers to end the fifth, but not before Nebraska took a 5-2 lead.
The Wildcats answered with a three-spot of their own in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. After Jeff Chesnut hit the leadoff batter for the second straight inning, DeBord singled to end Chesnut’s night. With Zach Hirsch on the mound, RJ Santigate laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases with no out. Hirsch got a hard ground ball to Kalkowski at first that looked like a potential double-play ball, but the ball deflected off Kalkowski’s glove into right field, allowing a pair of runs to score. Darby then made a diving catch on fly ball off the bat of Davis, but on the play Santigate scored easily from third to tie the game, 5-5. Kansas State tried to get the go-ahead run in scoring position by putting Austin Fisher in motion, but Lubach caught his second Wildcat stealing on the night to clear the bases. Hirsch retired DeBord on a pop out to end the fifth.
Howell took the mound for the Huskers in the sixth and was rudely welcomed by the Wildcats. After allowing a leadoff walk to Kyle Speer, Kivett doubled and Tanner Witt tripled to give KSU its first lead of the night, 7-5. Michael Hoppes came in with a runner on third and got a pop out right away from the first out. Hoppes then got Jared King to pop up, but it fell just between Christensen and Edrington in left field to score Witt. Hoppes retired the next to KSU batters he faced to end the sixth, with Nebraska down, 8-5.
Nebraska got a run back in the seventh when Darby reached on a one-out double and scored on a single from Kalkowski. The Huskers eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but reliever Jake Matthys got Sanguinetti to fly out to center field to keep the Wildcats up two, 8-6.
Kivett continued to punish Husker pitching in the seventh with his fourth and fifth RBIs of the game on a one-out single, pushing KSU’s lead to four, 10-6, through seventh innings.
Nebraska loaded the bases in the top of the eighth and with two outs pinch-hitter Corey Stringer came to the plate as the game-tying run, but lefty Jared Moore struck out the NU junior swinging to send the Huskers away scoreless.
The Huskers plated a pair of runs on consecutive two-out singles from Pritchard and Christensen in the ninth to cut the Wildcats lead to two, 10-8. Darby stepped to the plate as the potential game-tying run, but was retired to end the game.
After playing 12-straght road games, the Huskers return to Hawks Field on Friday for their Big Ten home opener with Northwestern. Friday’s game will be shown nationally on the Big Ten Network, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. The series with the Wildcats continues on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and concludes on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.