Huskers Drop Series Opener, 7-5
Lincoln – The Nebraska baseball team (24-27, 14-8 Big Ten) dropped just its second Big Ten series opener of the season on Thursday night at Hawks Field, as the Michigan Wolverines (28-24, 13-9) used a four-run seventh inning to post a 7-5 win. The Huskers end the season with a 6-2 mark in conference series openers this season.
Following the loss, the Huskers sit in third place in the Big Ten standing with two games to play. The Wolverines are tied for fifth with Illinois, who beat Minnesota on Thursday, while Indiana and Ohio State are tied for the top spot in the league.
The Huskers took a 5-3 lead into the seventh, where the Wolverines drove in four runs with three-straight two-out singles to take a 7-5 lead.
Nebraska had the tying runs on base in both the eighth and ninth innings, but were unable to scratch across a run. Winning pitcher James Bourque retired Chad Christensen looking in the eight with a pair on, while Jacob Cronenworth picked up his seventh save of the year with a scoreless ninth. After Cronenworth retired Kash Kalkowski to start the ninth, Josh Scheffert reach on a one-out single and Tanner Lubach later delivered a two-out double to put two Huskers in scoring position. Lefty Blake Headley lined a shot the opposite way, but it was right at third baseman Dylan Delaney to end the game.
The possible game-tying hit would have been Headley’s fourth hit of the game, while Rich Sanguinetti also added three hits on the evening. Patrick Biondi and Cronenworth each produced three hits for the Wolverines, and Michael O’Neill hit his fourth home run of the season with a solo shot in the first inning.
After starter Kyle Kubat limited the Wolverines to three runs (two earned) on nine hits and no walks, while striking out a season-high five, over the first 6.0 innings, senior Dylan Vogt took the mound for the Huskers in the seventh. Vogt retired Cole Martin to start the inning and then issued a walk to nine-hitter John DiLaura, it was Vogt’s first walk in his last 15.0 innings of work. Biondi followed with a single and both Wolverines moved into scoring position on a throwing error by shortstop Wes Edrington. O’Niell stepped in and battled Vogt for 11 pitches, with the Husker reliever winning with a strikeout. Michigan followed with three straight singles two-singles to retake the lead for good.
The Huskers were able to get clutch two-out hitting early in the game, including a two-RBI triple from Pat Kelly in the second. Christensen stroked a two-out triple in the fourth that put Nebraska ahead, 4-1.
After the Huskers took a 5-2 lead in the fifth on a single from Lubach, the Wolverines scored five unanswered runs.
Nebraska’s series with Michigan continues tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. and will be shown live across the state on NET. Aaron Bummer is scheduled to start for the Huskers, while Evan Hill is set to take the mound for the Wolverines.