Lincoln – A pinch-hit home run from Blake Headley in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the Nebraska baseball team (16-19, 8-4 Big Ten) to a 4-2 win over the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks (25-14, 9-6 SEC) in game two of Tuesday’s doubleheader, securing a sweep for the Huskers after three Huskers pitchers tossed a combined no-hitter in 3-0 game one win.
With the game tied, 1-1, heading into the bottom of the eighth, Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn brought in sophomore righty Chris Oliver. Nebraska countered by pinch hitting Headley, a lefty, and after he saw one pitch from Oliver, the sophomore from Omaha blasted his first career home run into the right-field bullpen. It was the first pinch-hit homer by a Husker since Pat Kelly notched one against Northern Colorado last season.
Following Headley’s leadoff homer, the top of Nebraska’s order produced three straight singles, including a bunt base hit from Michael Pritchard to load the bases with no out. Pritchard entered the at-bat 0-2 and extended his team-high hitting streak to 16 games with the bunt single.
With the bases loaded and the Huskers clinging to a one-run lead, Chad Christensen hit a ball hard to shortstop Brett McAfee, who was unable to gather the ball for Arkansas’ second error of the game, allowing Rich Sanguinetti to score. With the bases still loaded, Darby hit into a double play, but Kelly scored to put Nebraska up three, 4-1.
Josh Roeder took the mound in the ninth and after giving up a leadoff double, he struck out two straight Razorbacks. Arkansas kept the game interesting with a pair of singles and with the go-ahead run at the plate in 3-hole hitter Tyler Spoon, Roeder induced a fly out to Sanguinetti in center field to complete the doubleheader sweep.
The Razorbacks entered the Tuesday leading the country in both team ERA (1.72) and hits per nine innings (6.32). The Huskers scored three earned runs in the first game on five hits and totaled two earned runs in game two on seven hits.
Following a combined no hitter from Kyle Kubat, Tyler Niederklein and Dylan Vogt, six Husker pitchers continued to keep the Razorbacks in check in game two. Brandon Pierce started on the mound and gutted out 5.0 innings, giving up one run on three hits. Tyler King, Caleb Hawkins, Jeff Chesnut and Luke Bublitz then combined for three shutout innings, giving up a combined one hit. Roeder closed the door in the ninth to earn his second save of the season.
Just like in the first game of the doubleheader, the Huskers scored the game’s first run. Pritchard started the fourth inning by reaching on a fielding error by Jacob Mahan at third base and moved to second when the ball defected into shallow left field. Christensen stepped in an laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving Pritchard to third base with one down. After Darby lined out to second for the second out of the inning, Kash Kalkowski delivered a two-out RBI single into right field to put the Huskers ahead, 1-0.
After being shutout for 13 straight innings on Tuesday, Arkansas got on the board with a solo home run from Mahan in the fifth. It was nearly a two-run shot, but one batter earlier Christensen threw out Jacob Morris at second base when he tried to stretch a leadoff single into a double.
After playing five straight games at Hawks Field, the Huskers head back on the road this weekend for a three-game Big Ten series with the Purdue Boilermakers. The Huskers and Boilermakers kick off the series on Friday night at 6 p.m. (CT) in front a national-television audience on the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s game is also set for 6 p.m. (CT), while Sunday’s finale is scheduled for an 11 a.m. (CT) first pitch.