Minneapolis, Minn. – After winning the series opener, 6-0, on Friday afternoon, the Nebraska baseball team (22-26, 13-7) was unable to capture a series win on Saturday at Siebert Field. The Minnesota Golden Gophers (29-17, 12-5) scored the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth, evening the series with 4-3 win.
Sophomore Austin Darby accounted for three of Nebraska’s seven hits on the day, including an RBI triple in the fourth. Three Gophers put together a pair of hits, as they totaled nine hits in the win.
With the game tied, 3-3, the Gophers were able to scratch across a run in the bottom of the eight on three hits, retaking the lead 4-3. Ryan Abrahamson led off with inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Dan Olinger. Head Darin Erstad brought in sophomore Josh Roeder to relieve Luke Bublitz. With the wind blowing out at nearly the 20 mph the Husker defense was playing deep, which allowed pinch-hitter Mark Tatera to drop a single into shallow center field that scored Abrahamson. Roeder gave up another single, before retiring two straight to keep the Huskers down just one heading to the ninth.
Dalton Sawyer struck out the side in the top of the ninth earn the win.
At the beginning of the game, the Huskers took advantage of three Minnesota errors in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. Pat Kelly was the only Husker to register a hit in the inning, with a single, while Kash Kalkowski notched an RBI on an error by second baseman Connor Schaefbauer and Blake Headley drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
After being shutout in the series opener, the Gophers scored their first run of the weekend in the bottom of the second. Abrahamson led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a groundout by Olinger. With Alex LaShomb batting, Taylor Fish was unable to snag a high fastball from Kyle Kubat and Abrahamson came home on the passed ball.
The Gophers then took their first lead of the weekend in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs after UM starter Alec Crawford retired Nebraska in order. With runners on the corners and one down, Kurt Schlangen dropped a double down the right field line on a full count that scored two runs, putting the Gophers ahead, 3-2.
Minnesota’s lead didn’t last long, as Darby evened the game, 3-3, with a two-out triple in the top of the fourth. With Headley on second, Darby went the other way on a 1-0 offering from Crawford that found the gap in left-centerfield. It was Nebraska’s second three-bagger of the weekend after Kalkowski tripled in the series opener.
The Gophers were in position to retake the lead in the fifth, but Kubat dug and stranded a pair to keep the game tied, 3-3. With runners at second and third with one down, Abrahamson hit a hard ground ball to Bryan Peters at short, who cut down Schaefbauer at the plate. Kalkowski then made a fine stop on a ground ball down the first base line, and beat Olinger to the bag to retire the Gophers.
Darby led off the seventh with his third hit of the day and after Fish failed to get down a sac bunt, Darby moved into scoring position at second on a four-pitch walk to Rich Sanguinetti. Crawford got a fly out from Kelly, before Sawyer came in and retired Michael Pritchard on a ground ball to strand Darby at second to keep the game tied, 3-3.
The Huskers and Gophers play the rubber match of the series tomorrow back at Siebert Field, with first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. Nebraska will send Aaron Bummer to the mound against Minnesota’s DJ Snelten. Greg Sharpe and Jeff Culhane will have the call across the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com. The game will also be streamed live on BTN.com (subscription required).