Irvine, Calif. - Limited to just four hits on the afternoon, the Nebraska baseball team (6-11, 0-0 Big Ten) dropped a 2-0 decision to the No. 25 UC Irvine Anteaters (15-5, 0-0 Big West) on Sunday at Anteater Ballpark, as Irvine won the three-game series, 2-1.
Nebraska's pitching staff held Irvine to a pair of runs (one earned) on eight hits, but the Anteaters' pitching staff was even better, as the Huskers totaled four hits and two walks. Irvine starter Andrew Morales improved to 6-0 on the year with 7.2 shutout innings. The righty allowed four hits and two walks, while striking out six.
Pitching was the story each game of the series, as the two teams each scored five runs on the weekend. Overall, Nebraska's arms held the Anteaters to five runs on 21 hits and seven walks, while averaging four strikeouts a game.
Husker starter Brandon Pierce retired the first four Anteaters he faced before Taylor Sparks laced a one-out single in the second. After Sparks had moved into scoring position at second base on a groundout, he tried to score on a base hit to right field off the bat of Mikey Duarte, but Austin Darby delivered a perfect throw to Tanner Lubach to cut down Sparks at the plate and keep the game scoreless through two innings.
Irvine broke the scoreless tie in the third with a run on two hits. Kris Paulino led off with single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Dominique Taylor's one-out double. Pierce then retired Irvine's No. 2 and 3 hitters to end the inning.
Nebraska had the game-tying run at third base with two outs in the fifth, but Morales got Lubach to groundout to end NU's threat.
The Anteaters extended their lead to 2-0 in the fifth when Taylor, how reached earlier in the inning on a one-out single, scored from third when Lubach threw the ball wide of Pierce on the mound following a pitch.
In the sixth, Rich Sanguinetti reached on a two-out single to bring the tying run to the plate in Christensen, but Morales was too much, as he struck out NU's No. 3 hitter to keep the shutout intact.
The Huskers got their leadoff man on for the first time in the game in the top of the eighth when Kash Kalkowski was hit for a team-high eighth time this year. Morales again kept NU scoreless, as he retired two straight Huskers before Jimmy Lichtfield came in and got Michael Pritchard to fly out with one pitch.
Following a trip to Disneyland tomorrow, the Huskers continue play in California on Tuesday when they open a two-game series with nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton. The two teams are schedule to meet at 8 p.m. on both Tuesday, March 19 and Wednesday, March 20. Both games will be shown live online for free at BigWest.TV, and will also be broadcast live on the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com.