Irvine, Calif. - The Nebraska baseball team (5-10, 0-0 Big Ten) dropped its series opener with the No. 25 UC Irvine Anteaters (14-4) on Friday night at Anteater Ballpark, 2-1.
In what turned out to be a pitchers duel, the two teams combined for three runs on 14 hits, but Irvine starter Andrew Thurman was too much as the righty struck out 11 Huskers in a complete-game win.
Nebraska's Christian DeLeon kept the Huskers in the game, allowing two runs over 6.1 innings of work. After giving up a pair of runs on three hits in the first inning, DeLeon held the Anteaters scoreless on five hits and no walk over the next 5.1 innings before handing the game over to reliever Luke Bublitz. The junior righty gave up one hit over his 1.2 innings of work, while also notching one strikeout.
The Anteaters struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning on three hits. Irvine loaded the bases with three-straight one-out singles, before DeLeon hit Taylor Sparks to plate the game's first run. Kris Paulino then lifted a fly ball deep enough into left field to score Connor Spencer. With two down, DeLeon retired Scott Gottschling to end the inning.
After Thurman had retired eight straight Huskers, Rich Sanguinetti led off the fourth with a full-count walk and moved to second on an infield single by Chad Christensen. Josh Scheffert then executed a sacrifice bunt to put both his teammates in scoring position, but the Huskers were unable to cash in as Thurman retired Austin Darby and Pat Kelly in order to end the threat.
The Huskers got their leadoff man on for the third-straight inning in the sixth, and after failing to score in fourth and fifth, NU was able find a way to get a run home.
Michael Pritchard led off with a deep fly ball into the left field corner for a double, and was able to move to third when Paulino had trouble coming up with the ball off the wall. After Sanguinetti went down swinging, Christensen lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Pritchard to score with ease, cutting Irvine's lead to 2-1.
Nebraska was in position to tie the game in the top of the ninth after Sanguinetti led off with a single and moved to second on an error by Dominique Taylor in center field. The Anteaters then made plays behind Thurman, as Sanguinetti was thrown out at third on a groundball off the bat of Christensen and Scheffert grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.
The Huskers and Anteaters continue their three-game series tomorrow at 3 p.m. (CT). Nebraska's Ryan Hander (0-2) is scheduled to face lefty Matt Whitehouse (2-1).