Austin, Texas - For the second time in less than a week, a walk-off single doomed the Nebraska baseball team (0-6, 0-0 Big Ten). The Huskers and Texas Longhorns battled back-and-forth through nine innings, but a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth was just what the Longhorns needed to win game two of the three-game series, 4-3, at Disch-Falk Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers tied the game twice, once in the seventh and again in the eighth, but was unable to take a lead over the Longhorns. Austin Darby was 3-for-3 at the plate after entering the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth, while Chad Christensen and Pat Kelly each had two hits. Nebraska out-hit the Longhorns on the afternoon, 10-8.
Junior Christian DeLeon gave the Huskers a strong outing in his second career start. The Richmond, Texas, native gave up two runs on five hits and three walks over 6.0 innings, while striking out seven. Starting in the third inning he retired 10 straight Texas hitters, while striking out the side in the fourth.
While Texas was outhit on the board, they were able to gain an advantage in free passes, as UT walked nine times in the game, compared to just three walks for the Huskers.
Texas took a 1-0 lead in the first when Jacob Felts came around to score after reaching on a one-out walk. With Felts on second and two down, Codey McElroy laced a double down the left field line to plate the game's first run.
Taylor Stell led off the bottom of the third with a double and scored to put the Longhorns up 2-0 on a sacrifice bunt after reaching third on a wild pitch from DeLeon.
The Huskers looked to have something going in the top of fourth when Christensen and Kelly started the inning with a pair of base hits. The inning quickly took a bad turn when Kash Kalkowski's sacrifice bunt attempt was caught by Texas starter Dillon Peters, who turned and fired to second base to double up Christensen. Josh Scheffert followed with a groundout to end the inning.
Nebraska cut into Texas' lead in the top of the fifth with a pair of two-out hits. After Peters quickly retired the first two Huskers he faced, Darby pinch-hit for Ty Kildow and singled through the right side. Darby moved into scoring position on the play, as right fielder Mark Payton tried to throw behind Darby at first base, but the throw was wide of the bag, allowing Darby to easily reach second. Bryan Peters then stepped to the plate and delivered a clutch hit that the Huskers had been looking for. Sitting 0-for-7 on the year, Peters blasted a double off the 375 sign in left center field to put NU on the board.
DeLeon continued to deal in the bottom of the fifth with his second straight 1-2-3 inning against the top of the Horns' order. The NU righty started the inning by notching his fourth straight strikeout.
Nebraska evened the score, 2-2, in the seventh with a run on three hits. Scheffert led off with a single to chase Peters from the game and Jake Placzek sacrificed Scheffert into scoring position with one down. Lefty Travis Duke came in and retired Sanguinetti for the second out, but Darby kept the inning alive with an infield single. With the top of NU's order coming up, Texas went to righty Cameron Cox, its fourth pitcher of the inning. Head Coach Darin Erstad countered with lefty Blake Headley to pinch hit, who came through with a two-out single to score Scheffert and tie the game.
The tie didn't last long, as Texas retook the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the seventh without getting a hit. NU's bullpen issued four walks in the inning, including three with two outs. Josh Roeder came in and struck out C.J. Hinojosa looking to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Nebraska swung back in the top of the eighth to again tie the game, 3-3. Christensen led off with a walk and moved 1st-to-3rd on a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Kelly through the right side. Kalkowski stepped to the plate and lifted a deep fly to center that easily scored Christensen from third. Kelly then moved to third on a wild pitch and a deep fly out off the bat of Scheffert, to put the go-ahead run only 90 feet away. Following a walk to Placzek, Toller Boardman came into the game for Texas and retired Sanguinetti to leave Kelly stranded at third.
Brooks Marlow put pressure on Nebraska's bullpen in the bottom of the eighth when he dropped a one-out double down the left-field line. With the go-ahead run at second base, Erstad went to Dylan Vogt to keep UT from retaking the lead. Vogt struck out Weston Hall for the second out and got Matt Moynihan to groundout to Scheffert at third to end the eighth.
The top of the ninth started out well for the Huskers when Darby reached on a bunt single. NU's inability to execute sacrifice bunts then struck again, as Headley bunted into a 1-6-3 double play. Tanner Lubach flew out to the right-field corner to end the top of the inning.
Vogt got the first out in the ninth before Erich Weiss picked up his second hit of the game with a double into the right-field gap. Following an intentional walk to Mark Payton to setup a potential double play, Hinojosa stepped to the plate and single softly up the middle to score Weiss from second for the game winner.
The weekend wraps up tomorrow with a Noon matchup, as Nebraska sends senior right-hander Ryan Hander to the mound, while Texas is set to counter with righty Nathan Thornhill.