Minneapolis, Minn. – After dropping a three-game series to the Michigan Wolverines (29-26) last week at Hawks Field, the Nebraska baseball team (26-28) responded with a 11-2 win on Wednesday afternoon over the Wolverines at Target Field in Nebraska’s first game of the 2013 Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore Kyle Kubat dealt 7.0 innings on one-hit ball, while Blake Headley, Pat Kelly and Austin Darby each produced multi-hit days at the plate.
Nebraska’s pitching staff limited the Wolverines to five hits on the day, including just a pair of hits over the first eight innings. The Husker bats produced 12 hits on the afternoon, marking the sixth straight game the Huskers have pounded out double-digit hits.
On the mound, Kubat dominated the Wolverines, allowing just one hit over his 7.0 innings of shutout work. The sophomore lefty sat down Michigan’s offense in order four times on the day and didn’t allow a Wolverine to reach base until the top of the fourth. Kubat took a no-hitter into the seventh, where Kevin White broke it up with a two-out single.
Luke Bublitz pitched a scoreless eight and then Colton Howell took over in the ninth with an 11-0 lead. The Wolverines scratched across two runs off the freshman reliever on three hits.
Headley led all players with three hits, while Darby belted a pair of doubles and Kelly added two singles. Darby plated four runs on the day, as Nebraska’s 6-7-8 hitters were 5-for-13 with seven RBIs.
Nebraska’s bats got after Michigan starter James Bourque, who gave up six runs (five earned) on six hits and four walks over 4.1 innings. Bourque was tough on the Huskers during last week’s series in the Lincoln, as he threw 3.2 inning of scoreless relief, giving up just two hits and striking out six.
Following a 1-2-3 first inning from Kubat, the Huskers jumped in front 1-0 on a pair of Michigan mistakes. Rich Sanguinetti led off and reach on an error by UM second baseman Patrick Biondi. After moving to second on a groundout by Kelly and to third on a base hit from Michael Pritchard, Sanguinetti was able to walk home on a balk by Bourque. With Pritchard on second and only one out, Bourque limited the damage by striking out Chad Christensen, who walked three times in the game, and Kash Kalkowski in order to end the frame.
After Kubat retired the Wolverines in order in the second and third innings, NU’s bats added three runs on three hits in the bottom of the third to give Kubat a 4-0 lead.
Bourque got a fly out off the bat of Sanguinetti to start the third, but then gave up an infield single to Kelly and a pair of walks to load the bases. Kalkowski came through with a RBI single and Headley followed with a 2-RBI single, forcing the Wolverines to get their bullpen throwing. Nebraska was unable to add any more runs though, as Bourque stopped the bleeding with a groundout and a fly out.
Kubat allowed his first base runner of the game in the top of the fourth on a leadoff walk to Biondi, but then locked back in and retired Michigan’s 2-3-4 hitters to keep Nebraska on top, 4-0.
After Kubat posted his fourth 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the fifth, the Husker bats added three more runs on a clutch two-out hit from Darby to take a 7-0 lead. Pritchard started the inning by working a walk and Christensen followed with a single. Kalkowski tried to move both into scoring position, but lined a bunt back at Bourque. With Headley, a lefty, due up, Michigan went to Trent Szkutnik, who started against the Huskers last Thursday in Lincoln. Headley welcomed him with a single that loaded the bases. Szkutnik came back and struck out Tanner Lubach, putting himself in position to get out of the inning without any damage. Darby had a different plan, as the sophomore blasted the first pitch he saw to right field and nearly got it out of the park, but 23-foot wall kept it in the park, holding Darby to a bases-clearing 3-RBI double.
Darby came calling again in the seventh with a RBI double off of reliever Chad Jasman that put the Huskers ahead 10-0. Nebraska had the bases loaded with two out in the inning, but Jasman got a fly out to end the inning.
Nebraska’s offense kept attacking and added one more run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly from Lubach that scored Christensen, who led off the inning with a walk.
The Huskers return to Target Field tomorrow for 3:35 p.m. game with the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes. Sophomore Aaron Bummer is scheduled to start for the Huskers, while the Buckeyes will counter with righty Brad Goldberg. The game will be shown live on the Big Ten Network, while Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle will have the call on the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com.