Lincoln – The Nebraska baseball team (20-24, 11-5 Big Ten) dropped its first Big Ten series opener of the year on Saturday night at Hawks Field, as the No. 16 Indiana Hoosiers (35-8, 12-4 Big Ten) took over sole possession of second place in the league with a 8-6 win. Indiana’s Kyle Schwarber and Nick Ramos each hit a pair of solo home runs, while Chad Christensen was 3-for-3 with two runs scored for Nebraska.
The Huskers entered the game 5-0 in conference series openers, their best start to a season since 2001 when NU went a perfect 9-0 in Big 12 series openers.
Junior Christian DeLeon lost his second straight start to fall to 5-4 on the year, while lefty Joey DeNato improved to 7-1 on the season in the win and Ryan Halstead earned his eighth save of the year.
The Huskers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on RBI singles from Pat Kelly and Josh Scheffert. DeLeon kept the Hoosiers scoreless through the first two inning, until Ramos led off the third with a homer into the right-field bullpen and Schwarber tied the game two batters later with his 11th homer of the season.
The Hoosiers added a run in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to take a 5-2 lead.
Nebraska cut IU’s lead to two runs in the sixth, as Christensen led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout from Kash Kalkowski and scored on a wild pitch from DeNato.
Following a scoreless seventh from both teams, Chad Clark plated two runs for the Hoosier with a two-out single down the right-field line, his second and third RBIs of the game.
Trailing 7-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Huskers started the inning with four straight hits, including a double from Michael Pritchard. With the tying run at second base and one down, Blake Headley laced a single through the left side of the infield and Kalkowski tried to score, but was cut down at the plate by left fielder Will Nolden. Following an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Austin Darby, the Huskers still had the tying run at second in Headley, but Halstead struck out Bryan Peters to end the Husker threat.
Dylan Vogt took the mound in the ninth and tried to keep it a one-run game, but Schwarber came calling again with a one-out solo shot to right field, putting the Hoosiers ahead by two, 8-6.
Nebraska had the top of its lineup at the plate in the ninth, but Halstead sat the Huskers down in order with three straight strikeouts to seal the victory.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. and will be shown across the state on NET. Sophomore Kyle Kubat is set to take the mound for Nebraska against Indiana lefty Kyle Hart.