Lincoln - A season-high 19 hits from the Husker offense and 8.0 innings from starter Christian DeLeon powered the Nebraska baseball team to a 13-4 drumming of the No. 25 UC Irvine Anteaters in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Hawks Field.
DeLeon was efficient on the afternoon, needing exactly 100 pitches in his 8.0 innings of work, the fifth time in 19 starts he has gone 8.0 innings for the Huskers. The 6-3 righty allowed three runs, two earned, to the Anteaters on eight hits and just one walk. DeLeon faced just three UCI batters in four of his eight innings on the day.
Four Huskers had at least three hits on the afternoon, including a 4-for-5 performance from freshman Ryan Boldt, who had two doubles and four RBIs. Fellow freshman Ben Miller was 3-for-4 with two doubles, while Jake Placezek and Tanner Lubach also had three hits, with Lubach knocking in four runs.
DeLeon came out and retired the top of UCI's lineup in order to start the game, needing just eight pitches. Nebraska's offense kept the momentum going by scoring a pair of runs on two hits off Irvine starter Elliot Surrey. The UCI lefty lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.
Austin Darby started the home-half of the first by roping a double into the left-field corner on the first pitch he saw from Elliot and then Steven Reveles laid down a bunt single that put runners on the corners for Michael Pritchard. The Husker DH nearly grounded into a double play, but UCI second baseman Mikey Duarte was unable to catch the ball at second, allowing Darby to score, Reveles to coast into third and Pritchard to reach. Pat Kelly then nearly deposited his second home run of the season into the left-field berm, but had to settle for a sacrifice fly to the warning track that plated Reveles. The inning ended when Pritchard was caught stealing second base and following the play he was ejected from the game.
Irvine's first two batter reached in the second, but DeLeon dug in and got three straight outs, setting the table for the Husker offense to add to its lead. Placzek got the inning going with a one-out single that was followed by a single from Boldt and a RBI single by Ty Kildow that put Nebraska on top 3-0.
After DeLeon retired the Anteaters in order to start the third, Miller, who took over the DH role for the departed Pritchard, started the bottom of the frame with a double into the left-field corner. Two batters later Lubach brought the fans to their feet with a towering two-run homer that landed in the left-field berm. Lubach's second homer of the year put the Huskers ahead 5-0.
The Anteaters finally were able to score off DeLeon in the top of the fifth when a pair of two-outs singles drove in Justin Castro, who had singled earlier in the inning. UCI then got an easy run when a line drive to Reveles at short would have ended the inning, but it popped off his glove allowing an unearned run to cross the plate. With two runners on and the tying run at the plate in No. 3 hitter Taylor Sparks, the reigning Big West Co-Player of the Year and battled for 13 pitches, but DeLeon won the fight when he got Sparks to flyout to left field.
Nebraska's offense got both runs back in the bottom of the fifth and added two more, extending its lead to 9-2. The Huskers lit up reliever Michael Miller for four runs on four hits, before he exited the game after giving up a two-RBI double to Boldt. Reliever Michael Martin came in and gave up consecutive singles to Kildow and Darby, before ended the inning with a pop up off the bat of Reveles.
DeLeon produced his fourth 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth and then the Husker bats went back to work, starting with a leadoff double by Miller, his second of the game. After Kelly moved Miller to third with a groundout, Lubach lined a RBI single that increased NU's lead to 10-2. Austin Christensen then flew out and Placzek nearly notched his first career home run, but it slid foul by a few feet and the sophomore had to settle for a single one pitch later. Boldt stepped in with two down and continued to feast on Anteater pitching with a two-RBI double. It marked his second double in two innings, his fourth hit of the game and Nebraska's 18th hit on the afternoon, a new season high.
UC Irvine added one run in the top of the eighth when Sparks blasted his second homer of the weekend, a solo shot that carried well over the left-field wall.
The Huskers and Anteaters will wrap up the weekend with game two of today's doubleheader at roughly 3:25 p.m.