Huskers Rally, But Fall 3-2
Minneapolis – Bryan Peters tied Thursday afternoon’s game, 2-2, with a two-out single in the top of the ninth, but a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth resulted in a 3-2 walk-off win for Ohio State Buckeyes in the winner’s bracket of the Big Ten Tournament.
With the loss, the Husker fall into the loser’s bracket and will play tomorrow at 3:35 p.m. Nebraska will play the winner of the 12:05 p.m. game tomorrow, which will be between Illinois and the loser of the Minnesota/Indiana game tonight at Target Field.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the top of the ninth, the Huskers got the tying run on base with one out following a four-pitch walk to Austin Darby. Ty Kildow came in to pinch run and following a fly out from Tanner Lubach, Kildow stole second base to get himself into scoring position. Peters got ahead in the count 2-0, but OSU closer Trace Dempsey evened the count at 2-2. With the Huskers down to their last strike, Peters laced a ground ball through the left side, his second hit of the game, that scored Kildow from second, tying the game, 2-2.
Zach Ratcliff led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and was replaced on the bases by Patrick Porter. Tim Wetzel stepped in an laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the winning in scoring position at second with one down. Aaron Gretz pinch hit for the Buckeyes and reliever Dylan Vogt intentionally walked him to setup a double-play situation. With the top of OSU’s order up, Joe Ciamacco worked a full-count walk to load the bases and Vogt walked Troy Kuhn on four straight pitches to walk in the game-winning run.
The loss spoiled a solid outing from sophomore Aaron Bummer, who put together his third-straight 7.0-inning start. The lefty gave up a pair of runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out five.
Buckeye starter Brad Goldberg gave up five hits and four walks over 6.2 innings of work, but allowed just one run, while punching out six Huskers.
Nebraska’s offense had their leadoff man on six times in the game, but five of the six times Goldberg was able to strand the runner. Michael Pritchard’s two-out triple in the fifth inning tied the game, 1-1, and marked the only time on the afternoon the Huskers were able to plate a leadoff base runner.
Bummer retired the Buckeyes in order in the first, but then gave up a leadoff single to Brad Hallberg in the bottom of the second, the first hit for either team. The Buckeye first baseman moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and a groundout to the right side, which setup Ratcliff to drive in the first run of the game with a two-out single to center field. Bummer limited the damage to one run with a groundout off the bat of Wetzel to end the inning.
The Huskers picked up their first hit on a leadoff infield single from Darby in the third, who moved into scoring position at second on a sacrifice bunt by Lubach. Goldberg stranded the NU sophomore though, as he struck out Peters and got Pritchard to groundout to end.
Nebraska got it leadoff man on for the third time in the game following a double from Pat Kelly in the fourth, but were unable to get him home. Goldberg struck out Chad Christensen, and after walking Kash Kalkowski, Blake Headley grounded out on a diving stop by Kuhn at second base, but both runners moved into scoring position on the pay. Josh Scheffert tried to deliver a two-out hit and put a good swing on an offering from Goldberg, but the line drive was hit right at Wetzel in left field.
After Bummer retired his seventh straight Buckeye in the bottom of the fourth, Darby picked up his second hit of the game with a leadoff single in the fifth and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lubach. After Peters lined out to left field, the Huskers were in danger of stranding a leadoff runner for the fourth time in the game, but Pritchard came through with a triple into the left-field gap, tying the game 1-1. Goldberg was able to keep the go-ahead run from scoring, as he got Kelly to fly out to centerfield.
Bummer worked himself out of a jam in the fifth, as the Buckeyes had a pair in scoring position with one out following a leadoff walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt. With the go-ahead run at third, Bummer struck out Greg Solomon swinging and got some help from his defense, as Pritchard made a sliding catch on line drive off the bat off Ciamacco to strand a pair of Buckeyes, keeping the game tied, 1-1, through five.
Christensen led off the sixth with a walk, but was erased on a one-out fielder’s choice off the bat of Headley. With two down and Scheffert at the plate, Solomon tried to catch Headley napping at first, but instead threw the ball down the right-field line, allowing Headley to move to third base. Goldberg didn’t allow the error to hurt the Buckeyes, as he punched out Scheffert swinging.
Nebraska’s 4-5-6 hitters ended the day going 0-for-11.
A pair of free passes hurt Bummer in the sixth, as he started the frame by walking Kuhn and then hit Kirby Pellant on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Bummer came back and struck out Hallberg, but Jacob Bosiokovic came through with a double to deep right field that scored Kuhn to put the Buckeyes ahead, 2-1. With a pair of Buckeyes in scoring position with one out, Bummer again got help from Pritchard, who caught a fly ball off the bat of Mike Carroll and delivered a strike to the plate to cut down Pellant for the third out of the inning.
Nebraska got to the Buckeye bullpen in the seventh following a two-out ground-rule double from Peters. With Pritchard up, OSU went to lefty Ryan Riga, who stranded the tying run at second base with a ground-ball out.
Christensen reached in the eighth on an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch with one down to get the tying run in scoring position. The senior was stranded though, as reliever Brett McKinney induced two straight fly outs to end the NU eighth, keeping the Buckeyes ahead, 2-1.
After tying the game in the top of the ninth, the Huskers lost in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth, marking the 17th time the Huskers have dropped a game by two runs or less this season.
The Huskers continue the Big Ten Tournament tomorrow at 3:35 p.m. 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.