Huskers Blast Gophers, 8-0, Win Pivotal Series
Minneapolis, Minn. – The Nebraska baseball team (23-26, 14-7 Big Ten) took care of business on Sunday afternoon at Siebert Field with a 8-0 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers (29-18, 12-5) in the rubber match of the series. With the series win, the Huskers won all four of their Big Ten Conference road series, posting a 9-3 record in 12 conference road games.
Sophomore Aaron Bummer delivered the best outing of his young Husker career with a career-high 7.0 innings of shutout work. The Peoria, Ariz., native held the Gophers scoreless on three hits and three walks, while striking out three. Bummer allowed a pair of Gophers to reach in the same inning just once on the afternoon, while retiring 10 straight at one point in the game.
Ryan Hander and Jeff Chesnut combined to shutout the Gophers over the final two innings, as the two righties didn’t allow a hit.
With the pair of shutout wins on the weekend, it marked the first time since 2005 that the Husker pitching staff has posted a pair of shutouts during a conference series since 2005 when NU shutout Oklahoma State twice, 6-0 and 10-0, at Hawks Field. The last time the Huskers posted a pair of shutouts on the road was 2004, when NU won 8-0 and 4-0 at Kansas State.
Nebraska’s offense got to Minnesota starter DJ Snelten for the second straight season with three runs (all earned) on nine hits off the junior lefty over 5.2 innings. It was the 6-7 lefty’s first loss of the season, who entered the game 4-0, and was Snelten’s shortest outing during Big Ten action after going at least 6.0 innings in his four conference starts of the year.
Last season, Snelten took the loss in game two of the series in Lincoln. He was tagged for seven runs (all earned) on eight hits and a pair of walks over 3.2 innings of work.
Kash Kalkowski led the Husker attacked with a 4-for-5 day at the plate, including a home run and three singles. It was Kalkowski’s second four-hit day of the year and third of his career. All nine starters for the Huskers had at least a hit, while five Huskers posted at least a pair of hits. The bottom of Nebraska’s lineup was the difference, as NU’s 7-8-9 hitters were 5-for-12 with five RBIs.
After failing to score through the first three innings on four hits, the Huskers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth a Kalkowski’s second home run of the season. With a full-count, Kalkowski hit a no-doubter over the left field wall, the Huskers second home run of the weekend after Scheffert hit a solo shot in the series opener.
Bummer kept the momentum on the NU’s side with a 1-2-3 fourth inning, needing just seven pitches to retire the Gophers. The sophomore then came back and repeated it with a 1-2-3 fifth, retiring his eighth-straight Gopher in the process.
The Husker bats gave Bummer some breathing room in the sixth with a pair of runs. Following a leadoff walk to Josh Scheffert and a base hit by Kalkowski, sophomore Blake Headley put down a sacrifice bunt that moved both Huskers into scoring position. The sacrifice immediately paid off, as Tanner Lubach delivered a RBI groundout to second base that scored Scheffert. Freshman Wes Edrington then put a charge into 2-0 pitch from Snelten that nearly got out of the yard, but instead hit on the warning track and bounced over the wall for a RBI ground-rule double, putting Nebraska in front 3-0.
Bummer came out in the sixth and retired his ninth and 10th-straight Gohpers, before issuing a four-pitch walk to Kurt Schlangen, Bummer’s first free pass of the game. Bummer then hit Andy Henkemeyer with his very next pitch to give the Gophers a pair of base runners for the first time on the afternoon. With the tying run at the plate in clean-up hitter Ryan Abrahamson, Bummer composed himself and got a ground ball to Edrington at short to retire Abrahamson.
Nebraska’s offense went back to work in the seventh, with four runs on four hits. With runners on first and second with one out following a leadoff double by Michael Pritchard and walk to Chad Christensen, Kalkowski picked up his second RBI of the game and 35th of the season with a single to left-center field. Kalkowski was then picked off at first for the second out of the inning, but Headley worked a walk to put runners on the corners. Lubach picked up his teammate with a 2-RBI triple to deep center field on a 0-2 pitch from reliever Lance Thonvold. Minnesota went to reliever Ben Meyer to face Edrington and the NU freshman dropped a RBI single into right field on the first pitch he saw, pushing NU’s lead to 7-0.
Lubach picked up his third RBI of the game in the ninth with a sacrifice fly that scored Kalkowski, who led off the inning with his fourth hit of the game.
Nebraska wraps up non-conference play on Tuesday with a visit to TD Ameritrade Park for a 7:05 p.m. game with the Creighton Blujays. The game will be shown live across the state of Nebraska on NET.
The Huskers then welcome the Michigan Wolverines to Hawks Field for a three-game series starting on Thursday at 6:35 p.m., that will conclude the 2013 regular season.