Stillwater, Okla. – Playing in a NCAA Regional for the first time since 2008, the 2014 Nebraska baseball season came to an end on Sunday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium following a 4-3 loss to the Cal State Fullerton Titans. It was the second loss in the tournament to the Titans, after CSF won 5-1 in the opening round on Friday.
Nebraska, who posted a 41-21 record in 2014, had the tying run in scoring position with two outs in the top of the ninth and Jake Placzek hit a line drive, but it was right at CSF second baseman Taylor Bryant for the final out of the game. The Huskers out-hit the Titans 8-5 on the afternoon, including a pair of hits from Austin Darby.
The pain of the season-ending loss was amplified by the fact at all four of Fullerton’s runs were unearned, as the Huskers committed three errors on the day.
Junior Aaron Bummer gave the Huskers 6.1 innings, and allowed just five hits and two walks, while striking out four. CSF starter Grahamm Wiest went 8.0 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and no walks, while striking out five. J.D. Davis closed the game out for his seventh save of the year.
After Wiest retired the Huskers in order to start the game, CSF’s offense gave its starter a 2-0 lead. Tyler Stieb led off the home half of the first with a single, then Bummer committed a costly error on a sacrifice bunt by Keegan Dale and Davis singled to load the bases. Bummer came back on got consecutive pop outs that would have ended the inning without the error, but instead Clay Williamson got a shot to hit and came through with a two-RBI single.
The Titans were in position to tack on more runs in the second when Bummer issued a two-out walk that brought Davis to the plate with two on. Bummer dug in and struck out CSF’s No. 3 hitter swinging to keep Fullerton’s lead at 2-0.
Wiest retired the first nine Huskers he faced until Ryan Boldt broke the streak with leadoff double in the fourth, his third extra-base hit of the tournament. Nebraska played small ball and Steven Reveles laid down a sacrifice bunt that was followed by a sacrifice fly from Michael Pritchard to put Nebraska on the scoreboard. Pat Kelly then lined a two-out single to put the tying run on base, but Wiest retired Blake Headley to keep the Titans ahead, 2-1.
Bummer retired Fullerton’s 2-3-4 hitters in the bottom of the fifth and NU’s offense followed with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to give the Huskers a 3-2 lead. Reveles got the inning started with a one-out single and then Pritchard executed a hit-and-run that put runners on the corners with one down. Pritchard then swiped second to put a pair of Huskers in scoring position, but NU wouldn’t need a hit to tie the game as Wiest buried a pitch into the dirt, allowing Reveles to score on the wild pitch. Kelly then reached second on a fielder’s choice, as Pritchard was cut down in a run down between third and home on a ground ball. With two outs, Weist got ahead of Headley 1-2, but the junior from Omaha wouldn’t be denied as he came through with a RBI single that gave the Huskers their first lead of the day.
With the lead, Bummer came out and retired the Titans in order in the sixth. After retiring nine straight Titans, Bummer hit Jared Deacon to start the bottom of the seventh and then allowed Bryant to reach on a sacrifice bunt that Bummer was unable to field, his second error of the game. Stieb moved both runners into scoring position and then Reveles committed an error at short that allowed the tying run to score. With Davis coming to the plate and runners on the corners, NU went to relieve Bob Greco. The senior gifted the Titans a run when he was called for a balk, just the fourth balk this season by a Husker pitcher. Greco limited the damage though by striking out Davis and getting Matt Chapman to fly out.
Nebraska went down in order in the eighth, but then just like they have all season they continued to fight. Down to NU’s final out, Darby single and then moved into scoring position when pinch-hitter Ben Miller was HBP. Placzek stepped in and nearly extended the game, but his line drive couldn’t find the outfield.