Lincoln Ė Behind Alex Gordon’s 16th homer of the year and strong performances by a pair of freshmen, the fifth-ranked Nebraska baseball team improved to 43-12 on the season with a 3-2 victory over Western Illinois Wednesday afternoon.

Gordon’s two-run homer in the fifth helped the Huskers overcome an early 1-0 deficit and made a winner of freshman Luke Wertz, who allowed two runs on four hits over five frames.

Gordon went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, as his two-run homer off Northern Illinois starter Nick Hall was the first non-solo homer by Nebraska since April 6, a span of 16 homers.

Wertz, who was making only his second start of the year and first in two months, pitched well, striking out six and allowing only four hits to earn his first career win. The Parker, Colo., native walked only one in five innings, as he set season bests in strikeouts and innings pitched.

"Luke Wertz did a great job today," Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson said. "It was good to see the freshmen play key roles today, and step up and put some pressure on them."

While Wertz pitched admirably in a rare starting assignment, freshman Ryan Bohanan also took advantage of his first start at designated hitter, going 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, as the Huskers improved to 25-4 at Hawks Field this season.

Hall acquitted himself wall in defeat for Northern Illinois (14-35-1), allowing three runs on nine hits in a complete game loss to drop to 3-7 on the year.

The Huskies got on the board in the third, as Mike Santoro doubled before coming home two batters later on Jake Blair’s two-run homer to right. It would be the only mistake Wertz would make, as he retired the last five hitters after Blair gave the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Nebraska began to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the third, using a two-out rally to plate its first run. Brandon Buckman, who went 2-for-3, started the rally with a single before Trey Adams’ double to left center put runners on second and third. Hall then walked Jake Opitz to load the bases before Bohanan drew another bases-loaded walk off the Huskie starter, pulling NU within 2-1.

The Huskers, who have 15 come-from-behind wins this season, took the lead for good in the fifth, as Jesse Boyer singled to open the inning before Gordon’s two-run shot to right two batters later gave the Huskers all the offense they would need.

The Huskers relied on its bullpen over the last four innings, as Zach Kroenke, Bohanan and Brett Jensen combined for four innings of no-hit relief. Jensen struck out two as he retired the side in the ninth for his ninth save of the year.

The Huskers return to action this weekend, as they take on Kansas State in the final regular-season home series of the year. Friday’s first pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m. and tickets are available by calling the NU Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED or online at Huskers.com

                        Northern Illinois at #5 Nebraska
                  May 18, 2005 at Lincoln, Neb. (Hawks Field)

Northern Illinois 2 (14-35-1)

Player AB R H RBI BB SO PO A LOB ------------------------------------------------------ BUSCH, Jeremy cf......... 4 0 0 0 0 1 7 0 0 CHERNEY, Kyle 2b......... 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 3 0 SANTORO, Mike rf......... 3 1 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 SANSOUCI, Eric lf........ 3 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 BLAIR, Jake 3b........... 3 1 1 2 0 0 1 2 2 LARSEN, Greg dh.......... 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 SMITH, Brian 1b.......... 3 0 0 0 0 1 11 0 0 GILLINGHAM, TUG c........ 3 0 0 0 0 2 3 1 0 BESTEMAN, Marc ss........ 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 HALL, Nick p............. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 Totals................... 29 2 4 2 2 8 24 11 2

Nebraska 3 (43-12)

Player AB R H RBI BB SO PO A LOB ------------------------------------------------------ Boyer, Jesse lf.......... 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 Simokaitis, Joe ss....... 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 0 Gordon, Alex 3b.......... 4 1 2 2 0 0 0 2 0 Ledbetter, Curtis c/1b... 4 0 1 0 0 0 9 1 0 Buckman, Brandon 1b...... 3 1 2 0 0 0 11 1 0 Christy, Jeff c......... 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 Adams, Trey rf........... 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 Opitz, Jake 2b........... 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 10 0 Bohanan, Ryan dh/p....... 3 0 2 1 1 0 1 0 2 Bruce, Daniel pr........ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Jensen, Brett p......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Nimmo, Bryce cf.......... 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 4 Wertz, Luke p............ 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 Kroenke, Zach p......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 Totals................... 32 3 9 3 3 3 27 18 9

Score by Innings R H E ------------------------------------------- Northern Illinois... 000 200 000 - 2 4 3 Nebraska............ 000 120 00X - 3 9 0 -------------------------------------------

E - SANTORO, M(6); SMITH, Brian(5); GILLINGHAM,T(11). DP - Huskies 1; Huskers 2. LOB - Huskies 2; Huskers 9. 2B - SANTORO, M(16); Adams, T.(3). HR - BLAIR, Jake(10); Gordon, A.(16). HBP - Simokaitis. SB - Adams, T.(5); Bruce, D.(6).

Northern Illinois IP H R ER BB SO AB BF NP -------------------------------------------------- HALL, Nick.......... 8.0 9 3 3 3 3 32 36 115

Nebraska IP H R ER BB SO AB BF NP -------------------------------------------------- Wertz, Luke......... 5.0 4 2 2 1 6 18 19 74 Kroenke, Zach....... 2.0 0 0 0 1 0 5 6 17 Bohanan, Ryan....... 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 4 Jensen, Brett....... 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 3 3 11

Win - Wertz, L. (1-0). Loss - HALL, Nick (3-7). Save - Jensen, B. (9). HBP - by HALL, Nick (Simokaitis). Pitches/strikes: HALL, Nick 115/67; Wertz, L. 74/49; Kroenke, Z. 17/11; Bohanan, R. 4/3; Jensen, B. 11/8. Umpires - HP: Bruce Allen 1B: Tom Svehla 3B: Bill Goa Start: 2:06p.m. Time: 2:00 Attendance: 3164 Game: NU55