Husker Comeback Completes Sweep

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Manhattan, Kan. –Dan Johnston’s two-run single in the top of the 10th capped Nebraska’s late-inning comeback, as the Huskers completed a three-game sweep of Kansas State with a 5-3 victory on Sunday.

The Huskers (14-2, 3-0 Big 12) trailed 3-2 heading into the top of the ninth against KSU All-American closer Daniel Edwards, but got the tying run across in the ninth on a DJ Belfonte sacrifice fly before Johnston, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the ninth, delivered a two-run, two-out single to left one inning later, helping the Huskers extend their win streak to 13 games.

The victory capped the Huskers’ first Big 12 road sweep since 2006 and equaled Nebraska’s longest win streak in the last eight seasons.

Nebraska’s freshman hitters came up big in the late innings, as David Stewart, who went 2-for-4 got the tying rally started with a leadoff double in the ninth before Johnston scored the tying run.

 “It’s fun to see,” Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson said. “They got down in some counts and came up with some clutch hits. David and Dan got into some tough situations and got the base hits. I thought they showed a lot of composure out there,”

Anderson was pleased with the Huskers’ spirit in getting the tying run across against Edwards, who was a first-team All-Big 12 closer in 2007.

“We showed a lot of heart,” Anderson said. “Even if we didn’t win the game, I felt like were very determined in that situation.

Mike Nesseth (2-0) earned the victory in relief, fanning four over two shutout innings, while Erik Anderson retired the side in order in the bottom of the 10th for his third save of the year. On the day, four Husker pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts and allowed just five Wildcat hits.

Jake Opitz and Nick Sullivan led Nebraska’s attack with three hits apiece, as Sullivan went 3-for-3 while Opitz scored twice in the win.

Nebraska got on the scoreboard in the top of the third, as Mitch Abeita slugged his team-high fourth homer of the year. Opitz reached on a one-out single before Abeita deposited a 1-0 offering from KSU starter Justin Murray over the fence in left, giving the Huskers a 2-0 cushion.

The Wildcats, who were held hitless over the first four innings, struck in the fifth with a pair of unearned runs off of Husker starter Aaron Pribanic. After Nate Tenbrink’s leadoff double, an error by Opitz put runners on the corners with no outs. Two batters later, Brett Scott’s grounder to second scored KSU’s first run before Carter Jurica’s run-scoring single knotted the score at two.

Pribanic went five innings, allowing two unearned runs on two hits, but did factor in the decision. The right-hander, who had tossed complete games in his previous two outings, fanned five and walked three.

KSU took advantage of a leadoff walk from Zach Herr in the sixth, taking a 3-2 lead on Justin Bloxom’s RBI single. Drew Biery opened with a walk before Bryon Wiley’s sacrifice moved Biery into scoring position. Bloxom sent a 1-1 pitch from Herr to right, as Biery’s slide beat the throw from right fielder DJ Belfonte. The KSU lead marked the first time in the last 78 innings that the Huskers had trailed dating back to March 4.

The Huskers threatened in the seventh against Murray, getting runners on second and third with two outs, but Ben Hornbeck came out of the bullpen and struck out Opitz on 2-2 pitch to end the theat.  Murray (2-0) turned in a solid performance, allowing two runs on seven hits, but did not get the decision, as the Huskers rallied in the ninth against Edwards.

In the top of the ninth, Stewart opened began the rally, taking Edwards’ 0-2 pitch into the left field corner for a double. Sullivan then lined a single to right, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Two batters later, Belfonte lofted a sacrifice fly to left, allowing Johnston to score the tying run.

Opitz opened the 10th with a single before an Abeita sacrifice moved Opitz into scoring position. Nimmo coaxed a one-out walk and Opitz moved to third as Tyler Rank flew out to center. Nimmo eventually advanced to second before Johnson cleared the bases by lining Edwards’ 1-2 pitch to left center.

The Huskers return home to begin a two-game series with the Arkansas Razorbacks beginning Tuesday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. General Admission Tickets are available by calling the NU Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED or on the Internet at Huskers.com.

-- Huskers --

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