Lincoln - The Nebraska
baseball team (21-12, 4-4 Big Ten) got a strong outing from Brandon Pierce in
his first career conference start and Richard Stock went 3-for-3 at the plate
to help the Huskers post a 9-4 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday afternoon
at Hawks Field to even the three-game series at 1-1. Rich Sanguinetti and Chad
Christensen also had multi-hit days with a pair of hits each, as the Huskers
out-hit the Hawkeyes 10-7 and improved to 14-1 on the season when notching more
hits than the opposition.
a reliever prior to his start today, Pierce gave up three runs on seven hits
and struck out a career-high six batters over a career-high 6.0 innings of
work. The sophomore righty had 36 career appearances entering Saturday, with
just four starts, including one other start this season against Kansas State on
March 27. Junior Tyler Niederklein closed to door for NU with 3.0 innings of
no-hit ball, as he retired the final seven Hawkeyes he faced. Niederklein
entered the game with the Huskers in a jam in the top of the seventh with the Iowa
runners on first and second, no outs and the Huskers up 6-4.
scored the first run of the game in the top of the first when Pierce walked
leadoff hitter Mike McQuillan, who later scored on a two-out single by Phil
Keppler. NU's offense responded in the bottom of the frame with three straight
hits to start the inning, including a leadoff double from Pritchard. With Sanguinetti
on third and Christensen on second, Kash Kalkowski grounded into a double play,
but it scored Sanguinetti to put Nebraska up 2-1 through the first.
leadoff walked haunted Pierce again in the second when Keith Brand drew a fee
pass and later scored on a two-out single by McQuillan. The Nebraska batters
got the run back in the bottom of the inning to re-take the lead, 3-2. Stock
led off with a single and following a walk to Josh Scheffert, Cory Burleson
moved both Huskers into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Kale Kiser then
drove in his 21st run of the season when Stock scored on a ground out to second
struck out the first two Hawkeyes he faced in the third, but left a 1-1 pitch
over the plate to Keppler, who blasted a solo shot over the right-center-field
wall to tie the game at 3-3. Pierce bounced right back and struck out Bryan
Niedbalski to end the inning.
Huskers were unable to get much going in the third or fourth and it looked like
they would go away scoreless in the fifth, but Christensen gave the Huskers
just the spark they needed when he stole second base on a failed pickoff
attempt with two out. Kalkowski followed with a single to right center that scored
Christensen to put the Huskers back up, 4-3, and Kalkowski then stole second
before Pat Kelly drew a two out walk. NU got aggressive with a double steal
that really paid off, as Brand threw the ball into left field trying to throw
out Kalkowski at third, allowing Kalkowski to score and Kelly to all the way
from first to third. Stock kept the runs coming with a single that drove in
Kelly to put the Huskers up 6-3.
Aaron Bummer took the mound to start the seventh and couldn't find the zone, as
he walked McQuillan and hit Jacob Yacinich to start the inning. Niederklein
came to the rescue and faced just three batters, but one run did come in to
score on a passed ball.
the Husker lead down to two runs, 6-4, after the top of the seventh, NU hung
three runs on the board to give themselves some breathing room. Scheffert produced
the only hit of the inning, but the Hawkeyes walked three Huskers, hit another
and had a throwing error from Yacinich at shortstop with two down. The error really
cost the Hawkeyes, as no runs had crossed the plate yet and after the error,
Head Coach Jack Dahm intentionally walked Stock to load the bases to get to
Scheffert, who drove in two with his double to left field.
cruised through the eighth and ninth innings by retiring the Hawkeyes in order
in both frames to secure his first career save.
Huskers will give the ball to lefty sophomore Zach Hirsch tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.
when they try to pick up the series win over the Hawkeyes. Iowa is scheduled to
send freshman lefty Sasha Kuebel to the mound in the rubber match.