Huskers Punch Ticket to Columbus
Ann Arbor, Mich. - The Nebraska baseball team (33-20, 13-9 Big Ten) secured its spot at next week's Big Ten Baseball Tournament on Thursday night with a 15-2 win over the Michigan Wolverines at Wilpon Complex. The 15 runs were the most for the Huskers in a Big Ten opener this season, as every Husker starter had at least one hit on the night. NU strung together a conference-high 20 hits off four Michigan pitchers, including a career-high four hits Rich Sanguinetti, who also tied a career high with four RBI's. Four Huskers roped doubles on the night, while Kale Kiser stroked his first triple of the season.
On the mound, lefty Kyle Kubat continued to set the pace for the Huskers, as the freshman picked up his third straight win in conference play. Now 5-0 on the season, Kubat went 6.0 innings and gave up just two runs on six hits and one walk, while punching out six. Kubat has gone six innings or more in all three of his Big Ten starts this and has allowed no more than two earned runs, while striking out 16.
The Huskers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Michael Pritchard scored after reaching on a one-out single. After Richard Stock reached on a fielder's choice, UM starter Matt Ogden walked Josh Scheffert with two down to the load the bases. With no place to put Sanguinetti, the Wolverine freshman issued his third walk of the inning to plate Pritchard. Ogden bounced back and struck out Kash Kalkowski to escape the jam.
Michigan came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on two singles, a walk and a pair of stolen bases to take a 2-1 lead into the second. NU was in position to tie the game after Kiser ripped a one-out triple into the right-center field gap, but Ogden snagged a line drive off the bat of Pat Kelly and Pritchard grounded out to end the inning.
The Huskers broke through and chased Ogden out of the game in the third with four runs on six hits to retake the lead, 5-2. Chad Christensen led off the inning with his team-leading ninth bunt single of the year, but was then cleared trying to steal second. The hits kept coming though, as Stock laced a single and Scheffert roped his 11th double of the season to put two runners in scoring position for Sanguinetti. The junior added his second RBI of the game with a single and then took second base on a throwing error by center fielder Patrick Biondi. Kalkowski kept the runs coming with a two-RBI single through the right side and then scored all the way from first on a double by Austin Darby, but the freshman was thrown out on a close play at third, as he tried to pick up his first career triple.
After Kubat put down the Wolverines in order in the bottom of the third, NU got right back to scoring runs with five in the fourth on five hits. Christensen and Sanguinetti each doubled in the inning, with Sanguinetti adding his third RBI of the game on his two-bagger. Stock, Darby and Kiser each singled in the inning, with Stock driving in a pair of runs and Darby adding another to put NU up, 10-2.
The Huskers extended their lead to 11-2 in the sixth when Kelly stroked a two-out single of the middle to score Sanguinetti.
NU scored four or more runs in an inning for the third time in the ball game in the top of the ninth with four runs on five hits, all singles. NU strung together four straight two-out singles, while Kiser picked up his 46th career hit-by-pitch in the inning.
Junior Ryan Hander will try to win the series for the Huskers tomorrow when he takes the mound for his second career conference start at 5:05 p.m. (CT) against senior right-hander Brandon Sinnery. Greg Sharpe and Jeff Culhane will have the call on the Husker Sports Network and the game will be streamed live on BTN.com (subscription required).