Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Nebraska baseball team improved to 10-4 in Big Ten play on Saturday afternoon at the Wilpon Complex with a 3-1 win over the Michigan Wolverines (18-24-1, 8-9 Big Ten). Now 28-16 overall on the year, the Huskers have won seven straight road games and will go for a sweep of the Wolverines tomorrow afternoon.
Nebraska starter Chance Sinclair improved to 6-1 on the year and 3-0 in conference play, while Josh Roeder picked up his ninth save of the season with a perfect ninth inning in the win. Ryan Boldt, Pat Kelly and Austin Darby all had two hits on the day, with Kelly notching his 50th career multi-hit game.
Both teams scored in the first inning and it looked like the game would be an offensive showdown, instead both starting pitchers settled in and hung zeroes on the board over the next six innings.
Sinclair went 7.1 innings for the Huskers, allowing just one unearned run on six hits and two walks, while striking out four. It was the junior’s seventh outing of at least 7.0 inning on the year, including his fifth in his last six starts.
For Michigan, Trent Szkutnik labored through the first 2.0 innings, but stayed composed and allowed just one run on five hits and five walk with no strikeouts over 6.2 innings.
With Michigan’s bullpen on the mound in the eighth, the Huskers broke the 1-1 tie with a pair of runs on four hits, including three with two outs. Kelly opened the frame with a double, his sixth of the year. The Huskers quickly manufactured a run with a sacrifice bunt by Blake Headley and a sacrifice fly by Steven Reveles that put the Huskers ahead, 2-1. Nebraska’s offense stayed aggressive and got three straight two-out singles by Darby, pinch hitter Ben Miller and Taylor Fish, with Fish’s single to center scoring Darby. Boldt then worked a walk to load the bases with two outs for the second straight inning, but reliever UM Donnie Eaton got a fly ball off the bat of Jake Placzek to end the inning, but not before the Huskers took a 3-1 lead.
The Wolverines had the tying run at first base following back-to-back one-out single off Sinclair in the bottom of the eighth, but senior Zach Hirsch came in and retired consecutive UM batters to strand both runners.
Leading 3-1, Josh Roeder took the mound in the bottom of the ninth in search of his ninth save of the season. Facing the bottom third of the UM lineup, Roeder pitched a perfect ninth, including a strikeout of Eric Jacobson to end the game.
The Husker offense gave Sinclair a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a pair of hits. Boldt led off the game with a single for the second straight day and quickly moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Placzek. After Michael Pritchard worked a walk, Kelly picked up his 32nd RBI of the season with a base hit through the left side of the infield.
The lead didn’t last long, as a leadoff walk came back to hurt Sinclair in the bottom of the first. Travis Maezes worked a leadoff walk and after moving to second on a passed ball, Maezes scored on a single by Jackson Glines.
Nebraska was in position to add to its lead in the second when Szkutnik walked Darby and Ty Kildow to start the inning. With both in scoring position following a sacrifice bunt by Fish and the top of NU’s order up, Szkutnik got a pop out and a groundout to keep the game tied 1-1.
After each team scored in the first, neither team put a runner on second base until the Wolverines had Jacobson in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Sinclair was able to keep the game tied, 1-1, by striking out Carmen Benedetti looking and getting Glines to pop up to shallow left-center field.
Each team was set down in order in the sixth and then the Huskers mounted a rally in the top of the seventh when they loaded the bases with two down. Michigan went to its pen and brought in reliever Brett Adcock to face Pritchard, who delivered a three-RBI double on Friday with the bases loaded. Pritchard worked Adcock to a full count, but was unable to come through and instead struck out swinging to leave the game tied, 1-1.
Nebraska rebounded with two runs in the eighth to take a 3-1 lead, while Hirsch and Roeder retired the final six Wolverine batters of the game to preserve the win.
Nebraska goes for the series sweep tomorrow when the teams meet at Noon (CT). Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin will have the call across the Husker Sports Network, while the game will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network (video.btn.com, subscription required).