Irvine, Calif. - Behind a gutsy
ninth inning from sophomore Josh Roeder, the Nebraska baseball team (6-10, 0-0
Big Ten) evened its series with the No. 25 UC Irvine Anteaters (14-5, 0-0 Big
West) on Saturday afternoon at Anteater Park with a 4-1 win.
a 4-0 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, Taylor Sparks led off the inning
with a homerun after reliever Zach Hirsch had retired 10 straight Anteaters. Head
Coach Darin Erstad turned the ball over to closer Dylan Vogt, who struggled to
find the zone and walked the bases load, forcing Erstad to make a second
pitching change in the inning and bring in Roeder. The sophomore transfer from
Louisberg College got pinch-hitter Jonathan Munoz to pop out for the first out
of the inning. With the top of the Irvine order up, Roeder blew away Dominique
Taylor with a fastball and closed out the win when he got pinch-hitter Ryan
Cooper to fly out to centerfield for the game's final out.
1-2-3 performance with the base loaded earned Roeder his first collegiate save
at Nebraska, while Hirsch improved to 1-1 on the year with the win.
was definitely never racking," Roeder said after the game. "It brought me back
to junior college last year, where I was the closer. There were lots of nerves
running through me, but I just calmed myself down and went from there."
Ryan Hander gave the Huskers 4.1 shutout innings, limiting the Anteaters to two
hits and two walks, while striking out five.
Chad Christensen notched his first home run of the season with a leadoff shot
in the eight and Kash Kalkowski was the only player for either team with more
than one hit, as he ended the day with a 2-for-3 performance. Bryan Peters produced
his first multi-RBI game of the season with a two-RBI single in the seventh.
just one runner in scoring position through the first six innings on four hits,
the Husker offense got their pitching staff some support with three runs in the
top of the seventh. Josh Scheffert led off with a single and Kalkowski was hit
for his team-high seventh time this season to put a pair of runs on with no
outs. Austin Darby stepped up just looking to sacrifice both his teammates into
scoring position with a bunt, but was able to produce much more as the pressure
of the bunt forced Irvine starter Matt Whitehouse to throw the ball into left
field when Whitehouse tried to get Scheffert at third, allowing Scheffert to
easily score for the game's first run. With no outs and runners still at second
and third, Whitehouse retired Tanner Lubach, but couldn't get Peters, as the
senior shortstop delivered a two-RBI single. Whitehouse then retired Michael Pritchard
and Rich Sanguinetti to end the inning, but not before the Huskers took a 3-0
Head Coach Mike Gillespie gave the ball to reliever Kyle Hooper to start the
eighth inning, where Christensen welcomed him with a mammoth solo shot over the
leftfield wall on the first pitch he saw from Hooper. The senior's first home
run of the season pushed Nebraska's lead to 4-0. Hooper retired the next two
Huskers he faced, before Kalkowski blasted a double off the wall in leftfield,
forcing Gillespie to turn ball over to Jimmy Litchfield. Darby stepped in and
was unable to keep the inning going with a groundout to first.
both pitchers posted 1-2-3 half innings in the first, the Huskers got the game's
first hits with a pair of two-out singles from Kalkowski and Darby in the top
of the second, but were unable to plate a run.
Spencer produced Irvine's first hit off Hander with a leadoff single in the
bottom of the second. NU's starter responded with back-to-back outs, but then
loaded the bases when he hit consecutive batters. With No. 9 hitter Justin
Castro up, Hander dug in and got a fly ball to keep the game scoreless.
was in a jam in the third when Hander issued a pair of walks, including a free
pass to Taylor to lead off the inning. With two down and runners on the
corners, Hander again came through, as he struck out Sparks looking with a
curve ball to end the inning.
retired his sixth straight Anteater to start the fifth, before Taylor placed a
grounder just inside the third-base bag for a one-out double. With a pair of
lefties due up for Irvine, Erstad went to Hirsch. The 6-4 lefty retired Irvine's
No. 2 and 3 hitters in order to keep the game scoreless through five innings.
Huskers and Anteaters meet for the rubber match of their three-game series
tomorrow at 1 p.m. back at Anteater Ballpark when NU's Brandon Pierce faces Irvine's
Andrew Morales . Following a trip to Disneyland on Monday, the Huskers play a
pair of games at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday and Wednesday.