Fresno, Calif. – Nebraska rapped out 15 hits, but struggled to slam the door in the late innings, allowing Fresno State to escape with a 10-9 victory in 11 innings Sunday night at Beiden Field.
The Huskers (0-3) led 8-6 in the ninth, only to see the Bulldogs (3-0) score twice in the frame to send the game into extra innings and were unable to hold a one-run lead as Fresno State scored twice in the bottom of the 11th. Bryan Gowens tied the score in the 11th with an RBI double and eventually crossed with the winning run on a wild pitch from Chase Adams to give the Bulldogs their second walk-off winner of the weekend.
“It is kind of early to say this in the season, but we are a little snake-bit right now,” Anderson said. "We need to demonstrate we can finish it off. We are doing some good things, and hopefully these games will help us down the road when we get in these situations again.”
In the 11th, a leadoff walk to Danny Muno by Mike Nesseth started the rally before Gowens tied the game with a one-out RBI double to left over Boomer Collins, who stumbled on his break to catch the ball. The Bulldogs eventually loaded the bases, and Adams struck out David Scott for the second before his 2-2 pitch went to the backstop, allowing Gowens, who went 3-for-6 on the day, to score.
The Huskers overcame an early 4-1 deficit with its best offensive showing of the year, as Adam Bailey and DJ Belfonte both tied career highs with four hits apiece. Bailey belted his first homer of the year and drove in three runs, while Belfonte had one of NU’s seven stolen bases – NU’s highest single-game totals since 2006. Freshman Josh Scheffert went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in his collegiate debut for the Big Red.
“We were much more disciplined and had a better approach," Anderson said. “We had situations where we could have extended the lead, but didn’t, and that is part of learning how to finish.”
Nebraska jumped out quickly, as Belfonte opened the game with a triple to right center and scored on Kyle Bubak’s sacrifice fly to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs came back, taking advantage of some wildness from starter Khris Tate to push across four runs. Tate ran into trouble in the soggy conditions, walking two and hitting another to load the bases before Hauptman allowed an RBI single to Isaac Vivas, a run-scoring grounder by Bobby Coyle and a two-run bloop single to Garrett Weber to make it a 4-1 game.
The Huskers would strike back in the fourth, as Bailey’s first homer of the season tied the game at four. Cody Asche broke an 0-for-10 slump with a single to open the frame and Tyler Farst walked to put two on for Bailey, who launched a three-run shot to right off of starter Josh Poytress to tie the score.
Hauptman pitched well in keeping the Huskers in the game after Tate’s early struggles, setting down seven in a row at one point and tossing 4.1 innings of relief, as NU regained the lead with three runs in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Collins plated Asche with an RBI single off of Zac Bischoff and stole second before Cory Burleson coaxed a walk to put two on. Scheffert than cleared the bases with a two-run double to put NU ahead 7-4.
The Bulldogs chipped away, scoring once in the sixth and once in the seventh to get within 7-6 before Nebraska added an insurance run in the eighth on Scheffert’s third hit of the day, an RBI single.
Jordan Roualdes, who had allowed one unearned run in his first 2.1 innings, ran into trouble, as Weber opened the ninth with a single before Muno’s single was misplayed by DJ Belfonte for a two-base error, allowing Weber to score and Muno to reach third as the tying run. Nesseth came in and got Dusty Robinson to hit a grounder to Bubak that was ruled a hit, tying the score at eight. Nesseth then worked out of trouble, getting Gowens to ground into a double play and escaped further damage.
The Huskers regained the lead for the final time in the 11th, as Bailey reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error before coming home on a wild pitch from Greg Gonzalez. NU kept the rally going, getting runners on second and third, but Gonzales fanned Khiry Cooper to end the threat.
The two teams will wrap up the four-game series Monday night at 8:05 p.m. (Central). The game will be on selected Husker Sports Network stations, including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln, KFAB 1110 AM in Omaha and KRVN 880 in Lexington, and on Huskers.com.