Houston, Texas – Tom Lemke allowed one run over 5.2 innings, while DJ Belfonte drove in two runs, as the Nebraska baseball team downed Elon, 5-3, Sunday afternoon at the Rice Invitational.
Lemke (2-0) scattered four hits and took a shutout into the sixth, as Nebraska (3-4) picked up its third win in the last four games. The right-hander was efficient, facing one over the minimum over the first five innings and not allowing a runner to get into scoring position through five frames.
Four relievers preserved the win for Lemke, as the Phoenix (4-3) pushed across two runs in the top of the ninth and got the tying run on base on second, but Mike Nesseth fanned Mike Melillo to end the contest for the Big Red.
Belfonte drove in two runs on the afternoon, while Cory Burleson went 2-for-4 and scored twice to pace the Huskers’ 12-hit attack, as Nebraska pushed across runs in four of the first five frames to build a 4-0 cushion.
The Huskers strung together three straight two-out hits in the bottom of the first, getting an RBI single from Cade Thompson to take a 1-0 lead against Elon starter Daniel Britt. Adam Bailey and Tyler Farst started the rally with back-to-back singles before Thompson lined a 1-0 pitch to center, scoring Bailey with his first hit of the year.
Belfonte extended the Husker lead to 2-0 in the second, plating Burleson with an RBI fly ball to left. Burleson singled with one out before freshman Bryan Peters picked up his first collegiate hit, a double past third, to put two runners in scoring position. Belfonte then lofted the next pitch to left as Burleson just beat the throw of left fielder Nike Frasier to spot NU a two-run cushion.
Nebraska added to its margin in the fourth, getting a bases-loaded RBI single from Boomer Collins to make it a 3-0 game. Josh Scheffert walked to open the inning before Kyle Bubak’s single put runners on first and second. Two batters later, Peters was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Collins sent Britt’s 0-1 pitch to left for an RBI.
The Huskers chased Britt in the fifth, as single by Farst and Thompson put runners on first and second. Scheffert than greeted reliever John Brebbia with an RBI single past first, staking the Huskers to a 4-1 lead.
Lemke, who needed only 49 pitches to get through the fifth, ran into trouble in the sixth, as a leadoff walk to Seth Canipe and a hit batter with one outs gave the Phoenix their first scoring opportunity of the day. Lemke retired Niko Fraser for the second out, but Melillo put Elon on the scoreboard with an RBI double to right that Farst nearly made a spectacular play on.
Britt (0-1) allowed four runs on nine hits to take the loss for Elon.
The Huskers tacked on an insurance run in the eighth, as DJ Belfonte extended his hit streak to 10 games dating back to last season with an RBI single to plate Burleson, who got a one-out single and moved to second after Peters walked.
The Huskers will continue their season-opening 10-game road trip next weekend, as they travel to nationally ranked UCLA. Friday’s first pitch is at 8 p.m. and will be carried on selected Husker Sports Network stations and Huskers.com. There will be no live video of next weekend’s games.