Los Angeles, Calif. – Khiry Cooper tied a career high with three hits, including an RBI, but Nebraska’s comeback fell short in a 5-3 loss to No. 14 UCLA Friday night.
Nebraska (3-6) trailed 5-1 in the eighth before scoring twice against a stout UCLA bullpen to make it a two-run game. NU loaded the bases on an error, a Josh Scheffert single and a hit batter, before bruin closer Dan Klein came in to face Kale Kiser.
The Husker second baseman sent the first pitch he saw to center for an RBI single to make it a 5-2 game. Cooper then hit a smash up the middle that hit Klein in the leg and rolled away for an RBI infield single. Belfonte tried to keep the rally alive, but his hard-hit grounder was stopped by a diving Justin Uribe, who flipped to Klein to nip the Husker leadoff hitter at first to end the threat.
That would be the Huskers’ last gasp, as Klein set Nebraska in order in the ninth for his second save, completing the Bruins’ doubleheader sweep. The two teams will wrap up the series Saturday at 3 p.m. (central), as the start time was moved up an hour because of weather concerns.
Cooper, who went 3-for-4 and posted his first three-hit game since Feb. 22, 2009, and Kiser, who had two hits and an RBI, accounted for half of the Huskers’ 10 hits in the bottom two spots in the lineup.
Trevor Bauer was strong for the Bruins (8-0), scattering six hits over 6.2 innings while fanning 10 Huskers for the win, as he took a shutout into the seventh.
Early on, the Huskers were unable to take advantage of opportunities, while UCLA capitalized on its chance to build a 4-0 lead.
In the second, the Huskers got runners on second and third with no outs after a Tyler Farst single and a Cody Asche double. With Scheffert at the plate, Bauer’s pitch popped out of the glove of catcher Trevor Brown and skipped behind him. Farst tried to score from third, but Brown found the ball behind him and got Farst in a rundown between third and home. Bauer then settled down and got Scheffert to ground out before Patric Tolentino flew out to end the rally.
UCLA scratched across a run in the bottom half of the frame, getting a two-out RBI single from Dean Espy to score Cody Keefer, who singled and moved into scoring position after advancing to second on a Brett Krill’s foul out to right. Espy went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, as UCLA out-hit Nebraska, 11-10.
The Bruins used some timely hitting in the fourth against Husker starter Michael Mariot to push the lead to 3-0. After a leadoff double by Blair Dunlap, Tyler Rahmatulla laid down a bunt single to put runners at the corners. Justin Uribe drove in one run with a well-executed safety squeeze before Rahmatulla scored on Cody Keefer’s RBI double.
Niko Gallego extended the lead to 4-0 in the fifth with his third homer of the year, a solo shot to left before Mariot found his groove. The Husker right-hander put down nine straight Bruins, allowing NU to finally crack the scoreboard in the seventh against Bauer. In the frame, NU strung together three straight two-out singles to pull to within 4-1. Kiser and Cooper had back-to-back base hits to end Bauer’s night before Belfonte greeted Matt Grace with an RBI single to score Kiser.
The Bruins would get the run back in the bottom of the inning against Mariot, as Espy led off with a single and eventually scored on a two-out infield hit off the bat of Rahmatulla.
Mariot (0-2) kept the Huskers in the game, as he went six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits in keeping the Bruins to its lowest output of the year.
Saturday’s game will be carried on selected Husker Sports Network stations and on Huskers.com.