Lincoln – Nebraska out-hit No. 12 Oklahoma, but was unable to get the timely hit, falling to the Sooners, 4-1, on a blustery day at Hawks Field Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers (11-11, 1-4 Big 12) totaled 10 hits to eight for Oklahoma, but stranded 13 base runners, including eight in scoring position against the Sooners, who improved to 20-2 and 3-0, on the season.
“We had 13 left on base and that was the difference today,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “You give them credit because they made the pitches. They were more disciplined than we were in their attack and it showed up.”
The Huskers had ample opportunities, as OU starter Bobby Shore and reliever Jeremy Erben worked out of jams all afternoon. The only time NU failed to get a base runner on base was in the ninth against closer Ryan Duke, who set the Huskers down in order for his Big 12-leading eighth save.
Shore allowed seven hits over five innings, but allowed only one run, a two-out RBI single by Kyle Bubak in the fourth to up his record to 4-0. Nebraska threatened every inning against the right-hander, loading the bases three times with one out, only to come up empty.
In the first, NU loaded the bases with one out on an error, walk and Josh Scheffert single, but could not capitalize, as Cody Asche flew out to shallow center and Scheffert was picked off as he was hung up between first and second on a ball that skipped away from OU catcher Bryan Groth.
Two innings later, NU loaded the bases again with one out with a single by Kale Kiser sandwiched around a pair of hit batters, but Shore got Asche to ground into an inning-ending double play to escape damage. In the fifth, a double by Bailey, a single by Tyler Farst and a walk to Asche loaded the bases, but Shore struck out Bryan Peters and escaped, as OU left fielder Casey Johnson made a sliding catch a liner from Cade Thompson that would have likely cleared the bases.
While NU was unable to convert, the Sooners took advantage of their opportunities, scoring all four of its runs in two-out situations, including a two-run single off the bat of Max White in the first and an RBI double from Chris Ellison in the fourth.
In the first, NU starter Michael Mariot fanned the first two hitters, but could not get out of the inning, as a single by Garrett Buechele, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases for White, who slapped a 1-2 pitch through the left side for a two-run single to stake the Sooners with a 2-0 lead.
OU extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth, as Ellison’s RBI double scored Johnson, but Mariot kept the potent Sooner offense in check for most of the afternoon. The Husker junior allowed three runs on six hits over 6.1 innings, as he fanned five but fell to 2-3 with the loss.
“Michael was very good and gave us a chance to win,” Anderson said. “The issue that Michael had is he has a inning or two in there that hurts us. When you are playing one of the top teams in the country, you can’t have an inning where you get the first two outs, loaded it up and then can’t get out of the inning the right way.”
Nebraska pushed a run across in the fourth, as Bryan Peters singled and eventually scored on Bubak’s two-out single to left in the fourth, but could not pull closer.
Peters and Kale Kiser had two hits apiece for the Huskers in a losing effort. OU added its final run in the ninth, as OU loaded the bases on a single, walk and hit by pitch before Caleb Bushyhead scored on a wild pitch from Jordan Roualdes.
The Huskers received more bad news after the game when x-rays showedthat freshman Josh Scheffert suffered a broken left hand when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning and will likely miss the rest of the season. Scheffert was hitting .317 with three homers and 19 RBIs, ranking among the team leaders in walks (12, second), RBIs (third), homers (third) and runs scored (16, fourth).
“He was a freshman hitting fourth and that tells you a lot about the type of player he is for us,” Anderson said. “The one thing that this team needed was grit and it didn’t matter what his average was or anything else, the young man knew how to play the game, so that hurts.”
Nebraska will look to salvage the finale Sunday at 1:05 p.m., as Tom Lemke (3-1, 4.50 ERA) looks for his fourth win of the season.
Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications