Manhattan, Kan. –Michael Mariot pitched seven solid innings, while Adam Bailey belted two homers and drove in four runs, leading Nebraska to a 5-3 victory at No. 20 Kansas State Friday night
Mariot (3-4) was exceptional against the league’s top hitting squad, scattering five hits and striking out a season-high seven Wildcats to hand Kansas State (21-6, 4-3 Big 12) just their second home loss in 13 contests.
“Michael did a great job tonight,” Anderson said. “He pitched to win instead of just pitching. When he got in trouble, he pitched out of hit and kept them off balance all night. It starts and ends with pitching, and we got a great pitching performance all the way around tonight.”
Mariot, who had pitched into the seventh in each of his last six starts, worked around trouble most of the night and made big pitches when he had to. In the third after Nebraska took a 3-0 lead, KSU loaded the bases with one out, but Mariot struck out Nick Martini and Daniel Dellasega, the No. 3-4 hitters in the KSU lineup, to get out of the jam.
Mariot’s awareness was crucial in the sixth, as his heads-up play killed a Wildcat rally with Nebraska leading 4-2. With one out and a runner on first, Matt Giller reached on a fielder’s choice behind the bag at second. Chad Christensen’s throw was wide of the bag on the play, and Mike Kindel tried to advance to third on the play, but Mariot picked up the ball and fired to third to get Kindel for the second out.
“I saw Chad dive to make a great play and didn’t think he could get the double play, so I stayed near the bag,’ Mariot said. “ After he just missed (second baseman Bryan) Peters, I saw the ball laying there and the runner going toward third, and said there is no way the runner is going to get to third now. So I went after the ball and threw to third. I didn’t have a good grip on the ball, but made a good throw to get him.”
“That was a huge play,” Anderson said. “Michael made a great play in backing up the throw and getting the runner out on the play.”
While Mariot’s efforts keyed the Husker pitching attack, Bailey continued to swing a hot stick with two homers, his 11th and 12th of the year, and matched his season high with four RBIs. It marked his second multi-homer game of his career and his 16th multi-RBI game of 2010.
Nebraska jumped ahead in the top of the third on Bailey’s three-run homer off of KSU starter Justin Lindsey. With one out, DJ Belfonte was hit by a pitch before Kale Kiser walked to put runners on first and second. Bailey then sent Lindsey’s next offering over the fence in center to stake Nebraska to a 3-0 cushion.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the fourth, pushing across two runs against Mariot. Kent Urban was hit by a pitch to open the frame before Kindel’s double off the wall in center put runners on second and third with no outs. Giller drove in one run with a grounder to second before Blair DeBord’s grounder to short scored Kendel and made it a one-run game.
Nebraska extended its lead to 4-2 off of Lindsey (2-1) in the fifth, getting a two-out RBI single from Tyler Farst. Belfonte doubled to open the frame and moved to third on Kale Kiser’s sacrifice bunt before Farst placed a 2-2 pitch between third and short to drive in Belfonte.
The Huskers made it a 5-2 game in the seventh on Bailey’s second round tripper of the night, a solo homer to right center off of Thomas Rooke before the Husker bullpen held of a late KSU challenge. Dellasega opened the eighth with a double to left center, but Jordan Roualdes and Casey Hauptman set down the next three hitters, including two strikeouts by Hauptman, to give NU a three-run lead in the ninth.
DeBord and Jake Brown opened the ninth with singles to get the tying run to the plate for the Wildcats. Hauptman retired the next two hitters before Nick Martini extended his hit streak to 24 games with an RBI single to make it a two-run game. Hauptman then got out of the jam by getting Dellasega to fly out to right to earn his third save in as many chances.
The two teams will continue the series Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., as Khris Tate looks for his third straight win. The game will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and Huskers.com, but no video will be available on HuskersNside.