Manhattan, Kan. – No. 20 Kansas State broke open a 1-1 deadlock with six runs in the sixth, spoiling a strong performance by freshman Tom Lemke in taking the rubber game of the series, 8-3 Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
Lemke allowed just three hits over the first five innings before Nick Martini opened the sixth with a single. After a sacrifice moved him to second, Jordan Roualdes came into face the left-handed hitting Kent Urban, but Urban blooped a single into right, putting runners on the corners.
Casey Hauptman then came into to try and get the Huskers out of trouble, but pinch hitter Chase Graskewicz laid down a perfect bunt between the mound and first to drive in the go-ahead run, while the attempted throw home was wide, moving both runners into scoring position. A run-scoring infield single by Matt Giller and a RBI single by Blair DeBord made it 4-1 before Jake Brown’s squeeze push home another run. Carter Jurica then capped the six-run outburst with a two-run single, putting the Wildcats up 7-1.
“Tom did a good job pitching and putting us in a position to win with it being 1-1 in the sixth,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “We got to where we wanted to be with Casey on the mound, but unfortunately, they took advantage on some bunts and we lost a little of our composure in that situation. We knew they were coming, but we didn’t execute, and you to execute in those situations. We gave them too many outs in that inning.”
Lemke threw well in defeat, allowing two runs on four hits to fall to 4-3 on the year, as the Huskers (16-16, 4-8 Big 12) failed to take advantage of early opportunities, putting only one run on the board through the first seven frames.
Nebraska got on the board in the top of the first on Chad Christensen’s RBI single. With one out, Kale Kiser singled to center. Adam Bailey grounded to Urban, who stepped on first base for one out, but threw wildly to second, allowing Kiser to reach third. Christensen, who has driven in a run in eight of his last 10 games, than slapped a single through the right side to score Kiser.
Kiser went 3-for-5 with two runs scored in his first career three-hit day, while Christensen, who hit in the cleanup spot for the first time on Sunday, tied a career high with three hits, as the duo totaled six of Nebraska’s 10 hits.
Kansas State got the run back in the bottom half of the frame, as Jurica doubled with one out and scored on Nick Martini’s RBI single to center.
Jurica went 3-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored, while Martini had two hits on the day for Kansas State (23-6, 6-3 Big 12) picked up its first home series win over Nebraska since 2002 and remained in second place in the Big 12 race.
The Huskers consistently had base runners on against KSU starter Ryan Daniel, but the right-handed made tough pitches and held Nebraska scoreless after the first. NU left runners in scoring position in both the second and fourth and had leadoff singles erased on double plays in both the third and fifth frames.
Christensen’s third hit of the afternoon opened the sixth for the Huskers and chanced Daniel, but Evan Marshall retired the next two hitters on fielder’s choices before Boomer Collins was thrown out trying to steal second to end the threat. Marshall (3-1) was the beneficiary of KSU’s sixth-inning offense, pitching 2.2 innings of relief to earn the victory.
Nebraska pulled to within 7-3 in the eighth, getting an RBI double from Adam Bailey and a RBI single from Asche, but Jurica quickly pushed the lead back to five runs with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning for the final margin.
The Huskers return home to begin a four-game homestand Tuesday night, as Nebraska takes on Wichita State. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 800-8-BIGRED or visiting Huskers.com.