Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications
Niederklein, Huskers Even Series with Baylor
Courtesy: NU Athletic Communications
Lincoln –Tyler Niederklein allowed one earned run over 5.2 innings, while Kale Kiser and Boomer Collins both homered to help Nebraska even the weekend series with a 6-2 win over Baylor Saturday afternoon.
Niederklein improved to 3-0 on the season, scattering eight hits and striking out a pair of Bears in the longest outing of his career. The freshman from Omaha showed maturity in his first Big 12 start, pitching out of jams throughout the afternoon.
“I didn’t strike too many guys out, but I used my defense and that was the key for me,” Niederklein said. “I came in and threw strikes, and when they got runners on base, I was able to keep my composure, move on to the next hitter and make clutch pitches when I had to.”
Niederklein needed his composure early after Kale Kiser’s solo homer staked NU a 1-0 lead. Baylor’s first two hitters both singled to open the bottom of the first, but Niederklein got Joey Hainsfurther to ground into a double play before Max Muncy flew out to right to end the threat.
“I was thrilled with how our freshmen pitchers did, and Tyler was key for us,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “He was in the zone throughout the day and made quality pitches in tough situations. When we got out of the first after they had runners on first and second with no outs, that was a big moment.”
After losing in the eighth last night, the Huskers jumped out to a 3-0 lead and relied on their young arms, as three freshmen - Niederklein, Chris Williams and Luke Bublitz – combined for eight solid innings before Sean Yost went the final inning, striking out Gregg Glime with the bases loaded.
Nebraska (19-20, 6-11 Big 12) built on the early lead, scoring single runs in both the second and third innings to extend the margin to 3-0. In the second, Cody Asche reached on an infield single, moved to second on a Chad Christensen sacrifice and eventually scored on a wild pitch from BU starter Craig Fritsch. In the third, one-out singles from DJ Belfonte, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, and Kale Kiser, who had two hits, including his second homer of the year, put runners on the corners before Adam Bailey lofted a sacrifice fly to left for his 51st RBI of the season
Fritsch (0-2) pitched well in the loss, allowing three runs on five hits over 5.0 innings of work, while striking out five Huskers.
Baylor (23-16, 6-9 Big 12) cut into the Husker lead, getting an RBI single by Hainsurther in the third before make it a one-run game in the sixth. With two outs and a runner on second, Raynor Campbell reached on a Christensen error, allowing pinch-runner Chris Slater to score to make it 3-2. Williams then came in for Niederklein and hit Landis Ware to load the bases, but Christensen redeemed himself, making a great play behind second on Logan Vick’s grounder, flipping to Kale Kiser for a force at second to end the threat.
“We had freshmen and sophomores in the infield and to win a game like this on the road is a huge step,” Anderson said. “The confidence and maturity they showed gives us a lot of hope.”
The Huskers extended the lead to 6-2 in the eighth with three runs off of reliever Willie Kempf. Boomer Collins opened the eighth with a pinch-hit homer to right. Belfonte then singled before Bailey drew a one-out walk to put runners on first and second. Kempf then uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position, while Glime’s throw to second bounced off the glove of Campbell, allowing Belfonte to score and Bailey to reach third. Josh Scheffert made it a four-run lead, slapping a single past the drawn-in infield to score Bailey.
After Bublitz tossed two scoreless frames, he walked Vick to open the ninth. Yost retired the first hitter he faced, and got Hainsfurther to ground into a fielder’s choice, but the ball was misplayed, putting two on. After getting Muncy to fly out, Don Lambert walked to load the bases and BU got the tying runner to the plate, but Yost struck out Glime to end the rally, as Baylor left 13 runners on base in the loss.
The series wraps up Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. and will be carried on the Husker Sports Network. Freshman Tom Lemke looks for his fifth win of the season, while Baylor has not announced it starter.