Lincoln, Neb. -
Nebraska (18-10, 1-3) fell behind early when Oklahoma State (20-6, 4-3) homered four times in an eight-run second inning and fell to the Cowboys in the series opener, 12-7, on Friday night at Hawks Field. The defeat put a stop on Nebraska's nine-game home winning streak.
"It was a rough (second) inning," head coach Mike Anderson said. "You start to second guess a lot of things. Matt (Freeman) deserved it - because of what he's done over the course of this year - to try and work through that inning. He deserved to keep going because of what he did in the first. What a contrast in innings between the first and the second."
Freeman (4-2) started the game with a dominant first inning, striking out the side on only 11 pitches, including seven straight strikes in his first home Big 12 start. The Omaha, Neb., native then saw the Cowboys come back to score eight runs on eight hits in the second before he was relieved by Tom Lemke. It marked the shortest start of the season for Freeman, who has ranked among the Big 12 hurlers in ERA this season as he entered the night ranked 10th in ERA (1.77) and sixth in wins (4).
Behind the bats of Cory Burleson and Kurt Farmer, the Huskers attempted to chip away at the deficit and trailed 9-5 after four innings. That was when Burleson had one of NU's most impressive at-bats of the season with a 14-pitch battle from the left side of the plate that resulted in a three-run homer into the right field bullpen. Burleson, a switch hitter from Midland, Texas, then hit a solo shot to right field from the right side in the bottom of the ninth inning to give NU its final run and account for the 12-7 margin.
While Burleson finished 2-for-4 with a career-high four RBIs, Farmer had his fourth three-hit game of the season, going 3-for-3 with an RBI. His RBI double down the left field line gave Nebraska its first run of the game in the second inning before he also singled and scored in the fourth on Burleson's first homer and then doubled and scored in the sixth.
Kale Kiser added a solid 2-for-5 night and hit a solo homer to lead off the third inning, helping NU on its way to three home runs in the game, the most by the Huskers this season.
OSU starter Mike Strong (3-0) went five innings to pick up the win, while Randy McCurry threw the final four to earn the save. Nebraska used five pitchers on the night, highlighted by underclassmen Nick Dolsky and Zach Hirsch throwing a combined three scoreless innings from the sixth to eighth frames.
Nebraska and Oklahoma State continue the series Saturday afternoon with a 2:05 p.m. first pitch. The game will be televised statewide on NET and streamed free on Huskers.com. It will also be Hometown Husker Day for Columbus in honor of sophomore infielder Kurt Farmer.