Asche Blasts Bears in 6-2 Husker Victory, Forces Rubber Match
Asche's career-high four-hit day guided the Huskers to a fifth inning lead that NU would not relinquish, as reliever Dylan Vogt (3-1) shutout the Bears over 2.2 innings, while Casey Hauptman picked up his seventh save of the year, moving him into a tie for sixth on the school's single-season save chart.
"It was a good day for us," head coach Mike Anderson said. "I've said this a lot this year, but it was the reverse of yesterday. We had a few breaks go our way. The wind helped us out a little bit. I thought we pitched well and the defense was strong. Dylan Vogt did a really good job of establishing a rhythm for us to shut them down, put up zeros and get us to Casey Hauptman. (Offensively) You can't say enough about Cody Asche. It was just a special day."
On a day when the 2001 College World Series team was honored before the game, Asche carried over the positive energy, doubling in each of his first two at bats before a pair of 2-run homers, increasing his Big 12-leading totals in both categories (21 doubles, 12 homers). After not having a hit in the last three games, the O'Fallon, Mo., native broke out of a minor slump in strong fashion with his 18th multiple-hit game of the season to pace a 10-hit Husker attack. Kash Kalkowski went 2-for-4 in the cleanup spot, while Patric Tolentino finished 2-for-3 with a run scored.
"As Cody goes, we probably go," Anderson added. "He's a strong hitter. If he's struggling at the plate a little bit, not only does he feel it, but it spreads out through our lineup. It makes it feel that if Cody's struggling, our 1 and 2 (hitters) have to do a little bit more and our four and five have to do a little bit more. That's really not the case, but that's what happens and that's the perception. When Cody's going it makes it easy for our entire team."
For the second straight game, both teams dealt with strong winds at Hawks Field. In the first inning, Asche had the game's first hit when his high pop up fell just inside the third base bag and he hustled to second for a standup double. In the third, the Huskers took a 1-0 lead on Asche's well-hit double to the warning track that BU center fielder Logan Vick was unable to carom. Nebraska starter Jon Keller put zeros on the board through the first three innings until the Bears scored a run in the fifth and sixth to take a 2-1 lead. Keller was relieved by Vogt with two outs in the fifth and struck out Dan Evatt to keep the game at a 1-run deficit.
Asche would deliver his first homer of the game in the bottom half of the inning, sending an 0-2 pitch into the right center field berm to score Kale Kiser and give NU a 3-2 lead. In his very next at-bat in the seventh inning, Asche blasted another 2-run shot, this time to straight away center field that landed just right of the trees in the hitters' eye. His second homer of the game brought home Bryan Peters, who led off the inning with a single up the middle.
Hauptman relieved Vogt with one out and a runner on second in the eighth and calmly struck out Evatt and Cal Towey to put the Huskers three outs away from tying up the series. Tolentino led off the eighth with a double down the left field line and later scored on a balk by BU reliever Trent Blank to give Hauptman a comfortable 6-2 lead. In the ninth, the Omaha, Neb., native notched his seventh save of the season, the most by a Husker since Matt Foust in 2007, by giving up only a 1-out single and retiring the other three Bears to complete the victory.
Nebraska and Baylor will play the rubber match of the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on Huskers.com or by visiting the Hawks Field box office beginning 90 minutes prior to the game.