Aggies Strike Early, Top Huskers, 5-2
College Station, Texas - Ross Stripling allowed one run over eight innings, while No. 11 Texas A&M scored four runs in the first two innings en route to a 5-2 victory over Nebraska Saturday afternoon at Olsen Field.
Stripling (11-2) was in charge throughout the afternoon, setting down the first 12 Huskers in order and taking one-hit shutout into the eighth, as the Aggies (35-16, 17-6 Big 12) clinched the weekend series. The TAMU right-hander fanned six and walked one in an efficient outing.
"Stripling did a great job for them and gave them a strong outing," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. "He was in control the whole game and was able to keep us off balance."
The Aggies staked Stripling a solid cushion, scoring three times in the first and another run in the second against Husker starter Tyler Niederklein to jump to a 4-0 advantage.
In the first, a leadoff single by Tyler Naquin, a hit batter and a sacrifice put runners on second and third for the hosts before back-to-back RBI singles by Jacob House and Gregg Alcazar made it 2-0. Texas A&M eventually had runners on the corners with two outs before House scored from third on a double-steal attempt. The Huskers trapped Alcazer between first and second, but he was able to extend the play and allowed House to cross the plate.
The start of the game was key for them," Anderson said. "Giving up three runs in the first was tough to get back on. To win here, you need to get some momentum early and keep the pressure one. We did that last night, but didn't do it as well today. The guys kept never quit and kept battling and that allowed us to stay in the game, and I think our pitchers did a good job after the first inning."
Texas A&M made it 4-0 one inning later, as Andrew Collazo reached on a two-out single, stole second and came home on Naquin's second hit of the day an RBI single to right.
Niederklein, who had not allowed more than three runs in his last nine starts dating back to March 12, took the loss, as he allowed five runs on nine hits over 4.1 innings - his shortest conference start - to fall to 7-3 on the season. The Huskers bullpen received a strong effort from freshman lefty Zach Hirsch, who tossed a career-high 3.2 innings of two-hit, shutout ball.
After Texas A&M pushed the lead to 5-0 in the fourth after Kenny Jackson's RBI single, Nebraska put together its best threat against Stripling in the top of the fifth. Kash Kalkowski opened the frame with a single to center before the right-hander hit Kale Kiser to put two on with no outs. Stripling then regained his control, fanning the next three hitters to escape the jam and allowed only one more base runner until the eighth.
Nebraska broke Stripling's shutout bid in the eighth, as Chad Christensen doubled to open the frame and eventually scored on Michael Prichard's ground out.
The Huskers made it interesting against the Aggie bullpen in the ninth, as back-to-back walks to Cody Asche and Kalkowski put two on with no outs. NU pushed a run across on Kurt Farmer's grounder, but could not get closer, as Fleece retired all three Huskers he faced for the save.
The two teams will conclude the series Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. The game will be on the Husker Sports Network and also televised on Fox College Sports (Ch. 320 on Time Warner in Lincoln; Ch. 617 on DirecTV).