Lincoln - A five-run fourth inning gave the Nebraska baseball team a 5-4 lead on Sunday afternoon at Hawks Field, but the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs responded with two runs in the top of the fifth and held on to the lead for a 6-5 victory to avoid a sweep in the four-game series.
Pat Kelly, Rich Sanguinetti and Josh Scheffert each had two hits on the day, including a home run from Kelly and two doubles from Sanguinetti, but the Huskers were doomed by the 12 runners they left on base. The Huskers had chances to tie or retake the lead with at least one runner in scoring position to end the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Sanguinetti nearly tied the game with a pinch-hit double in the sixth, but Kale Kiser was cut down at the plate on a relay from center field.
For the second straight game the Bulldogs took the lead to start the game, as they scored three runs on four hits off NU starter Tyler Niederklein in the top of the first. Five of the Bulldogs' first six batters reached base on four singles and a walk, before Niederklein got consecutive outs to end the threat. The Bulldogs added another run in the second when leadoff hitter Sam Alvis worked a one-out walk and scored on a double from Ryan Gebhardt.
After managing just two hits through the first three innings, the Huskers broke through with five runs in the bottom of the forth. Chad Christensen led off the inning with a single and bases were soon loaded with no outs following consecutive walks to Scheffert and Kurt Farmer. Cory Burleson drove in the Huskers' first run of the game on an infield single, while Kiser and Bryan Peters each knocked in a run on RBI groundouts. With one on and two out, Kelly swung the momentum in the Huskers' favor with a two-run home run to left field to give NU its first lead of the game at 5-4.
The momentum didn't stay with the Huskers for long, as Bre'shon Kimbell led off the top of the fifth with a double off reliever Luke Bublitz. The Husker righty then retired the next two batters he faced, but gave up a towering two-run home run to Taylor Burch, which was the eventual game winner.
NU had a runners on second and third with one out in the eighth and a runner on second with one out in the ninth, but was able to get a timely hit to drive in the tying run.
Now 14-7 on the season, the Huskers will be off tomorrow before hosting two-game series with the Northern Colorado Bears starting on Tuesday, March 20, at 6:35 p.m. Freshman Kyle Kubat is scheduled to start his third game of the season on Tuesday night, while the Huskers will send lefty Zach Hirsch to the mound on Wednesday at 1:35 p.m. Northern Colorado's starters are yet to be announced.
The Huskers open Big Ten Conference on Friday, March 23, with a three-game series against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Friday's game is scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch and there will be fireworks after the game.