Lincoln – Nebraska’s offense struck early and often on its way to pounding out 21 hits in a dominant 13-3 victory over Penn State in the series opener on Friday night at Hawks Field. Eight Huskers posted multiple hits, including Ryan Boldt who recorded his fourth, four-hit game of the season. Nebraska is now 30-17 on the year and 11-5 during Big Ten play.
Nebraska totaled 19 singles on the night, with Blake Headley’s double and homer accounting for NU’s only extra-base hits.
Junior starter Chance Sinclair got off to an efficient start and faced the minimum nine batters through the first 3.0 innings. After running into trouble in the fourth, Sinclair finished the night by going 6.1 innings, while allowing three runs on five hits with five strikeouts to improve to 7-1 on the season.
After picking up hits in both the seventh and eighth innings, Taylor Fish tallied his first-career three-hit game and has produced eight of his 16 hits on the season in the seventh inning or later. Senior Michael Pritchard continued his strong play and extended his team-best 11-game hitting streak with an RBI single in the seventh. Pritchard finished the night 2-for-6 with three RBIs.
The Huskers also got a three-hit performance out of Headley, his team-high sixth of the season. The junior capped his three-hit night with a leadoff off homer in the bottom of the eighth into the visitor’s bullpen beyond the right field wall, his first long ball of the season.
Jake Placzek was on base four times on the night, as he was 2-for-2 at the plate and worked a pair of walks. The Huskers’ No. 2 hitter also scored three runs and laid down a pair of sacrifice bunts.
The Huskers are now 22-5 on the season when racking up double-digit hits, while the 21 hits were one shy of the season-high 22 hit the Huskers had against Kansas State on April 15. When outhitting opponents, the Big Red offense has amassed an impressive 23-1 record in 2014.
NU jumped on the scoreboard in the second inning thanks to a wild pick-off attempt that put a man on third. With two outs and facing a full count, freshman Ben Miller smashed a line drive up the middle that scored Steven Reveles from third to give NU an early 1-0 edge.
In the home-half of the third, Pat Kelly came to the dish with one down and runners on second and third. Waiting on a 3-1 pitch, the second baseman placed one in center field as Boldt and Placzek extended the Husker lead to 3-0. Three batters later, Headley increased NU’s lead to 5-0 after the first baseman ripped a two-RBI single back up the middle to plate Kelly and Austin Darby.
Penn State responded with three runs in the top of the fourth inning to cut into the NU lead. After a double to the gap scored a PSU runner from first, designated hitter Greg Guers capped the scoring with a two-run home run to right center field. It was the first home run of the year given up by Sinclair.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Huskers manufactured a two-out run when Darby connected on a 0-1 pitch for an RBI through the right side. Placzek touched home to bump NU’s advantage to 6-3 after six innings.
The Huskers blew the game open in the seventh with a five-run, six-hit performance to take a commanding 11-3 lead. Placzek got things started after he lined a 1-1 pitch to the opposite field that scored Miller who reached on an infield hit earlier in the frame. Two batters later, Pritchard went the other way and registered a two-RBI single as Boldt and Fish extended the lead to 9-3. Following an RBI single from Kelly, a fielder's choice RBI off the bat of Darby allowed Pritchard to score.
The Huskers capped their scoring with a pair of runs in the eighth to make the final score 13-3. Headley led off the inning with a towering home run to right field and Pritchard knocked a two-out single to right field that plated Christian Cox.
The Huskers will go for the series win tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle will have the call on the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com.