Lincoln – Aaron Pribanic made his first Division I start a memorable one, tossing a complete-game five hitter in Nebraska’s 13-1 victory over UC Riverside Sunday afternoon.
Pribanic, a junior right-hander from Plano, Texas, fanned five and scattered five singles over seven innings, as the contest was shortened by the run-rule.
Head Coach Mike Anderson was impressed by both Pribanic’s pitching and maturity in battling through a blustery afternoon.
“Aaron’s throwing well right now and throwing strikes,” Anderson said. “He’s made so many nice adjustments from a mechanical standpoint from the fall until now. (Pitching Coach) Eric (Newman) has done an incredible job with him. He’s very composed. You have a day like this, and it’s a tough day to pitch in. That’s four quality starts for us this weekend and we feel really good about that.”
One thing that made it easier for Pribanic was an offensive attack that staked him an 11-0 lead after three innings. The Huskers, who swept a four-game series for the first time in nearly three years, pounded out 14 hits, including three from Jake Opitz, who drove in three runs, and two hits and two RBIs from Jake Mort, Cody Neer and Bryce Nimmo.
Optiz got the Huskers going in the bottom of the first, as his RBI single to right scored Mort for the game’s first run. Two batters later, Mitch Abeita made it a 2-0 game, scoring Opitz on an RBI single to center.
Nebraska chased UC Riverside starter Eddie Orozco in the second, sending 11 men to the plate in a five-run outburst. Neer was the catalyst in the frame, going 2-for-2 with a double and a two-run RBI single. Craig Corriston, DJ Belfonte and Opitz all added run-scoring hits, as Orozco (0-2) allowed six runs on seven hits in just 1.2 innings to take the loss.
“We were very aggressive and had good discipline at the plate today,” Anderson said. “With a freshman on the mound, we wanted to get at them offensively and start attacking early.”
The Huskers took advantage of a pair of Highlander errors in the third, extending the lead to 11-0. After the first two hitters reached on errors, Mort cleared the bases with a two-run triple to left center before scoring on an Opitz sacrifice fly.
UC Riverside had its best chance to get in the game in the fourth, putting runners on the corners before Tony Nix’s RBI single broke the shutout. Pribanic worked out of trouble, getting Ben Price to strike out to end UCR’s best offensive threat.
The Huskers tacked on their final two runs in the fifth, as Nimmo’s two-run triple to right off of Mike Wolford scored Brett Sowers and Abeita.
The Huskers return to action on Tuesday afternoon, as they host Nebraska-Kearney at 1:35 p.m. at Hawks Field. Fans can listen to all of the action on selected Husker Sports Network stations, including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln, and on the Internet at Huskers.com