Lincoln – Jake Opitz’s two-run double in the fifth inning broke a 2-all tie, as Nebraska extended its win streak to 10 games with a 7-3 victory over South Dakota State Tuesday afternoon at Hawks Field.
Opitz gave Nebraska the lead for good, roping a two-out, two-run double off of SDSU’s Isaac Johnson into the corner in right, scoring Dan Johnston and DJ Belftonte to give NU a two-run lead.
Opitz was one of two Huskers to drive in a pair of runs on Tuesday, as Johnston came off the bench to deliver a pair of RBIs – the first two of his career – and score twice. Craig Corriston tied his career high with three hits, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Mitch Abeita also chipped in a pair of hits for the victors, who open Big 12 play at Kansas State on Friday with an 11-2 mark.
With Tuesday’s win, the Huskers completed a perfect 10-game homestand and have won 12 straight at Hawks Field, their longest win streak since a 21-game home win streak during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
The Jackrabbits pulled to within 4-3 on Stephen Turner’s sixth-inning RBI single, but Nebraska came back with a run in the bottom of the frame and added two more in the eighth to pull away.
In the sixth, consecutive singles by Corriston and Cody Neer put runners on the corners with one out before Johnston, who entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch runner, lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score Corriston with NU’s fifth run.
Johnson (0-2) took the loss, allowing two runs on four hits over 2.0 innings of work.
Nebraska’s freshmen keyed a two-run eighth inning, getting run-scoring singles by Johnston and Ben Kline. Corriston opened the inning with a double before freshman Brett Sowers added a pinch-hit single to put runners on the corner with no outs. Johnson made it a 6-3 game with a single to center before Kline’s single to right center plated Sowers and gave the Huskers a four-run lead.
The Huskers relied on their youth on Tuesday, as seven freshmen saw extensive action, including four of Nebraska’s seven hurlers. Michael Mariot (1-0) earned his first collegiate win with an inning of relief, as no pitcher threw more than three innings, as the staff combined for 10 strikeouts and just one walk.
Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson was impressed by the freshmen pitchers, who helped limit South Dakota State (4-7) to just six hits on the day, including none in the last three innings.
“I think the best thing that happened today was to see some good, young freshmen come out,” Anderson said. “We were trying to get some pitching things done. A lot of those freshmen came out more composed than they were the last time. It was a good improvement, good to see. We started off a little slow offensively, but that’s one of our typical days. We just put some runs on the board each inning.”
The Huskers opened the scoring in the top of the first, as Belfonte opened game with a double before eventually scoring on a wild pitch by SDSU starter Mike Robinson. Nebraska extended the lead to 2-0 in the fourth, as Abeita singled, stole second and came home on Corriston’s RBI single.
The Jackrabbits got on the scoreboard in the fifth, loading the bases against Mariot before Kroby Mintken’s two-run single tied the game and snapped a streak of 23 straight consecutive shutout innings by the Husker bullpen.
The Huskers return to action on Friday night, as they travel to Manhattan, Kan., to begin a three-game series. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be carried on the Husker Sports Network, including KLIN in Lincoln, KFAB in Omaha and on the Internet at Huskers.com.