Lincoln – Craig Corriston’s two-run single in the bottom of the seventh helped No. 9 Nebraska overcome a 6-5 deficit, as the Huskers rallied for a 7-6 victory over Kansas Friday evening at Hawks Field.
Corriston came through with the game’s biggest hit, driving a bases-loaded single through the left side off of Kansas closer Paul Smyth, scoring Jake Mort and Jake Opitz and helping Nebraska (27-6-1, 12-3-1 Big 12) to its 11th come-from-behind win of the year.
Johnny Dorn (5-1) earned the win, battling through 7.2 innings, as the senior allowed six runs on nine hits, but kept the Jayhawks off the scoreboard after the fifth. Dorn reached double figures in strikeouts for the third time this year with 11 strikeouts.
Dan Jennings closed the door on Kansas, fanning three over 1.1 scoreless innings, as he has not allowed a run in his last 26.2 innings. Jennings, who leads NU with four saves, snuffed out Kansas’ final rally in the ninth, as the Jayhawks got runners on the corners, but the Husker left-hander got Erik Morrison to foul out to Mort to end the game.
Trailing 6-5 in the seventh, the Huskers got to Kansas starter Nick Czyz (2-4) for a pair of runs to take the lead for good. Jake Mort got the rally started, capping a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off three full count pitches before sending a sharp single to center. Czyz then walked Jake Opitz before reliever Brett Bollman loaded the bases by walking Mitch Abeita. Smyth came in to face Corriston, but the Husker first baseman came through, sending a 1-1 pitch to left to give the Huskers the go-ahead runs.
“I thought it was just a hard-fought ballgame both ways,” Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson said. “Give credit to Kansas. I thought they did a good job of fighting. On our side, I didn’t think we executed very well tonight. I don’t think we were very sharp on the offensive end. We were very fortunate to have some things happen. The nice thing about this team – we may not hit, we may not do this – we get a clutch hit and end up winning the game. The one constant in our offense is a clutch hit each time.”
Anderson said that Mort’s at-bat provided the spark the Huskers needed on a cold spring evening.
“That was a great at-bat,” Anderson said. “He fought some pitches off and had his best swing he’s had in a long time. I thought the discipline he had in that at-bat was probably the best he’s had all year.”
Abeita led NU by going 2-for-3 with an RBI while DJ Belfonte and Bryce Nimmo drove in runs, as Nebraska improved to 20-1-1 at Hawks Field. The Huskers, who were out-hit, 10-8 on the night, took advantage of a pair of costly Kansas miscues, turning them into three unearned runs, while NU pitchers matched a season high with 14 strikeouts.
Trailing 1-0 in the second, the Huskers scored a pair of unearned runs, only to see Kansas respond with two runs in the third on RBI singles by Ryan Price and Preston Land to regain the lead at 3-2. The Huskers came right back, getting an Abeita RBI single to knot the game at 3-all before taking a two-run lead in the fourth, using a key double steal and a Jayhawk miscue to take a 5-3 lead.
Kansas came right back in the fifth, scoring three runs off Dorn to regain the lead. One-out walks to Buck Afenir and Ryne Price were costly as Morrison cleared the bases with a two-run double to tie the game. Two batters later, Tony Thompson’s run-scoring single put KU ahead before Dorn settled down, setting down the next nine Jawhawks before Nick Faunce coaxed a two-out walk in the eighth.
Thompson and Morrison drove in two runs apiece for Kansas (24-17, 4-9 Big 12), which saw their five-game win streak snapped.
The Huskers and Jayhawks will continue the series Saturday afternoon at 3:35 p.m. The game will be carried on the Huskers Sports Network and at Huskers.com. Fans who have purchased tickets to Saturday’s baseball game and the football Red/White game can park in the Haymarket Park lot beginning Saturday morning.