Lincoln – Freshman Ben Kline’s two-run single in the bottom of the sixth highlighted a four-run inning, as No. 8 Nebraska recorded a 4-3 victory over Creighton in front of 5,946 at Hawks Field Tuesday night.
Kline, who went 2-for-4 on the evening, came though with the game’s biggest hit, as his two-run single off of Kevin Dooley capped Nebraska’s four-run outburst, helping the Huskers (29-7-1) win the first game of the abbreviated two-game set.
Trailing 1-0, Nebraska strung together three hits and used some timely hitting to shake the offensive doldrums against the Bluejay bullpen after starter Greg Hellhake tossed five shutout innings. Jake Mort opened the inning with a sharp single to center before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Mitch Abeita’s RBI single to left tied the game at one. Craig Corriston was walked intentionally by Hauer before Belfonte walked to load the bases. TJ Roemmich then hit Dan Johnston to give NU a 2-1 lead before Kline roped a 1-0 pitch to left center to give Nebraska all the offense they needed.
Dan Jennings was the beneficiary of the Husker sixth inning, as he improved to 5-0 on the year. The left-hander went six innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out five, although his streak of consecutive shutout innings ended at 30.1 following Steve Winkelman’s sacrifice fly in the fourth that broke the shutout.
Creighton (25-14) broke the scoreless deadlock in the fourth, manufacturing a run off of Winkelman’s sacrifice fly. Robbie Knight walked to open the frame before a sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Darren Ruf’s single put runners on the corners before Winkelmann fouled out to DJ Belfonte, whose diving catch allowed the Bluejays to get on the scoreboard.
Hauer (6-2) took the loss, allowing all four runs on 0.2 innings, as the Bluejays used six pitchers on the evening.
The Bluejays pulled to within 4-3 in the seventh on Nick Nordgren’s two-run homer, but Zach Herr and Mike Nesseth combined for to shutout innings to preserve the win. Nesseth fanned Ruf in the eighth with the tying run on second before tossing a scoreless ninth for his third save.
The Huskers head to Omaha for the second game of the series Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. The game will be carried on 620 in Omaha (Cox Ch. 120) and on MyTV in Lincoln (Ch. 110) and Grand Island (Ch. 17).
Notes: Nebraska improves to 22-2-1 at Hawks Field in 2008...Dan Jennings' streak of 30.1 innings finished as the second-longest scoreless streak in school history, trailing only the 33.1 innings from Justin Pekarek in 2004...Nebraska is now 6-1 in one-run games this season...Nebraska now has 13 come-from-behind wins in its 29 wins this season...Ben Kline's 2-for-4 effort was his seventh mutlti-hit game of the year while his two RBIs marked his third multi-RBI contest of the year...the Husker win snapped a two-game losing streak to Creighton dating back to last year...Jennings has allowed two runs or less in five of his six starts this season and is now 6-0 in his collegiate career.
Head Coach Mike Anderson
“I thought both teams played very well. It was a pretty typical baseball game for us, a tight ballgame. We pitched well and hit OK at times and got a clutch hit. This is something we’ve been doing and continue to do. I felt really good about our kids and they’re attitude, even when we were down. I thought they pitched great in the beginning, did a lot of things that kept us off-balance. I give a lot of credit to their young man, their lefty.”
On if the game matched his expectations
“Absolutely. It’s going to be hard fought. They’re never going to give up, we know that. It’s just going to be hard fought. I think every inning is going to be that way.”
On Ben Kline’s clutch hit
“That was nice. He had a disappointing at bat earlier in the game and rolled over a pitch. I’ve always said this: some of the best teachers in our game are players themselves. After that at-bat, we had some of our pitchers, some of our hitters, a lot of our dugout guys got with him in a good way, really encouraged him, got on him at times in a good way too. I thought he was very focused in his last at-bats. I think that has a lot to do with his teammates. I really do.”
On playing Creighton in Omaha tomorrow
“It’s nice, we can sleep in our own beds tonight, kids go to school and away we go, we start all over. We’re looking forward to it. This is different for us with Creighton because it’s usually a game and then we see them a week later or two weeks later. Some of the tendencies are fresh in your mind, so we’ll see how that plays out and this is something we may attempt to do in the future, just because it might be better for both our programs to go back-to-back that way.”