Lincoln – Erik Bird tossed five shutout innings for his third win of the year, while Tyler Farst and Jake Opitz drove in two runs apiece, as sixth-ranked Nebraska posted a 6-1 win over Western Illinois Wednesday afternoon at Hawks Field.
Bird (3-1) scattered three hits to earn his third straight decision, as the junior combined with three relievers to hold Western Illinois (10-25) scoreless until Cooper Stewart drew a two-out bases-loaded walk in the ninth. The only time Bird ran into trouble was in the third, as the Leathernecks loaded the bases with one out, but Bird retired the next two hitters to escape trouble and set down the final eight hitters he faced.
"It was kind of a typical day for us, to go out and get six runs and some good pitching, clutch hitting," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said after the Huskers improved to 34-8-1. "I thought our defense played very well today. It was good to see all the way around. It was good to see (Erik) Bird give us a good start. Good to see some of our other guys, especially (Aaron) Pribanic, come in and have a good performance today."
While Bird and the pitching staff kept WIU’s offense in check, Farst came through with the game’s big hit, a two-run bases-loaded double in the bottom of the third off of Leatherneck starter Frank Zenisek (1-2).
With one out, Bryce Nimmo singled before Jake Mort’s double put runners on second and third. Jake Opitz was walked intentionally to load the bases before Farst sent an 0-1 pitch into the corner in left, scoring Nimmo and Mort to give NU a 2-0 lead. Zenisek then hit DJ Belfonte to load the bases before he hit Nick Sullivan for the Huskers’ third run of the inning.
Farst, making his first start of the year at first base, went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs as he replaced Craig Corriston, who had knee surgery earlier today, in the lineup.
"He has had that role before," Anderson said. "He did it at junior college before. It’s the first time we have put him in that role as a four-hole hitter at Nebraska, but he understands. He is not a home run guy; he is going to be a gap to gap guy. If he goes in and starts to find a little bit of rhythm, we might get him hot at the right time."
The Huskers used the hustle of Nick Sullivan to extend the lead to 4-0 in the fifth, as he doubled with two out, stole third and scored on a throwing error on the subsequent throw from Stewart.
Nebraska increased its lead to 6-0 in the seventh, as Mort was hit by a pitch and came home on Jake Opitz’s sixth homer of the season, a two-run blast to right center.
The Huskers will return to action Friday night, as they begin a three-game series with Louisiana-Lafayette. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. and the game will be carried on the Husker Sport Network.
Corriston to Undergo Surgery
Lincoln – Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson announced prior to Wednesday’s game that senior first baseman Craig Corriston will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery later today.
An MRI examination earlier this week showed a tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee, and although the procedure is not anticipated to be season ending, the Husker coaching and medical staff is optimistic that Corriston will have a speedy recovery.
Corriston has appeared in 35 games, hitting .323 with four homers and 28 RBIs for the sixth-ranked Huskers, who defeated Western Illinois, 6-1, Wednesday afternoon.