Columbia, Mo. – Mitch Abeita homered and drove in three runs, while Tyler Farst had two hits, including a homer, but it was not enough, as the fifth-ranked Huskers fell to Missouri, 22-9, Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s loss eliminated the Huskers (39-11-1 17-8-1 Big 12) from Big 12 regular-season title contention, as Texas A&M can wrap up the regular-season conference crown and the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big 12 Championship with a win over Texas either later tonight or on Sunday.
Nebraska dug itself two deep a hole early on, as the Tigers (36-17, 15-11 Big 12) scored four runs in the first and six more in both the second and third innings to put the game out of reach early.
Steve Gray went 4-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs, while Greg Folgia homered and drove in six runs, delivering a three-run triple in the second and a three-run homer in the fifth. Jonah Schmidt and Andrew Thigpen had four RBIs apiece for the Tigers, who locked up the No. 4 seed and will play Texas Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
Abeita, who saw his 17-game hit streak end on Friday, matched his career high with three hits and drove in three runs, including his ninth homer of the year, while Farst continued his strong play of late, going 2-for-4 with his first career homer and drove in a pair of runs. Bryce Nimmo added three hits and drove in a pair of runs for Nebraska, which dropped only its second series in conference play.
The Huskers got on the board in the top of the first, getting a two-out RBI single from Nick Sullivan. After a leadoff single from Nimmo, Abeita’s two-out single put runners on the corners. Sullivan then found the hole between through the right side to drive in Nimmo with the game’s first run.
Missouri came right back in the bottom of the first, taking advantage of some wildness from starter Thad Weber to plate four runs. Consecutive one-out walks to Ryan Lollis and Aaron Senne started the rally before back-to-back run-scoring singles by Jacob Priday and Trevor Coleman put the Tigers up 2-1. Gray lofted a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 3-1 before Andrew Thigpen’s infield single off Weber’s foot put the Huskers in a three-run hole.
Nebraska chipped away at the deficit, using a single and three hit batters to pull within 4-2 in the top of the second. A Farst single and two hit batters loaded the bases with one out for the Huskers. Bryce Nimmo hit a grounder to Gray at first, who fired home to get the force play for the second out of the inning. Coleman tried to get Nimmo at first, but the throw was wide, allowing Belfonte to score from second on the play. Jake Mort was hit to load the bases, but Berger got Jake Opitz to fly out to the warning track to end the Husker threat.
Unfortunately for the Huskers, Weber couldn’t get out of the second inning unscathed, as the Tigers chase the Husker starter with six runs in the bottom of the inning – all with two outs - to extend the lead to 10-2. With two on and two outs, Schmidt dribbled an RBI single to make it a three-run game. Gray then sliced a two-run double into the corner, giving the Tigers a 7-2 lead and ending Weber’s afternoon. Casey Hauptman came in and couldn’t get out of the jam, as a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases before Folgia tripled off the wall in center, just beyond the attempt of Nimmo, and cleared the bases to provide the Tigers with a 10-2 cushion.
Weber (8-3) lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing eight runs on seven hits to take the loss, as the Tigers pounded out 23 hits against six Husker pitchers.
Missouri tacked on six runs in the third, highlighted by a three-run homer from Thigpen, to essentially put the game out of reach.
The two teams will wrap up the series Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a game televised by Fox Sports Net and carried on the Husker Sports Network.