Oklahoma City, Okla. – Johnny Dorn did not allow an earned run over 6.2 innings, while Jake Opitz had three hits and drove in three runs, leading seventh-ranked Nebraska to a 5-2 victory over Kansas State Friday night in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.
Dorn upped his record to 6-1 on the season, scattering seven hits and fanning three, as he collected his first win in five starts dating back to April 18.
Dorn, who has 37 career wins, battled throughout the night before leaving in the seventh, holding KSU hitless with runners in scoring position. The senior right-hander he has now allowed two runs or less in 11 of his 14 starts this season.
Zach Herr closed the door for Dorn and the Huskers, fanning six over 2.1 innings of relief for his fifth save, getting out of a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh by striking out Rob Vaughn before allowing one hit over the final two frames.
Opitz led the offensive charge, going 3-for-3 on the night, including a two-run homer in the seventh that gave Nebraska a 5-2 lead. Jake Mort also had three hits and scored twice for the Huskers, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
The win upped Nebraska’s record to 40-13-1 and kept the Huskers alive for a berth in Sunday’s title game. NU needs to beat sixth-ranked Oklahoma State on Saturday and some additional help to reach its seventh Big 12 title game since 1999.
Nebraska struck for a pair of runs in the top of third on an RBI double by Opitz and a sacrifice fly from Mitch Abeita. One-out singles from Bryce Nimmo and Mort got the rally started before Opitz drove in the Huskers’ first run with a double to right. Abeita then made it 2-0 moments later, scoring Mort with a fly ball to right.
Kansas State came back in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of a costly miscue by Mort to plate a pair of unearned runs. A one-out single by Drew Biery and a double by Vaughn two batters put runners on second and third. Dane Yelovich hit a grounder that underneath Mort’s glove, allowing both runners to score. The Wildcats continued to threaten, loading the bases, but Dorn struck out Nate Tenbrink to end the threat.
The Huskers put together a two-out rally in the top of the fifth, regaining the lead at 3-2 on a RBI single by Tyler Farst off of reliever Todd Vogel. Opitz chased KSU starter Chase Bayuk with a two-out single before Abeita greeted Vogel with a single to put runners on the corners. Farst gave the Huskers a 3-2 lead, sending an 0-1 pitch from Vogel into center to score Opitz.
Bayuk (1-5) took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits over 4.2 innings as KSU fell to 28-28 on the season.
Nebraska got some much-needed breathing room in the top of the seventh, as Opitz capped his three-hit day with his eighth round tripper of the season off of Thomas Rooke to extend the margin to 5-2.
*-With his three strikeouts, Johnny Dorn moved into sole possession of second place on Nebraska’s career strikeouts list. Dorn now has 292 strikeouts, passing Mike Zajeski, who had 289 strikeouts between 1988 and 1992. He now ranks second on NU all-time lists in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts
*-Dorn has 96 strikeouts this season, a total which ranks eighth on NU’s single-season charts.
*-Dorn leads Nebraska with 12 quality starts (6 IP and 3 ER or less) in 14 starts
*-Nebraska’s win tonight was its 40th of the season, marking the 17th time in school history that NU has won at least 40 games. It is also the eighth time in the last 10 years that the Huskers reached that plateau, the most by any Big 12 team in that span.
*-Zach Herr’s six strikeouts matches a career high, set twice this season, while he now leads the team with five saves and now is tied for fourth in school history with 73 career appearances.
*-Jake Opitz now leads Nebraska with 20 multi-hit games and 14 multi-RBI efforts.
*-Jake Mort tied his career high with three hits for the fourth time this season and fifth time in his career. Mort’s fourth inning error was just his second in the last 20 contests.