Lincoln, Neb. - The NCAA Lincoln Regional opened with an offensive flurry on Friday at Hawks Field, as Eastern Illinois and Nebraska combined for 23 runs and seven home runs, as the host Huskers advanced in the winner’s bracket with a 13-10 victory in front of 6,367 fans.
“I've never seen the park play like this in the whole time I've been here,”
“We had a lead. We lost that lead. We got down, but once we got down, we learned how to fight back again. At this point, I'm not overly concerned about how we do it, just that we get it done."
Senior Jake Opitz led the way with a career-high two homers while driving in three runs for Huskers. Tyler Farst and Craig Corriston also homered for NU, which battled back from a 5-3 deficit heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Even with the power display, it was a balanced effort for
With the win, top-seeded
Brett Nommensen paced a strong offensive attack for
Thad Weber (9-4) earned the victory for
After NU starter Dan Jennings retired the side on just eight pitches in the top of the first,
"I didn't think (my first home run) was out,” Opitz said. “Like he (Coach Anderson) said, this field has never played like this in my four years here. If you got that ball in the air, you had a chance to get it out of here."
Zach Skidmore pulled the Panthers even in the top of the third when he ripped a two-out, 3-2 pitch to right center for a game-tying two-run homer.
In the bottom of the frame, the Huskers loaded the bases with only one out before DJ Belfonte’s sacrifice fly plated Mitch Abeita to give NU a 3-2 lead.
Nebraska answered in the bottom of the fourth, as Abeita ripped a 1-2 pitch over the second baseman’s head for a game-tying, two-run single. The home run barrage continued two batters later, as Tyler Farst drilled his second career homer and first at Hawks Field with a two-run shot to center that gave the Huskers a 7-5 lead.
Jake Mort pushed the Huskers’ lead to 8-5 with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth. Abeita then added his third RBI of the game with a two-out, two-strike RBI single that gave NU a four-run cushion.
Eastern Illinois continued to fight back with two runs in the sixth to cut the lead to 9-7, as Nommensen came through again by bouncing a two-run single through the right side.