Lincoln - Michael Mariot established a career high with nine strikeouts, but Texas A&M's Barret Loux allowed one run over seven innings, as the Aggies took the opener, 6-1, Friday evening.
Mariot (4-5) pitched well in a losing effort, allowing four earned runs over seven innings, as his nine strikeouts topped his previous best of eight set at UL-Lafayette as a sophomore. Mariot, who has pitched into the seventh in his last nine starts, was done in by a pair of passed balls in the middle innings, as Texas A&M pushed across five runs in the third and fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead.
That runs were more than enough for Loux (7-2), who fanned nine and scattered seven hits over seven frames for the victory. The Huskers (19-23, 6-13 Big 12) had chances to get to the Aggie right-hander early on, getting runners at second and third in each of the first two innings, but were unable to push across runs.
In the first, consecutive single by DJ Belfonte and Kale Kiser put runners on the corners with no outs, but Loux worked out of the jam by striking out the next three hitters. One inning later, two-out singles by Cade Thompson and Patric Tolentino and an Aggie error gave NU another opportunity, but Loux fanned DJ Belfonte to end the threat.
Belfonte provided most of the Husker offense on Friday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI single as he collected his 20th multi-hit game of the season, as hits were hard to come by on Friday. Both teams totaled seven hits, while the two pitching staffs combined for 25 strikeouts.
The Huskers' struggles scoring runs early proved fateful one inning later, as Texas A&M scored three on the Husker starter, getting an RBI double from Brodie Greene and a run-scoring single from Joe Patterson. With one out, Matt Juengel singled and stole second before Green's double put the Aggies on the scoreboard. With Green on third, Adam Smith walked and stole second, putting runners on second and third, before a passed ball plated one run, Patterson then made it 3-0 with an RBI single to left.
"Greene beat us, and we didn't want him to beat us in that situation, and Patterson had a hit on the 0-2 pitch," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. "I thought those were two key at-bats for them."
Texas A&M (24-16-1, 8-10-1 Big 12) made it 5-0 in the fourth with a pair of runs with only one hit, as a one-out walk to Collazo and a double by Scott Arthur put runners at second and third. After a passed ball on Patric Tolentino pushed across one run, a wild pitch scored Arthur with the game's fifth run.
"Obviously the third and fourth (innings) hurt us," Anderson said. "We had a great setup for a great Friday night pitching duel. I thought their guy was throwing great, although we thought we had an opportunity there in the first and second, and Michael was throwing well. Unfortunately, the passed balls set a lot of things up for them in both innings.
The game would remain that way until the seventh, when Matt Juengel belted a solo homer to left to make it 6-0.
The Huskers got on the scoreboard against Loux in the bottom of the seventh, as Bryan Peters walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Belfonte's two-out single to left.
Nebraska looks to bounce back on Saturday, as freshman Tyler Niederklein looks for his fourth win of the season. First pitch is at 2:05 p.m. and the game will be carried by the Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com.
Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications