Huntsville, Texas - The Huskers overcame an early 7-2 deficit with a seven-run fifth inning and had solid pitching from senior Casey Hauptman as Nebraska (4-1) took a 12-8 win over Northern Colorado (0-1) in the first game of the Bearkat Invitational in Huntsville, Texas on Friday afternoon.
Seven straight Huskers registered hits in the big fifth inning that gave NU a 9-7 lead. After UNC had scored seven runs in the first four innings off NU starter Tom Lemke, Hauptman was impressive as he allowed only three hits and an unearned run over the last five to earn his first win of the young season.
"I always say that in the first 10 games there will be a game you win that you probably should have lost," head coach Mike Anderson said. "We didn't play well. We didn't pitch very well or defend very well but we swung the bats extremely well all day long. We're fortunate to get a win. We had a big inning that got us back into the game."
The fifth inning was highlighted by back-to-back RBI doubles down the third base line from Bryan Peters and Khiry Cooper that drove in three of the seven runs in the frame. Peters' double, which was part of a 3-for-6 day with a career-high four RBIs, chased UNC starter Joe Sawicki with his game-tying hit. Sawicki was responsible for nine runs on 15 hits, as Cody Asche's groundout and Josh Scheffert's RBI single to right pushed across the final pair in a seven-running to give Nebraska a 9-7 lead through 5 ½ innings.
Northern Colorado had taken a 7-2 lead on Lemke before the Huskers' seven-run fifth. Nebraska then put Hauptman on the mound and the Omaha native gave up only an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to preserve NU's lead. The Bears scored at least one run in each of the first five innings before Hauptman held UNC scoreless over the last four.
Clinging to a 9-8 lead after eight, Tolentino and Farmer singled, while Cooper drew a one-out walk to load the bases. UNC brought in Nate Steinmetz and the left hander's first pitch was went to the backstop, allowing pinch runner Tanner Krietemeier to score from third. Peters then lined a 2-RBI single over the second baseman to score Cooper and Asche and give Hauptman a 12-8 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jared Berggren reached on one of five NU errors in the game, but Hauptman got Ben Packard to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Huskers, which totaled 20 hits and increased their team batting average to .382, had four hits off Sawicki in the first two innings but were held scoreless as NU fell behind 4-0. The Huskers cut lead in half with three straight hits on only seven pitchers from Kale Kiser, Peters and Asche to start the third inning.
UNC responded with two in the bottom half and added another in the fourth to take its 7-2 lead heading
into the fifth, when Nebraska exploded for its big inning. The seven-spot marked the third straight game at NU has had at least a six-run inning.
In addition to Peters, Kiser and Kurt Farmer also had three-hit days. Kiser, Nebraska's leadoff hitter, is now hitting .579 with a .692 on-base percentage, as he also reached once on a hit by pitch. The Plano, Texas native is hitting .727 over the last two games.
Cooper was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs in the victory. He has three doubles this season after hitting just five in all of 2010. Asche, Scheffert, Burleson and Tolentino also had two-hit games, while Chad Christensen was 1-for-4, as every NU starter got in the hit column to give Nebraska at least 20 hits for the second straight game.
The Huskers will look to extend their four-game winning streak Saturday with a pair of games against Northern Colorado (1:30 p.m.) and host Sam Houston State (6 p.m.). Nebraska will round out the weekend Sunday morning with its second and final match against the host Bearkats, which will mark three games in less than 24 hours for the Big Red.