Errors Prove Costly in Husker Loss
Evanston, Ill. - A season-high six errors from the Husker defense combined with 12 strikeouts from the NU offense resulted in a 8-4 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats, evening the three game series at 1-1. With the loss, the Huskers fall to 19-10 overall on the season and 3-2 in Big Ten play.
None of the Wildcats' eight runs were earned off the Husker pitching staff, as the Huskers out-hit the Wildcats on the afternoon, 7-6. It is the Huskers' first loss this season when out-hitting their opponent, after entering the game 12-0 on the year when notching more hits.
The Husker hitters struggled against freshman starter Brandon Magallones, the reigning Co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, who improved to 5-0 on the season with 10-strikeout performance over 8.0 innings of work.
Nebraska starter Jon Keller rolled through the first two inning by retiring six straight, but then gave up a leadoff single to Nick Linne in the bottom of the third. Keller bounced right back and got Walker Moses to ground into a fielder's choice that erased Linne. Hamilton Wise then hit a grounder to Kurt Farmer at third that looked to be a possible double-play ball, but Farmer threw the ball into center field, giving the Wildcats runners at first and third with one out.
With the game still scoreless, leadoff hitter Kyle Ruchim laid a bunt down the first base line and was tagged out by Richard Stock, but Moses scored to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. Keller looked to get out of the inning with minimal damage, but another fielding error by Farmer extended the inning and Keller walked three straight batters to plate two more runs, before getting a groundout with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Wildcats add three runs in the fourth on just two hits and two more Husker errors. Linne led off the second straight inning with a hit, but was soon cleared off when he was thrown out at second by Cory Burleson. It was Burleson's 13th runner caught stealing in 22 attempts this season. Keller then walked Moses, who moved to second on a throwing error by Pat Kelly at second on a ground ball off the bat of Wise. Following a ground out by Runchim, two runs scored on a two-out single by Zach Morton.
Michael Pritchard started a rally for the Huskers in the top of the sixth with a double and scored the Huskers' first run of the game on a single from Rich Sanguinetti, but Magallones retired Chad Christensen and Kash Kalkowski to end the Husker threat.
After Northwestern added two runs in the sixth on two hits and one Husker error, NU went down in order in the seventh and eighth. Nebraska did mount a small rally in the top of the ninth with three runs off five hits, including a leadoff double from Sanguinetti, but a pair of strikeouts in the frame by Ruchim killed the comeback attempt.
The two teams will meet for the rubber match tomorrow at 1 p.m. Zach Hirsch will try to pick up his second straight Sunday win after being Illinois last weekend, while Morton will try for his first win of the season for the Wildcats after starting the season 0-5.