Cox Carries Husker Offense in 5-3 Win
Lincoln – In front of 3,289 fans at Hawks Field and a national-TV audience on the Big Ten Network, the Nebraska baseball team (15-12, 1-2 Big Ten) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the UNLV Rebels (19-8, 9-3 MWC) on Sunday afternoon. Nebraska’s offense notched double-digit hits for the 18th time this season with 11, while Aaron Bummer produced his longest outing of the year to improve 3-2 on the season.
Bummer, who was slow out of the gate in 2014, has started to find his stride over his past few starts. The junior worked 7.2 innings in the win and matched his career high in strikeouts for the second time this season with five. The 6-2 lefty gave up nine of his 10 hits in the first five innings of the game and then limited the Rebels to a single over his final 2.2 innings of work. After giving up a pair of one-out base hits in the fifth, Bummer went on to retire 10 straight UNLV batters before Joey Armstrong broke the streak with a two-out single in the eighth. Josh Roeder took the mound and polished off the win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, including a season-high four strikeouts, for his fourth save of the season.
Roeder started the ninth with a strikeout, but then gave up back-to-back singles that put the tying run on base. He came back and struck out Justin Jones with a nasty breaking ball that even catcher Tanner Lubach couldn’t handle, allowing both UNLV runners to move into scoring position. UNLV’s No. 3 hitter, T.J. White, came to the plate with two outs and worked a full count after nine pitches. Roeder delivered his best stuff for pitch No. 10 of the at-bat and blew a fastball by White to seal the win.
Nebraska’s 11 hits came from five batters, who each produced multiple hits on the afternoon. Junior Christian Cox led the way with his second three-hit game of the year, as he was 3-for-3 with both a pair of RBIs and runs scored. Austin Darby, Pat Kelly, Blake Headley and Ty Kildow each had a pair of hits on the afternoon. After the Huskers struck out a season-high 11 times in Saturday’s 5-4 loss, NU’s offense continually made contact on Sunday and didn’t record a strikeout.
The game was tied 1-1 through two inning after each team cashed in on hits to start their half of the inning. The Rebels jumped in front 2-1 in the top of the third when the wind carried a high two-out fly ball off the bat of Patrick Armstrong over the left field wall, his third homer of the season. UNLV stretched its lead to 3-1 in the fourth when a two-out double by Matt McCallister drove in Edgar Montes, who had earlier worked a one-out walk, all the way from first base.
Nebraska cut into UNLV’s lead in the bottom of the fifth, starting with a leadoff double by Cox, his first extra-base hit as a Husker. Reveles then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but also reach on the play on a throwing error by starting pitcher Bryan Bonnell. Kildow stepped up with runners on the corners and hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Cox was able to score on the play to make it a 3-2 ball game.
The Huskers took their first lead in the bottom of the sixth when they scored two runs on two hits and pair of UNLV errors. Kelly got the offense started when he was HBP with one out and then went first-to-third on a base hit by Headley, who cruised into second when Montes had the ball bounce off his glove in right field. Lubach did his job and hit a ground ball to the right side that drove in Kelly, but Lubach also reached on the play Jones was unable to field the grounder cleanly at second base. Cox followed with his second hit in two innings, a single that scored Headley, and along with his sacrifice fly in the second, Cox picked up his first career multi-RBI game at Nebraska.
With Bummer cruising, the Huskers added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Cox picked up his third hit of the game with a one-out single and put himself in scoring position with his first career steal. Kildow, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, stroked a single on a 2-2 pitch that put the Huskers up by two runs, 5-3.
The Huskers will be back in action Tuesday night when they open a two-game midweek series in Fayetteville, Ark., against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Huskers and Razorbacks are set for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch on Tuesday evening and the game will be carried live on Cox Sports and also online at ESPN3.com. Game two is set for 1:35 p.m. and will be streamed live on HuskersNSide.com.
Nebraska is scheduled to start freshman Jake Hohensee on Tuesday and junior Kyle Kubat on Wednesday, while the Razorbacks will start Colin Poche and Alex Phillips.