Shirek Leads No. 17 Huskers to Twinbill Split with KU
Lincoln – Phil Shirek struck out 10 in a complete-game win, as Nebraska split a doubleheader against Kansas at Hawks Field, taking the nightcap, 13-3, after dropping a 12-9 decision in the opener.
The junior from Minot, N.D., improved to 4-0 on the season as allowed two first-inning runs before settling down. Shirek, who has won all three of his starts since moving into the rotation earlier this month, scattered seven hits en route to his first career complete game, a contest that was shortened to seven innings because of the Big 12’s 10-run rule. He easily topped his previous career high of seven strikeouts set twice as a freshman.
"Phil was great today," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. "You go out and give up some runs in that first game and you might question yourself, but he got out there, gave up two runs in the first inning and then just shut them down the rest of the way."
The Huskers, who improved to 16-5 with the doubleheader split, used homers by Alex Gordon, Jake Mullinax and Braden Keith in an 11-hit attack. Gordon, who hit a two-run shot in the third off KU starter Mike Zagurski, and Mullinax homered in consecutive at-bats in a three-run third for NU, while Braden Keith also added his first career round tripper in the win.
The Jayhawks tied the score at three on Ryan Baty’s fourth-inning homer, but the Huskers took the lead for good with a five-spot one inning later. With the bases loaded and one out, Mullinax’s grounder to third was misplayed by Jayhawk third baseman Travis Metcalf, allowing the go-ahead run to score. The miscue opened the floodgates for NU, which tacked its second run of the frame on a wild pitch by KU reliever Chris Smart. John Grose, who went 2-for-4, then extended the lead to 7-3 two batters with a two-run single before pinch hitter Chad Steele doubled in the final run of the inning.
Zagurski (3-1) took the loss, allowing six runs – four earned – on four hits in 4.1 innings of work.
The Huskers plated another run in the sixth before a two-run double by Steele, who went 2-for-2 and drove in three runs off the bench, and Keith’s first career homer, a two-run shot of Don Czyz ended the game in the seventh. Keith, who came in the game in the top of the fifth, went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
In the opener, Jake Mullinax homered and equaled his career high with four RBIs, as Nebraska rallied, but could not overcome a sizable deficit.
Kansas (22-11-1, 1-2 Big 12) chased Nebraska starter Quinton Robertson after just 2.2 innings, scoring five runs off the Husker starter, including a five-run third that staked KU to an 8-0 cushion. Robertson (1-4) took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in his shortest outing since last March, the Jayhawks pounded out 16 hits and snapped NU’s eight-game winning streak.
Andy Scholl went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, while Sean Richardson and Ryan Baty each homered and scored three times, as Kansas jumped to a 12-2 lead after four innings and withstood a late-inning Husker comeback. Richardson and Baty
Mullinax, who now has four homers after not hitting one all of last season, drove in four runs, including a two-run homer in the fifth, while Jesse Boyer also drove in a pair of runs in the loss. Daniel Bruce also had three hits and scored three times in the losing effort.
"We are obviously disappointed with the split today, but I felt like we played good baseball from the fifth inning of the first game on," Anderson said. "We let four innings get away on the pitching side of things. They scored a lot of runs and we couldn’t battle back. It is just one of those days, unfortunately, where we didn’t play well for four innings and it cost us the game. But I am really proud of our kids for fighting back in that second game and ten-running them."
Clint Schambach (3-0) took advantage of the Jayhawk outburst, going the first five innings for his third win of the year. The junior allowed five runs in seven hits, but struck out five Huskers.
The Huskers return to action on Tuesday evening, as they play host to UW-Milwaukee in the first of a two-game series. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. and will be carried on the Pinnacle Sports Network.
-- Huskers --