Lincoln ľNebraska received a solid performance from sophomore Casey Hauptman, but three Kansas State runs in the top of the first inning proved costly in a 5-3 Wildcat win Saturday afternoon at Hawks Field
Hauptman (2-2) pitched well in a losing effort, allowing three earned runs over a career-high 6.2 innings of work. The right-hander fanned three and allowed only five hits, but four of them came in the first, as the Wildcats (24-8, 5-4 Big 12) pushed across three runs.
Two singles sandwiched around a walk loaded the bases before Justin Bloxom’s RBI single and a fielding error allowed a pair of runs to score. Jason King made it 3-0 with an RBI single before many of the fans settled into their sets before Hauptman righted himself. He allowed only one more hit after the first and retired 19 of 20 at one point before leaving with two outs in the seventh.
While Hauptman found his groove, Nebraska began to chip away at the deficit, scoring once in both the fourth and fifth innings to cut the Wildcat lead to 3-2. In the fourth, Nebraska strung together three straight one-out singles off of starter and winner Todd Vogel, as Jeff Tezak’s RBI single to center made it a two-run game. Cody Neer opened the fifth against reliever Thomas Rooke with a double to left before Kyle Bubak’s sacrifice fly two batters pulled Nebraska within 3-2.
Hauptman, whose previous career long was six innings against South Dakota State, retired 11 in a row until Rob Vaughn reached on an error by Jake Mort with one out in the seventh. After a sacrifice bunt, Erik Bird came into pitch, but could not get the Huskers out of trouble, as Adam Muenster plated Vaughn with an RBI single to make it 4-2.
The Wildcats extended the margin to three runs in the eighth on a solo homer off the bat of Bloxom, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in a winning effort.
Nebraska, which was swept at home for the first time in a three-game series since 1997, had an opportunity to get the game to extra innings against Wildcat closer James Allan. With two outs, Boomer Collins was hit by a pitch before Cody Neer reached on an infield single, putting the tying run on first. Allen then closed the door, striking out Cade Thompson for his fifth save.
Neer, Farst and Bailey had two hits apiece for the Huskers, who have lost their last five contests.
Vogel earned the win, as he went 3.1 innings in a pre-determined outing. He scattered five hits and fanned three to improve to 3-0 on the season
“Not much to say, give a lot of credit to Kansas State, they took it to us,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “Not so certain we haven’t had a worse weekend here. That’s probably the worst I’ve seen in a while, but I am certain we will have better ones. There will be better days; that’s the game of baseball. We’ve got to learn to get better. We’ve had some trials and tribulations this year. We have had some ups and downs, but we have learned to fight our way out of it.”
The Huskers will be in action on Tuesday night, as they host the Creighton Bluejays. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. at Hawks Field and will be carried on the Husker Sports Network. Tuesday’s game will also be televised statewide on NET Television and nationally on CBS College Sports.