Lawrence, Kan. -- Jake Mort and DJ Belfonte drove in three runs apiece, while Casey Hauptman tossed 5.1 innings of shutout relief, lifting Nebraska to an 11-4 victory over Kansas Friday night.
The Huskers (19-21-1, 5-14 Big 12) overcame an early 4-0 deficit with 11 unanswered runs, taking the lead for good with six runs in the fourth against KU starter Shaeffer Hall. Mort keyed the outburst with a three-run homer to left center, as he matched his season high in RBIs. Belfonte had two hits and drove in a season-high three runs, while shortstop Ben Kline tied a season high with three hits to pace a 13-hit attack for the Huskers.
While the bats broke the game open, Hauptman turned in a dominant relief effort, allowing only one hit the final 5.1 innings, as he faced the minimum after entering the game in the fourth.
With NU clinging to a 6-4 lead, the sophomore right-hander struck out Buck Afenir to squelch a fourth-inning rally after KU had runners on the corners. Robby Price opened the seventh with a single to break the string of seven straight by Hauptman, but was quickly erased as Brian Heere grounded into a double play. Hauptman (3-2) retired the final eight hitters he faced, needing only 46 pitches over 5.1 innings of work.
The Huskers, who snapped a 10-game conference losing streak, dug themselves an early hole, as Kansas pushed across runs in the first three innings to take a 4-0 lead.
Kansas (27-15, 8-8 Big 12) got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first, as Price triple into the corner in right and came around to score on Heere’s RBI single. Kansas made it a 2-0 lead in the second, getting a two-out single by David Narodowski to score Casey Lytle, who opened the second with a single and moved to third on Preston Land’s bloop single to right. Land, who had two hits and two RBIs, made it a 4-0 lead in the third, coming up with a two-run double to left.
Nebraska, which has 11 come-from-behind wins including seven of at least three runs, came right back against Hall with six runs to take the lead.
Two straight singles by Tyler Farst and Cody Asche opened the frame before Belfonte’s RBI single two batters later put the Huskers on the board. The Huskers got a break when Cody Neer turned his ankle on a potential double play ball, but Price fired the ball into the dugout, allowing Asche to score from second and Neer, who was on the field next to the batter’s box, to reach second. Boomer Collins drove in Neer with an RBI single to make it a one-run game before Jeff Tezak reached on KU’s second error of the inning. The mistakes proved costly, as Mort launched Hall’s next pitch over the fence in left center to cap the six-run outburst.
Nebraska manufactured another run in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of Jayhawk miscues. With two outs and runner on third after two errors, Belfonte beat out a potential double play, allowing Asche to score from third.
Hall (3-4) took the loss, allowing seven runs on 10 hits over 5.2 innings, but only two of the runs he allowed were earned, as Kansas committed six errors.
The Huskers added four more runs in the seventh, as Asche, who scored three times, opened the frame with a walk before Kline drove him home with an RBI triple to right center. Belfonte singled through the drawn-in infield to score Kline and make it 9-4. With one out and runners on first and second, the Huskers executed a double steal before a passed ball and a fielding error allowed the Huskers to score their final two runs of the night.
The Huskers and Jayhawks continue the series on Saturday night, as Mike Nesseth makes his first start since March 14. He will be opposed by right-hander T.J. Walz.