Lincoln – Missouri parlayed a trio of two-out hits into a four runs in the top of the seventh, as the Tigers topped Nebraska, 8-4, Friday night at Hawks Field.
Nebraska (21-24-1, 5-17 Big 12) had fought back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the score at four, only to see the Tigers strike for four runs in the top of the seventh off of NU reliever Casey Hauptman.
With two outs and runners on the corners, Kyle Mach’s two-run double gave MU (26-21, 12-10) the lead for good. On the next pitch, Steve Gray made it a 7-4 game with an RBI triple before Ryan Ampleman’s run-scoring single capped the four-run inning.
“That was a tough one,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “I felt great about our offense fighting back after going down a few runs. We go into the seventh and in a five-pitch period, it went from 4-4 to 8-4. You have to tip your hat to their hitters, but that was the key to the ballgame. After they got the momentum, we were unable to get it back.”
Hauptman, who got the Huskers out of a jam in the top of the sixth when Missouri had runners on the corners and no outs, took the loss to fall to 4-5 on the season, as he allowed all four runs in the frame.
The four-run outburst was enough for Missouri’s Kyle Gibson, who upped his record to 8-3 by allowing four runs on six hits over eight innings. Gibson fanned eight and walked one over a 124-pitch performance, as the Huskers had several early opportunities against the Tiger ace.
After Missouri jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on Ryan Lollis’ RBI single, the Huskers came back with a run in their half of the frame. Kyle Bubak singled with one out and stole second before coming home on Jake Mort’s RBI single to left to tie the game
Gray, who went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, helped the Tigers regain the lead in the bottom of the fourth, as his RBI single scored Kyle Mach to start the rally. With two outs and runners on the corners, Austin Holt’s two-run double to right center cleared the bases and made it a 3-1 Missouri lead.
The Huskers fought right back, as Tyler Farst doubled to open the home half of the fourth before coming home on Nick Sullivan’s third homer of the season two batters later. Sullivan hit a 3-2 pitch from Gibson into the berm in right to pull the Huskers within a run.
“Those two hits were big for us,” Anderson said of the two-out hits by Mort and Sullivan. “I thought Jake Mort and Nick Sullivan came back up in good situations and put good wood on the ball again, but it was right at them. I thought those guys fought and had some competitive hits, but they just didn’t go through. If Sullivan’s gets through (in the sixth) we’ve got a lead and momentum of the game changes, but it didn’t. Give him credit for hitting it hard, but it just didn’t happen.”
Missouri threatened in the sixth, putting runners on the corners with no outs, but Hauptman struck out Conner Mach and got Michael Liberto to ground into an inning-ending double play to keep NU in the game.
Nebraska tied the game in the bottom of the sixth and had a golden opportunity to take its first lead in the frame. Adam Bailey opened the sixth with a double to left, moved to third on a ground out before scoring on DJ Belfonte’s sacrifice fly to left. With two outs, Ben Kline reached on an error and stole second before Sullivan’s smash down the first base line was handled by Gray, who outraced Sullivan to the bag to end the inning.
The Huskers return to action on Saturday afternoon, as they take on Missouri at 2:05 p.m. The game will be carried by the IMG Husker Sports Network and Huskers.com. The game will also be televised on NET and NET-HD.