Lincoln – Nebraska got the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings, but the Huskers’ comeback fell short in a 6-3 loss to Missouri Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 6-2, the Huskers had opportunities in both the eighth and ninth innings against the Missouri bullpen, but were unable to get the key hit.
In the eighth, singles by DJ Belfonte and Tyler Farst started the rally for Nebraska, as the Huskers eventually loaded the bases with one out. Phil McCormick then walked Nick Sullivan to make it a 6-3 game before Brad Buehler set down both Ben Kline and Cody Neer to end the eighth.
Singles by Jeff Tezak and Jake Mort opened the ninth before DJ Belfonte’s grounder moved both runners into scoring position, but Buehler, the seventh pitcher Missouri used on Saturday, then fanned the next two hitters to collect his fifth save.
“I’m proud of the kids for continuing to fight in the 8th and 9th innings there,” Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson said. “I thought we had some quality at bats late, but we didn’t end up getting the big hit. They had some fight to them on the offensive side of things”
Nebraska (21-25-1, 5-18 Big 12) out-hit Missouri, 11-6, but went just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Saturday, as the Tigers (27-21, 13-10 Big 12) took advantage of a costly fourth-inning error to jump out to a 4-1 lead.
The Huskers jumped out to an early lead, getting an RBI single by Tyler Farst in the bottom of the first. Jeff Tezak opened the game by being hit by a pitch and moved to second on a ground out before Farst drove him home with a single to center.
Nebraska starter Mike Nesseth set the Tigers down in order in the first two frames and held MU scoreless until the fourth. Two straight Tiger hits put runners on the corners with no outs, before Steve Gray tied the game with a base hit to center. After a walk, the Husker right-hander uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Kyle Mach to score and put the Tigers up 2-1.
Erik Bird came in for Nesseth and got Conner Mach to ground into a double play as Jake Mort made a head-up play, tagging Gray off of third before firing across the diamond to get Mach for the second out. Bird had seemingly got the Huskers out of danger, as Michael Liberto hit a grounder to Kyle Bubak at short, but the throw to first was wide of the bag, allowing one run to score and kept the inning alive. Austin Holt took advantage of the opportunity, coming up with an RBI single to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead.
Nesseth (3-4) took the loss, allowing three runs on two hits over three-plus innings, but matched his career high with five walks, as Nebraska was eliminated from contention for the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City later this month.
The Huskers inched closer in the fourth, as Nick Sullivan belted his second homer in as many days, a two-out shot onto the sidewalk in right, to make it 4-2.
In the sixth, Missouri got a pair of insurance runs, as Ryan Lollis came through with a two-run, two-out double to extend the Tiger lead to four runs.
The Huskers will look to salvage the final game of the three-game series Sunday afternoon, as Sean Yost looks for his second victory of the year. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. and the Husker volleyball team will be honored prior to the game and receive their 2008 Big 12 Championship trophy.