Minneapolis, Minn. - Aaron Marsden scatted five hits in eight innings and struck out a career-high 10 batters, as No. 16 Nebraska opened the Dairy Queen Baseball Classic with an impressive 7-1 victory over No. 14 Notre Dame Friday afternoon at the Metrodome.
The Huskers, who improved to 5-2 on the season, jumped on Notre Dame starter Chris Niesel, scoring runs in four of the first five innings to take a 6-0 lead. The early run support was more than enough, as Marsden, who improved to 5-0 against ranked teams during his NU career, held the Fighting Irish to five singles in a 104-pitch performance.
Pitching in front of over 15 family members who made the trip from Grand Forks, N.D., the Husker left-hander did not walk a batter and allowed only one runner into scoring position until the Fighting Irish tallied their only run in the sixth on a Matt Edwards? RBI single. The victory was Marsden?s (1-0) first since last May 22, a span of six starts, while his 10 Ks eclipsed his previous high of nine set on two occasions last season.
"Aaron set the tone from the start," Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson said. "He was getting ahead of hitters early and that is something he struggled with in his first two starts. Notre Dame is a very aggressive team, and Aaron did a great job of throwing his changeup for strikes early in counts. That is the type of performance that we expected from Aaron."
Jeff Leise staked the Huskers to an early 3-0 lead, driving in each of the Huskers? first three runs. He opened the contest with a towering homer off the fa?ade in right for his fourth career leadoff homer. One inning later with runners on first and second, he drove a 1-1 offering down the line for a two-run triple. On the day, Leise went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
The Huskers tacked on a fourth run in the fourth on a fielder?s choice by John Grose that scored Matt Hopper, who opened the inning with a single before moving into scoring position on Brandon Fusilier?s double. Hopper, who is batting .692 with nine runs scored in four games, led the Husker attack with three hits, while Fusilier and Anderson each added a pair of doubles.
In the fifth, the Huskers chased the Notre Dame starter with three consecutive hits to open the inning. Back-to-back doubles by Hopper and Fusilier plated the first run before Grose?s base hit put runners on the corners. Drew Anderson then greeted reliever Tom Thorton with an RBI double past third to score Fusilier for NU?s third run of the inning.
Neisel (0-1) suffered his first loss as a collegian, allowing six runs on nine hits in four-plus innings of work, as Notre Dame dipped to 2-3 on the year, with all three losses coming to ranked teams.
After having three baserunners through the first five innings, the Irish finally got to Marsden in the sixth, stringing together three straight two-out singles off the Husker left-hander, including Edwards? RBI single to right center to trim the NU lead to 6-1.
The Huskers added an insurance run in the eighth, as Chase Odenreider?s groundout plated Anderson, who had earlier doubled and moved to third on a passed ball.
The Huskers will take on Wake Forest, which is ranked as high as seventh in this week?s polls, Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
Notes: Nebraska improves to 2-10 all-time against Notre Dame, while today?s win was the first by the Huskers over Notre Dame since May 3, 1904?Nebraska has now scored in 272 consecutive games, the ninth-longest streak in NCAA history?Leise?s homer was his first since June 2, 2002, against Southwest Missouri State?Leise?s caught stealing in the sixth inning marked the first time he had been caught on a straight steal during his Husker career. He is 47-of-50 in his career, with the other two being off missed hit-and-runs last season?Marsden also struck out nine against Cal Poly (5/12/02) and Texas A&M on (3/17/02)..the last Husker other than two-time All-American Shane Komine to strike out 10 or more in a game was R.D. Spiehs (11) vs. Texas A&M in the Big 12 Tournament title game on May 21, 2001.