Shirek Leads No. 11 Huskers to 11-1 Victory
Lincoln -- Phil Shirek threw seven shutout innings, while No. 11 Nebraska belted out 11 hits, including three homers, in an 11-1 victory over McNeese State in front of a crowd of 2,725 at Hawks Field Tuesday evening.
Shirek, a sophomore from Minot, N.D., improved to 3-0 on the season, allowing three singles and striking out four in the longest outing of his career. His previous high was six innings on two occasions, most recently against Cal Poly on March 26, as he picked up his third win in the last four starts.
"Phil was outstanding tonight," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. "His goal was to get ahead in the count. He had his fastball going and just took off. He looked great tonight."
Shirek had ample offensive support, as Matt Hopper (Golden, Colo.), Brandon Fusilier (Coppell, Texas) and Curtis Ledbetter (Lawrence, Kan.) all homered, helping the Huskers improve to 26-9 on the season.
After jumping to a 1-0 lead in the third on Jeff Leise?s (Omaha, Neb.) sacrifice fly, the Huskers took control in the fourth, scoring four times to take a five-run advantage. Hopper led off the inning with his Big 12-leading 14th homer of the season before Alex Gordon (Lincoln, Neb.) singled and Ledbetter walked, putting two runners on for Fusilier, who sent Cowboy starter Craig Martel?s 1-0 offering over the fence in left for his sixth round tripper of the evening.
Martel took the loss for the Cowboys, allowing six runs on six hits in five innings, as McNeese State dipped to 21-17 on the season.
The Huskers extended the lead to 7-0 in the sixth, as Ledbetter opened the inning with his eighth homer of the year, a towering shot to left, to extend his hit streak to a team-best 14 games.
Joe Simokaitis (St. Louis, Mo.) then capped the inning with a two-run single to center, giving the Huskers a sizable cushion. Simokaitis, Gordon and Fusilier had two hits apiece, as Nebraska improved to 13-1 at Hawks Field this season.
The Huskers tacked on three runs in the seventh before Cowboys ended NU?s shutout bid in the eighth with an uneared run off reliever Mike Sillman (Omaha, Neb.). Craig Smith drove in the only run for the visitors, driving in punch runner Tyler Dugas when Smith?s one-out grounder to third was misplayed for an error. Smith had one of McNeese State?s four hits, as the Cowboys hit into four double plays on the night.
The series concludes Wednesday evening at 6:35 p.m, as left-hander Jamie Rodrigue (St. Clair, Mo.) will make his first start since March 23.