Lincoln – Behind a complete-game performance from All-America pitcher Tony Watson, Nebraska took the opening game of its three-game series with No. 13 Oklahoma State with a 5-2 victory Friday afternoon at Hawks Field.
Watson (3-1) was dominant in picking up his second straight win over a ranked foe, fanning a career-best 12 Cowboys without a walk in a 115-pitch performance. He limited a potent Cowboy offense to just two runs, equaling their lowest offensive output of the year.
Watson, whose previous strikeout high was 10 in a win over Kansas last season, fired his second career complete game and first by a Husker pitcher since last April 6, as he improved to 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last three appearances.
Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson, who collected his 200th career win at Nebraska on Friday, said that Watson’s performance was a great start to the series against an Oklahoma State offense that was hitting .354 as a team entering Friday’s game.
"I’m just thrilled with what Tony Watson did for us today," Anderson said. "He kept them off-balance. That’s one of the better hitting teams that I’ve seen in the last five years. They’re a very offensive team, and Tony did a great job against them. It all started with him, and he gave us a great chance (to win today)."
Watson was backed by a Nebraska (18-11, 4-6 Big 12) offense that totaled 11 hits, including a 3-for-4 effort by third baseman Craig Corriston, whose second-inning homer gave the Huskers the lead for good. Bryce Nimmo went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Andy Gerch finished with two doubles and drove in a run, helping Nebraska to its 12th straight win over the Cowboys in Lincoln.
The Huskers jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second against OSU starter Oliver Odle, getting a solo homer from Corriston that went into the teeth of a 25 mile-per-hour wind. Gerch continued the rally with a one-out double to left before scoring on Nimmo’s RBI single to left.
Nimmo was the catalyst for the Huskers in the fourth, as the Huskers extended their lead to 3-0. The junior led off the inning with his second hit of the day, moved to third on Mitch Abeita’s base hit and scored moments later on DJ Belftonte’s sacrifice fly to center.
Oklahoma State got on the board against Watson in the fifth, on Keanon Simon’s sacrifice fly that plated Jordy Mercer, who opened the inning with a bunt single and moved to third on Dylan Brown’s single.
Nebraska would get the runs back in the bottom of the frame, scoring twice to chase Odle with a pair of runs. Consecutive one-out singles by Jake Opitz and Corriston put runners on first and second before Jeff Tezak made it a 4-1 lead with an RBI single to right. Gerch then greeted reliever Robbie Weinhardt with his second double of the day, staking NU to a four-run lead. Odle (4-3) allowed five runs on 10 hits over 4.1 innings of work to take the loss.
That would be more than enough for Watson, who didn’t allow another run until Matt Mangini opened the ninth with a solo homer to right for the final margin.
The Huskers and Cowboys will continue the series Saturday afternoon, as Johnny Dorn (4-1, 5.18 ERA) looks for his fifth win of the year. Saturday’s game will be shown state-wide on Nebraska Educational Television (NET and NET-HD) and also carried around the state on the Husker Sports Radio Network and on Huskers.com.