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Husker Comeback Falls Short to UC Riverside

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Tempe, Ariz. -- Andy Gerch went 3-for-5 and scored twice, but UC Riverside rode the hot hitting of Carl Uhl and Jaime Pedroza to a 10-5 victory over the Huskers Friday afternoon at the NCAA Tempe Regional.


Gerch highlighted an 11-hit attack for Nebraska (30-26), as the Huskers rallied from a six-run deficit to pull within 7-5 and have the tying runner on base in the eighth. With the loss, Nebraska will play the loser of tonight’s second game between Monmouth and Arizona State at 4 p.m. (central).


Down 7-2, the Huskers rallied against UC Riverside All-American James Simmons to make it a game. Gerch started the rally with a one-out single and moved to second on a wild pitch before scoring on Jeff Tezak’s RBI double to left center. Pinch hitter Nick Sullivan greeted reliever Taylor Bills with an RBI single to pull NU within 7-4. Bryce Nimmo’s single the fourth consecutive hit by NU kept the rally going before DJ Belfonte’s RBI single two batters later made it a 7-5 game. Unfortunately for the Huskers, Bills got Craig Corriston to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.


That would be as close as the Huskers would get, as the Highlanders (38-19) scored three runs in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of four walks and a hit batter by the Husker bullpen to push the margin back to five runs.


Uhl and Pedroza keyed the UC Riverside attack, combining for five hits and seven RBIs for the winners. Uhl went 3-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and scored three times, while Pedroza had two hits and drove in four runs. The pair combined to drive in UC Riverside’s first seven runs after the Huskers took an early 1-0 lead.


That offensive outburst was more than enough for Simmons, who scattered seven hits and allowed three earned runs over 7.1 innings of work. Simmons struck out three and walked two in upping his mark to 11-3 on the season.


The Huskers got on the scoreboard in the top of the first against Simmons on a solo homer from Andrew Brown. The senior first baseman launched a 2-2 pitch over the batter’s eye in dead center, becoming only the 20th player in Packard Stadium history to accomplish the feat.


Nebraska starter Luke Wertz went through the UCR order through the first 2.2 innings before running into problems in the third, as the Highlanders struck for three runs. Uhl tied the score with his first homer of the season, a homer to right center. Wertz then walked Joey Gonzales before Padroza gave UCR the lead for good, depositing a Wertz offering over the fence in right center to make it a 3-1 game.


The Husker right-hander struggled with his control in the fourth, something that proved costly, as the Highlanders scored four runs to chase Wertz. After a one-out single, Wertz issued consecutive walks to the bottom two hitters in the UCR lineup to load the bases. Uhl pushed the lead to 5-1 as he roped a double off the wall in right. Two batters later, Pedroza greeted reliever Dan Jennings with a bases-loaded bloop single to left, scoring two more runs to make it a 7-1 game.


Wertz (4-1) took the loss, as he tagged for a career-high seven runs over 3.1 innings. Wertz, who walked only 13 hitters in 57 innings entering Friday, walked a career high five hitters in taking his first loss in 38 career appearances.


Jennings pitched well in keeping the Huskers in the game, as he matched his career high with four strikeouts over 3.1 innings of relief.


NU began to chip away at Simmons in the sixth, with Gerch the centerpiece of the rally. The junior singled to open the inning before Pedroza’s fielding error put runners on the corners with no outs. Jeff Lanning plated Gerch, as he hit into a double play to make it a 7-2 game.

Notes: With his 3-for-5 effort, Andy Gerch is now hitting .386 (17-for-44) in 11 career NCAA contests...Andrew Brown’s first inning homer was the first round tripper in nine games and give Brown a team-high 10 homers on the season...DJ Belfonte had two hits for his team-best 20th multi-hit game of the season..Brown is the second Husker to hit the ball over the "Green Monster" in center at Packard Stadium, as Matt Meyer accomplished the feat in 1996...it was just the sixth time since 1974 that a non Sun Devil had homered over the "Green Monster"...Dan Jennings tied his career high with four strikeouts, as he also had four in a start against Iowa on April 10....Nick Sullivan has had pinch-hit singles in each of his last two plate appearance after not having a pinch-hit single all season during the regular season

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