Huskers Dominate Red Raiders in Big 12 Opener, 15-5
Every Husker in the starting lineup tallied at least one hit in the offensive barrage, as NU had its second-highest totals of the season in runs (15) and hits (19). Nebraska had not scored that many runs in a league road game since defeating Kansas State, 22-6, on March 30, 2002 in Manhattan.
Kash Kalkowski (4-for-4) and Kale Kiser (4-for-6) combined for eight of Nebraska's 19 hits, while Asche drove in five of NU's 13 runs. Asche's third inning homer was his fourth of the season, all of which have come in the last 10 games. The junior from O'Fallon, Mo., also tagged two doubles, including an RBI shot off the center field wall as part of a five-run fifth inning that gave NU a commanding 15-0 lead.
Matt Freeman (4-1) earned the win for Nebraska on the mound, as he entered the weekend leading the league with a 0.63 ERA. The senior from Omaha, Neb., made his first career Big 12 start and threw a career-high 108 pitches, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out six and walking three. He held the Red Raiders scoreless through the first four innings as NU built its 15-0 lead before giving up four runs in the fifth and one in the seventh. Freshmen Tyler King and Brandon Pierce dominated the Red Raiders in the final two innings by not giving up a hit.
"That was really nice to see," head coach Mike Anderson said. "After the fifth inning we had that big lead, but sometimes those big leads can be uncomfortable. They scored a couple runs but our pitching staff kept it in check. I thought Matt (Freeman) was exceptional. He had that four-run fifth but other than that he was exceptional, and that's a very good hitting team. Matt kept them off balance. We had good explosion offensively, but Matt had a great performance too."
Kiser and Cory Burleson ignited the huge third inning by starting off the frame with back-to-back singles before Asche sent the three-run homer over the left field wall. It was the first of two innings in which NU would bat around the order, as Kiser and Asche ended up tallying two hits apiece in the third, helping lead the Huskers to its highest scoring inning of the season. Kalkowski and Khiry Cooper also had singles in the third, while Kurt Farmer and Josh Scheffert reached base on a hit by pitch and walk to score runs as well.
Kiser, who had missed the last four games due to a toe injury, came back in full force as he tabbed a hit in each of his first four at bats. His RBI single through the right side in the fifth begin a five-run inning that was highlighted by Asche's towering double that hit off the top of the center field wall. That extra base hit increased Asche's Big 12-leading double total to 16 on the season. Kalkowski, Farmer and Scheffert all singled following Asche's double to help NU to a 15-0 lead through 4 ½ innings.
Kiser and Asche, both honorable mention All-Big 12 selections last season, singled and doubled in the first inning to give NU a 2-0 lead right off the bat.
Although the Huskers put up one of its best offensive games in recent history, the NU defense remained strong by not committing an error for the second time in the past three games.
The Huskers and Red Raiders will continue their series Saturday with a 5 p.m. first pitch. Nebraska is looking for its first series win in Lubbock since 2005.