Valiant Huskers Fall in 16 Innings

By NU Athletic Communications
DJ Belfonte makes a diving catch against Texas A&M
DJ Belfonte makes a diving catch against Texas A&M
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lincoln Dane Carter’s three-run double in the top of the 16th broke a 3-all tie, as fifth-ranked Nebraska suffered a heart-breaking 6-3 loss to Texas A&M in 16 innings late Friday night.

Carter, who went 2-for-8 on the night, came up with the game’s biggest hit, a three-run double to right center, as the Aggies (42-8, 19-3 Big 12) won their 16th consecutive conference game and moved 3.5 games ahead of the Huskers (36-9-1, 15-6-1 Big 12) in the Big 12 race.

The Huskers overcame a pair of deficits and sent the game into extra innings in the ninth, but could not come up with the big hit against Aggie closer Travis Starling, who tossed a career-high eight shutout innings of relief to up his record to 8-0.

In the 16th, the Aggies loaded the bases with three straight one-out infield singles. Jennings struck out Blake Stouffer for the second out, and had Carter on the ropes, but NU catcher Mitch Abeita could not come up a foul ball behind the plate. Carter, who leads the Big 12 in hitting, took advantage, sending a 2-2 pitch from Dan Jennings into the gap in right center, clearing the bases.

Jennings (5-1) took the loss, allowing three runs over 2.1 innings of work, as the Husker pitching staff struck out 19 Aggies and allowed just 11 hits to the conference’s top hitting team. The 19 strikeouts marked the second straight game that Husker pitchers had recorded 19 strikeouts, two shy of the school record set in 1999.

The game, which lasted 5:20, lived up to its advance billing, waging a war of attrition in front of a sellout crowd of 8,708 at Hawks Field. It was the Huskers’ longest game since a 16-innning win over Texas in 2006.

Jake Mort led Nebraska, going 2-for-6 and scored all three of the Huskers’ runs, matching his career high, while Ben Kline and Tyler Farst had two hits apiece.

"I thought our kids did a good job tonight," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. "It was a hard-fought game, and somebody ended up having to win. Our kids fought hard, I thought they did a good job. The key to it is that you can be disappointed with the loss but you can’t be discouraged with it. Our kids will come out and we’ll fight again tomorrow. Obviously this is a good ballclub, and we think we’re a good ballclub, so what you had was two very strong, determined teams getting after it, and something had to give."

Texas A&M put up a pair of runs on NU starter Johnny Dorn in the top of the second, as a walk and a hit batter keyed the Aggie uprising. With one out, Dorn walked Luke Anders and hit Darby Brown to put runners on first and second. Brian Ruggiano put the Aggies on the board with an RBI single up the middle. Brodie Green then laid down a sacrifice bunt that Dorn threw past first baseman Craig Corriston, allowing Brown to score from second with Texas A&M’s second run.

The Huskers, who suffered just their third home loss in 29 games, pulled to within 2-1 in the bottom of the third. Mort led the inning of with a double, advanced to third on a balk and scored on Mitch Abeita’s grounder to third.

Mort helped the Huskers tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, as he tripled down the line in right before scoring on a wild pitch by reliever Kyle Thebeau.

The Aggies regained the lead against Dorn in the eighth, as Ruggiano drove in his second run of the night with a RBI single, scoring Jose Duran, who was hit by a pitch and moved to second on an Anders walk.

Dorn pitched well in a no-decision, allowing two earned runs on just five hits over eight innings before the Husker relievers Mike Nesseth, Zach Herr, Erik Bird and Dan Jennings combined for seven shutout innings of relief until the Aggies broke through in the 16th.

The Huskers fought back, pushing across the tying run in the ninth against the Aggie bullpen. Mort was hit by a pitch to open the ninth before Jake Opitz drew a walk to put the tying run in scoring position. Abeita laid down a perfect sacrifice to push both runners into scoring position against Starling. Corryton, who returned to action following arthroscopic surgery last Wednesday, tied the game with a grounder to short.

The two teams will continue the series Saturday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. Thad Weber takes the hill for the Huskers looking for his ninth win of the year. The game will be carried on the Husker Sports Network and televised state-wide on NET.

Notes:

  • Tonight’s crowd of 8,708 was the largest home crowd in the Big 12 this season and the third-largest crowd in school history. The previous season high was 8,697 against Kansas on April 19.
  • Nebraska falls to 3-1-1 in extra-inning games this season, as the last two games have gone 14 and 16 innings, respectively. The 16-inning game was NU’s longest game since going 16 innings against Texas (2005) and Iowa State (1999).
  • Mitch Abeita extended his hit streak to 14 games with his 16th inning single. It is the longest hit streak by a Husker this season.
  • Zach Herr tied a career high with six strikeouts and pitched a season-high 4.0 innings
  • Tyler Farst tied his personal best with two hits, as he also had a two-hit game against Kansas State on March 15.
  • Nebraska pitchers tied a season high with 19 strikeouts, also set in NU’s last game against Louisiana-Lafayette on May 3.

 

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