Husker Comeback Falls Short
Oklahoma City, Okla. – Andy Cotton had a career high three hits, but No. 7 Nebraska’s comeback bid fell short in an 11-5 loss to sixth-ranked Oklahoma State Saturday night at the Phillips 66 Championships at the Bricktown Ballpark.
Cotton went 3-for-4 to lead the Huskers, who trailed 7-1 after four innings and got within 8-5 and had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh.
In that inning, Nebraska (40-14-1) loaded the bases on two hit batters and a walk, but could not pull closer, as Robbie Weinhardt induced Tyler Farst to ground into an inning-ending double play. Weinhardt tossed 2.2 innings of perfect relief, fanning three en route to his fourth save of the season.
The Cowboys (42-16) pulled away in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of a costly Husker miscue to score three runs and dash the Huskers’ comeback bid. After a leadoff single by Dean Green, Rebel Ridling hit a grounder to second, which Jake Opitz flipped to Cotton to begin a double play, but the exchange was mishandled. The Cowboys would eventually turn the miscue into three unearned runs, getting RBI singles from Thomas Belza and Donnie Webb and a sacrifice fly from Tyrone Hambly to make it an 11-5 game.
Hambly went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored while Green and Matt Hague drove in two runs apiece for Oklahoma State (42-16), which could advance to meet Texas in Sunday’s game if Baylor defeats Kansas State in the final game of the day.
The Huskers fell behind early, digging themselves a six-run hole, as Oklahoma State pushed four runs across in the third and four more one inning later.
In the third, one-out singles by Hambly and Webb put runners on the corners. Thad Weber struck out Jordy Mercer for the second out, but a double steal plated the first run as Mitch Abeita tried to get Webb at second. Hague’s RBI single made it 2-0 before Green spotted the Cowboys a four-run lead with a two-run homer to center.
Nebraska cracked the scoreboard one inning later, as Abeita launched his 10th homer of the season, a solo shot to left center, to make it 4-1.
The Cowboys chased Weber in the fourth, scoring three times to extend the margin to 7-1. Neil Medchill opened with a triple to left before scoring on Luis Flores’ RBI double. Two batters later, Hambly plated Flores with an RBI double before eventually scoring on Hague’s sacrifice fly.
Weber (8-4) took the loss, allowing six earned runs on eight hits over 3.1 innings.
The Huskers chipped away at the deficit against OSU starter Tyler Lyons, who tossed a complete-game six hitter against Nebraska in early April by scoring two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, Cotton got the rally started his first career triple and came home moments later on a Bryce Nimmo sacrifice fly. Jake Mort then doubled to left before coming home on an Opitz RBI single.
Medchill gave the Cowboys an 8-3 lead with his 10th homer of the season, a solo blast to center off of reliever Aaron Pribanic in the bottom of the fifth.
Nebraska used timely two-out hitting in the sixth to get to within 8-5 on run-scoring hits from Craig Corriston and Cotton. DJ Belfonte started the rally with a single before Corriston came through with an RBI double off the wall in right. Cotton’s third hit of the day, an RBI single to left, plated Corriston to make it a three-run game.
Despite the Huskers effort, Lyons still earned his 11th win of the year, allowing five runs on nine hits over six innings to improve to 11-2 on the season.
The Huskers will return to Lincoln and await the announcement of the 16 NCAA Regional sites on Sunday and the entire 64-team field announcement Monday morning.
Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson.
On the game:
"I thought that Oklahoma State did a great job and they are a good hitting team. I liked what our kids did and we tried to stay in it as best we could. The third and seventh innings were the keys to the game. They did a great job in the third, scoring four runs, some good swings and great hitters. They do a darn good job offenseily.”
On NCAA tournament:
“We expect to see teams in the Big 12 not in our region, that would be a good thing. We beat each other quite a bit and I don’t think anybody went unscathed the entire year. It was nice to talk with other coaches who had the same sentiments and had nice conversations with those guys. I think we all felt that way. It’s a great league and I think there is a lot of preperation that takes place. We will see. I think that teams that come out of this conference will be battle ready.”