Huskers Force Second Title Game
- Senior left-hander Jamie Rodrigue picked up his first win of the
season by tossing a season-long 7.1 innings to pitch the Huskers
into a NCAA Lincoln Regional Championship game rematch with Southwest
Missouri State at Hawks Field on Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, Nebraska improved to
47-17, while SMS slipped to 37-24. The second title game between
NU and SMS is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. central time today.
Rodrigue, who missed much of the season
with injuries, pitched his best outing of the season in a clutch
situation for the Huskers, allowing five earned runs while scattering
10 hits. Nine of the 10 SMS hits were singles, and Rodrigue
issued just one walk while striking out four Bears to pick up his
first win since May 18, 2002, and improve to 1-1 on the season.
The Husker offense produced all the runs
Rodrigue would need with a six-run eruption in the bottom of the
second inning. Daniel Bruce, who enjoyed a 2-for-4 day at
the plate including his third home run of the regional, led off
the second with a double. Bruce moved to third when Joe Gullionís
sacrifice bunt attempt was fielded by SMS starting pitcher Jeff
Gray, who fired to third base late to put runners at the corners
with nobody out.
John Grose followed with an RBI single,
before Jake Mullinaxís sacrifice bunt moved runners to second and
third with one out. Jeff Leise then executed a squeeze bunt
with Gullion just beating the throw home to give NU a 2-0 lead.
Joe Simokaitis and Matt Hopper followed with one-out, RBI singles,
before Curtis Ledbetter rounded out NUís second with a two-out,
RBI single to give the Huskers a 6-0 lead.
SMS rallied for three runs on four singles
in the third inning off Rodrigue, but Bruce sparked another NU rally
with a solo homer to lead off the NU fifth inning. It was
Bruceís sixth homer of the season and third of the tournament.
Simokaitis wrapped up the Husker scoring a two-run single to drive
in Grose and Mullinax for a 9-3 NU lead.
Simokaitis finished game one with a 3-for-5
effort with three RBIs at the plate, while Bruce, Hopper and Ledbetter
and Alex Gordon all added two hits in a 13-hit NU attack.
Tim Schoeninger relieved Rodrigue with
one out in the eighth and pitched a perfect 1.2 innings to pick
up sixth save of the season. Gray took the loss for SMS to
fall to 5-3 on the year.
*NU senior left-hander Jamie Rodrigue
pitched a season-long 7.1 innings to pick up his first win since
May 18, 2002, when he defeated Louisiana Tech. Rodrigue improved
to 1.1 on the season. His strikeout of Dantíe Brinkley in
the fifth inning was the 200th strikeout of his career.
He is the 6th Husker to strike out 200 hitters in a career.
*With a 2-for-4 effort against SMS, Matt
Hopper improved to 8-for-15 in the NCAA Lincoln Regional with 4
HR, 4 walks, 10 runs scored and 7 RBIs.
*Jake Mullinax went 1-for-2 to improve
to 8-for-10 with 5 RBIs in three NCAA Lincoln Regional games.
*Curtis Ledbetter went 2-for-4 to improve
to 8-for-16 with 1 HR, 8 RBIs and 5 runs scored.
*Daniel Bruce hit his third home run
of the NCAA Lincoln Regional with his fifth-inning blast against
SMS. Bruce has hit half of his six homers this season during
four postseason games.