Huskers fall short 6-5
Iowa City, Iowa Â– The Nebraska baseball team (13-17, 7-2 Big Ten) nearly rallied in the ninth inning on Sunday for the second straight season against the Iowa Hawkeyes (11-15, 2-7 Big Ten), but a 4-6-3 double play preserved a 6-5 Hawkeye win. The loss kept the Huskers from picking up their first road sweep in conference play since 2008.
Last season in Lincoln, Nebraska scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the series, capped by a walk-off single from Kale Kiser.
Trailing 6-3 entering the ninth on Sunday, the Huskers produced three straight singles to load the bases with no out and heart of NU's lineup due up. Michael Pritchard was the first out of the inning, but his fly to left field scored Bryan Peters from third. Chad Christensen then lifted a deep fly to right field, where Kris Goodman lost it in the sun, allowing Rich Sanguinetti to score, cutting Iowa's lead to one, 6-5. With runners on the corners and one down, one of Nebraska's hottest hitters stepped to the plate in Austin Darby. The comeback was not meant to be, as Darby grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
Nebraska strung together more than one hit in an inning just twice on the afternoon, including four in the third inning and three in the ninth.
Iowa starter Andrew Hanse gave the Hawkeyes their best start of the weekend, as the 6-6 righty went 6.2 innings. The senior from Marion, Iowa, posted just one strikeout, but limited the Huskers to three runs (two earned) on eight hits and two walks.
Free bases and errors hurt the Huskers on the day, as Nebraska committed three errors, walked five batters and gave three free passes via a HBP. Two of Iowa's six runs on the afternoon were unearned.
Both starting pitchers cruised through the first two innings, allowing two hits each, before each team scored a pair of runs in the third. The Huskers used four singles to score their runs, while the Hawkeyes took advantage of three Nebraska errors, two walks and a HBP to tie the game, 2-2, without getting a hit.
The tie didn't last long, as Nebraska took advantage of a Hawkeye error in the top of the fourth to retake the lead, 3-2. Kash Kalkowski led off the inning by reaching on a throwing error by Iowa catcher Blake Hickman. Blake Headley followed with a single, his second of the game, and Tanner Lubach laid down a sacrifice bunt to move two Huskers into scoring position. Bryan Peters then did his job with a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Kalkowski to easily score from third.
Iowa took its first lead of the game in the fifth with four-straight two-out singles off reliever Tyler King. NU's junior lefty struck out Trevor Kenyon to start the Iowa fifth, before Taylor Kaufman singled. Kaufman tried to steal second, but Lubach threw him out by five feet, Lubach's second caught stealing of the game and third of the weekend. With two out and the bases empty, Iowa's 6-7-8-9 hitters strung together four straight singles to score two runs, taking a 4-3 lead. Aaron Bummer took over for King and struck out leadoff hitter Eric Toole to end the fifth inning.
Prior to Iowa's five-hit fifth, Hawkeye batters had totaled just two hits over the first four innings.
The Hawkeyes added a pair of runs in the sixth to double up the Huskers, 6-3. Iowa used a leadoff walk, a pair of singles and an RBI groundout to plate to extend its lead to three.
Nebraska had the game-tying run at the plate in the seventh in Christensen with two down, but the reliever Ricky Sandquist induced a ground ball to first base for the third out of the inning.
Nebraska returns to Hawks Field for its longest homestand of the season, staring with a 6:35 p.m. game on Tuesday, April 9 with Creighton on NET. The six-game homestand continues next weekend when the Huskers host the Ohio State Buckeyes for a three-game Big Ten series and then the Huskers host Arkansas for a two-game midweek series on Tuesday, April 16 and Wednesday, April 17.
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