Huskers drop first Big Ten series
Lincoln - For the second-straight game, a four-run inning from the Ohio State Buckeyes doomed the Nebraska baseball team, as the Buckeyes took the three-game series, 2-1, with a 7-4 win in Sunday's finale. The loss dropped the Huskers to 14-19 on the season and to 8-4 in Big Ten play, while also snapping Nebraska's conference series winning streak. Nebraska had won its first three Big Ten series of the season and had won five straight conference series dating back to last season.
The Buckeyes scored four runs in the top of the eighth inning on Sunday after turning a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning on Saturday with a four-run inning.
Nebraska had the go-ahead run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Buckeye closer Trace Dempsey pitched OSU out of a jam to earn his 11th save of the season.
The Huskers started the ninth with back-to-back singles from Michael Pritchard and Chad Christensen, before Kash Kalkowski was HBP for the 15th time this season to load the bases. OSU reliever Ryan Riga then gave up consecutive RBI singles to Josh Scheffert and Blake Headley, cutting Ohio State's lead to 7-3. With the bases still loaded and no out, Head Coach Greg Beals went to Dempsey, who threw 40 pitches in Saturday's win.
Dempsey got Tanner Lubach to lineout for the first out of the inning and then pinch-hitter Austin Darby lifted a sacrifice fly to left field for the second out. With the top of Nebraska's order coming to the plate, Dempsey walked Rich Sanguinetti to again load the bases, setting the table for Pat Kelly to win the game. Kelly got behind 0-2 and Dempsey came out on top, as he got Kelly to pop out into foul territory to first baseman Brad Hallberg.
Dempsey's performance in the ninth secured a win for OSU starter Brian King, who kept the Husker bats in check, giving up just three hits and two walks over 7.0 innings of shutout work.
Nebraska's pitching staff did what it could to keep the Huskers in the game, holding to the Buckeyes to three runs over the first 7.0 innings of the game. OSU broke the game wide open with four runs on six hits in the eighth, will three of the four runs scoring with two outs. With the score 4-0 and two outs, OSU stung together four straight singles to push its lead to 7-0
The Huskers nearly got a rally going in the bottom of the eight after Headley walked, Lubach doubled and Wed Edrington singled. Riga came in to face the top of the Husker lineup and struck out Sanguinetti before getting Kelly to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Nebraska continues its five-game homestand with a pair of midweek games against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Huskers and Razorbacks open their two game series in front of a national-television audience on the Big Ten Network at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16. The teams meet the following after at 1:35 p.m.
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