The Nebraska baseball team (6-5, 0-0 Big Ten) opened its 2014 home schedule with a decisive 12-4 victory over St. John’s (3-8, 0-0 Big East) in front of 1,366 fans at the cool and windy Hawks Field on Friday afternoon. The Huskers rallied in the second inning for seven runs en route to a season-high 16 hits. NU is now 13-0 all-time in home openers at Hawks Field and have won 36 straight home openers dating back to 1979.
Head Coach Darin Erstad’s squad posted runs in the second, fifth and eighth innings in a contest which saw seven Huskers produce multiple hits. Junior Pat Kelly, who also drove in a pair of runs, and freshman Ryan Boldt both paced NU’s offense at the dish with three hits apiece, while Ben Miller and Jake Placzek each had doubles.
Senior Michael Pritchard, who went 2-for-4 on the day with a pair of RBIs and runs scored, walked in the bottom of the first to reach base for the 53rd straight game. Pritchard’s streak is the longest active streak in the country.
Senior Zach Hirsch earned his first victory of the year in relief, going 2.0 innings. The 6-4 lefty gave up a hit and a walk with one strikeout in his fifth appearance of the season. Junior Kyle Kubat got the start in his season debut and gave NU 4.2 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, while striking out four.
The Huskers’ offense came alive in the home half of the second inning, plating seven runs on seven hits. After the first two batters reached base, Miller ripped a single to right field to put NU on the board. Pritchard recorded a two-RBI single up the middle while Tanner Lubach, Austin Darby, Placzek and Kelly also drove in a run during the rally. Darby finished with two RBIs on the day.
The Red Storm kept things interesting as they pushed across four runs in the top of the fifth on a pair of bases-loaded walks and a two-RBI single from first baseman Matt Harris.
The Huskers answered the SJU surge with a trio of two-out runs in the fifth. Run-scoring singles by Austin Christensen and Boldt contributed to the NU response in the inning, which was capped with a bases-loaded walk drawn by Darby to push the NU lead back up to 10-4.
Kelly’s second RBI-single of the game came in the eighth and was followed by a wild pitch that plated Pritchard to cap the scoring.