In front of a season-high crowd of 6,257 fans at Hawks Field on Saturday afternoon, the Nebraska baseball team (26-14, 8-6 Big Ten) evened its series with the No. 16 Purdue Boilermakers at a game apiece with a 8-3 win. The Huskers outhit the Boilermakers 13-11 on the day, including four extra-base hits, while NU’s pitching staff allowed just one extra-base hit.
Richard Stock led the Huskers with three runs and continued to hit the cover off the ball with a 4-for-4 performance at the plate, including his second home run of the season, to raise his batting average to a scorching .439 during Big Ten play. Josh Scheffert, Kale Kiser and Cory Burleson each had two hits on the afternoon, while Kiser and Pat Kelly both drove in a pair of runs. With a RBI single in the fifth, Michael Pritchard extended his hitting streak to 17 games.
Brandon Pierce gave the Huskers a career-high 7.0 innings in the win to improve to 5-1 on the year. The sophomore threw a career-high 116 pitches, tops for any Husker in 2012, as he gave up just two earned runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out three. Dylan Vogt threw a pair of shutout innings in relief and tallied one punch out.
For the second straight game the Huskers were able to knock out Purdue’s starter early, as Lance Breedlove left in the top of the sixth inning after giving up three straight hits to start the frame. Breedlove had thrown at least 7.0 innings in his first four conference starts this season and was undefeated during Big Ten play with a 4-0 record. Nebraska then forced the Boilermakers to use three relievers over the final 3.0 innings.
The momentum started to shift in the Huskers’ favor in the bottom of the fifth when NU strung together three straight one-out singles to cut Purdue’s lead to 3-2, before Breedlove got Rich Sanguinetti to ground into an inning-ending double play.
After Pierce made quick work of the Boilermakers in the top of the sixth, the Husker sticks punished Breedlove with three straight singles from Kalkowski, Stock and Scheffert to start the bottom of the frame and tie the game at 3-3. Brett Andrzejewski entered the game and Kelly welcomed him with his fifth double of the season to score Stock and put Nebraska up 4-3. Andrzejewski then got the first out of the inning and was replaced by Pat Gannon to face Kiser. The senior outfielder delivered a single for the second straight inning on a 2-2 pitch that scored two and extended NU’s lead to 6-3. Burleson then moved Kiser to second on a sacrifice bunt and Gannon looked to get out of the inning when Pritchard lifted a fly ball into left center, but Stephen Talbott dropped the routine fly out, allowing Kiser to score the Huskers’ fifth run of the inning to take a 7-3 lead.
Stock capped his perfect day at the plate with a one-out solo shot to right field in the seventh. The homer was a no-doubter off the bat that landed on the walkway behind the right-field bullpen. Along with his second home run of the season, the junior from Westlake Village, Calif., roped two singles on the day and his team-leading 12th double of the season.
For the fifth time this season during conference play the Huskers will enter the final game of the series with series tied at 1-1. Three times this year the Huskers have lost on Friday and responded with a pair of wins to take the series. The Huskers’ lone series loss this year came at Northwestern, when they won and Friday, before falling on Saturday and Sunday.
Head Coach Darin Erstad will hand the ball to lefty Zach Hirsch at 12:05 p.m. tomorrow and the sophomore will look to improve on his 4-2 record. After throwing a pair of seniors in the first two games of the series, Purdue will counter with freshman right-hander Connor Podkul, who is 1-0 on the year with a 2.30 ERA.