A career-high 8.0 innings from sophomore Jon Keller carried the Nebraska baseball team (23-12, 5-4 Big Ten) to its third straight win on Tuesday night in a 5-3 victory over the Creighton Bluejays. Keller improved to 4-1 on the year, as he gave up just two runs (one earned) on three hits, while striking out six.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native retired the first seven Jays he faced before giving up a walk to Jake Peter. Cory Burleson then threw out Peter on a steal attempt, his 16th runner caught stealing on the season. Keller got back in a groove and caught Brennan Murphy looking at strike three to end the third. On the night, four of Keller’s six strikeout victims looked at strike three.
Keller took the mound to start the ninth inning and looked to pick up the first complete game by a Husker since his teammate Tom Lemke went the distance against Texas A&M on May 2, 2010, but Keller saw his night come to an end after issuing a leadoff walk to Nick Judkins.
Travis Huber came in and gave up three straight hits, but bounced back with a strikeout and a game-ending double play to secure the Huskers’ 23rd win of the season.
The Husker defense was solid throughout the night with a pair of double plays and a few outstanding individual efforts. Josh Scheffert made of one the best plays of the season in the top of the second when his momentum on a grounder down the third-base line took him back behind the bag in foul territory, but he regained his footing and rifled a laser across the diamond to get Scott Thornburg at first base.
The Huskers strung together nine hits on the night, including two each from Michael Pritchard and Austin Darby. Chad Christensen drove in his team-leading 36th and 37th RBI’s of the season and for the first time all year the Huskers failed to draw a walk.
After failing to score in either of the first two innings, when they led off both frames with singles, the Huskers took a one-run lead in the third on a two-out RBI single from Kash Kalkowski that scored Rich Sanguinetti.
NU did the rest of its scoring in the fourth with four runs on four hits and one Creighton error. Darby got the inning going with a one-out single and moved to second on a passed ball. The freshman then moved to third on a groundout by Pat Kelly. With two down, Burleson caught the Jays napping with his third and the Huskers’ 24th bunt single of the season. Burleson then went first to third on a single by Pritchard, who moved to second on the throw to third. With a chance to end the inning the Jays instead cost themselves three runs, as Sanguinetti reached on an error by Chance Ross at third that allowed Burleson to score and extended the inning for Christensen to later drive in Pritchard and Sanguinetti with a single.
With the four runs against the Jays in the fourth, the Huskers have outscored their opponents 47-7 in the fourth inning this season.
After playing four straight at home, the Huskers hit the road this week for a three-game series against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio. Friday’s series opener will be the first game between the two teams since 2001 and is scheduled for a 5:35 p.m. (CT) first pitch. The squads will meet again at Bill Davis Stadium on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and Sunday at 12:05 p.m. All three games will be video streamed at OhioStateBuckeyes.com (subscription required), while Lane Grindle and Jeff Culhane will have the call on the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com.