After dropping a 7-6 decision on Friday night to the No. 25 UC Irvine Anteaters, the Nebraska baseball team (11-7, 0-0 Big Ten) bounced back and swept a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. The Huskers won game one, 13-4, and then took game two by a score of 7-4 to win the series in front of a season-high 5,001 fans at Hawks Field.
At the plate, the Huskers recorded 14 hits in the game two as all nine starters recorded a hit. Combined on the day, Nebraska notched 20 runs on 33 hits off a UCI pitching staff that entered the weekend with a team ERA of 1.68 that ranked sixth in the country.
Austin Darby paced the Husker offense in game two with a 3-for-5 performance, while scoring once and driving in one. Pat Kelly finished the contest with a pair of RBIs, and a pair of web gems at second base that kept the Anteaters from producing a big inning late. Kelly made the last out of the eighth when he ranged to his right, jumped in the air and threw across his body to get pinch hitter Ryan Cooper at first base. Steven Reveles, Ryan Boldt and Austin Christensen all pounded out two hits in the confidence-boosting victory for the Huskers.
In the three-games series, Boldt was 8-for-13 (.615) with four doubles and four RBIs, while Tanner Lubach led the team with six RBIs.
NU starter Chance Sinclair didn’t factor into the decision, but gave the Huskers 6.2 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on eight hits and three walks. Zach Hirsch got the win in relief and improved to 2-0 on the year, while Josh Roeder picked up his third save of the season with a perfect 1-2-3 ninth inning.
After getting blasted 13-4 in the game one on Saturday, Connor Spencer put UC Irvine up early with a two-out double in the top of the first that gave the Anteaters a 1-0 lead.
The Huskers didn’t threaten until the bottom of the third when Ben Miller came to the plate with the bases loaded following a double by Darby, an infield single by Boldt and a walk to Kelly. Miller put a good swing on a 1-2 pitch from UCI starter Evan Brock, but lined it directly at the second baseman to end the rally.
NU found its stride in the home-half of the fourth when Christensen, Lubach and Christian Cox produced consecutive hits to load the bases for Jake Placzek. Brock then cost himself a run when he uncorked a wild pitch that scored Christensen to tie the game, 1-1. After Brock struck out Placzek, Darby took the first pitch he saw to right field, bringing home Lubach on the play to give the Huskers the 2-1 edge after four innings.
UC Irvine tied the game in the top of the fifth with an unearned run after a two-out throwing error on a play at third sent the runner home. The game remained tied until the top of the seventh when UCI took a 3-2 lead in the on another unearned on a NU throwing error.
As the wind switched directions and the temperature dropped significantly, the Husker bats started to heat up in the bottom of the seventh to take a 5-3 advantage. Boldt started things with a one-out double down the left field line, his fourth of the series. Kelly stepped up and tied the game with an RBI single before moving to third on a single by Miller. Christensen kept the runs coming with a RBI single to right and Lubach drove in Miller with a RBI groundout to put Nebraska in front 5-3.
The Anteaters did not go away quietly, as Jerry McClanahan led off the eighth with a fly ball, but the strong winds blew it into the UCI bullpen behind the right-field wall for a solo home run. Hirsch kept the Anteaters from creating a big inning by retiring the next three batters in order.
Nebraska’s offense wasn’t satisfied and notched a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 7-4 lead. After Placzek started the frame with a leadoff walk, Darby singled on a 2-0 pitch with nobody out. Reveles sent a 0-1 pitch to right field that plated Placzek to stretch the NU lead to 6-4. Two batters later, Kelly drove in his second run of game two as Darby touched home to cap the scoring.
Josh Roeder came on in the ninth and put the Anteaters down in order on 11 pitches to earn his third save of the season.