Husker Rally Falls Short in 7-6 Loss
Lincoln - Facing one of the most dominant starting pitchers in thecountry in Andrew Morales, the Nebraska baseball team (9-7, 0-0 Big Ten) put upsix runs on Friday night in front of 3,424 fans at Hawks Field, but it wasn'tenough as the No. 25 UC Irvine Anteaters (13-4) took the series opener with a7-6 victory. The Huskers had the tying run at first base with two down in thebottom of the ninth, but Irvine closer Sam Moore got a groundball off the batof Steven Reveles to earn his ninth save of the season.
Down three runs entering the ninth, freshman Ryan Bolt startedthings with a double down the left field line before Jake Placzek reached on awalk. Freshman Ben Miller then ripped a RBI single to left, while a fielder'schoice off the bat of Austin Darby plated Placzek to cut the deficit to one.But the Huskers were unable to come up with one more big hit, as an 0-1 pitchwas grounded back to the pitcher to end the rally and the contest.
Morales, who hadn't given up an earned run all season in 30.0innings entering Friday, lasted just 4.2 innings and gave up three earned runsto the Huskers in the fifth. Nebraska starter Kyle Kubat didn't last longeither, as he fell to 0-1 on the year after giving up three runs on four hitsand four walks in 3.0 innings of work.
At the plate, NU's offense was paced by Boldt, who was 2-for-3with a double and two runs scored. In his first start since Feb. 22 aftermissing seven games with a hamstring injury, Reveles drove in a career-high tworuns. On the night, Michael Pritchard saw his nation-leading on-base streakcome to an end at 57 games with an 0-for-4 showing at the plate. The last gamePritchard didn't reach was also against UC Irvine, last season on March 17 atAnteater Ballpark.
The Anteaters' offense was powered by its 3-4-5-6 hitters, whoeach had a pair of hits, including preseason All-American Taylor Sparks who was2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs.
UC Irvine jumped out quickly with a pair of runs in the top of thefirst inning to take a 2-0 lead. After Darby led off with a walk in the firstfor the Huskers, Morales retired the next 12 NU hitters in order. AustinChristensen produced the first Husker hit of the day to begin the fifth.
In the top of the fourth after retiring seven-straight Anteaters,Kubat got into a jam when he gave up a walk, a hit and then a pair of walksthat gave UCI a 3-0 lead. Senior Bob Greco entered the game with the baseloaded and proceeded to strike out the side to bring the crowd to its feet.Morales then quieted the crowd by retiring NU's 2-3-4 hitters in order in thebottom of the fourth.
The Anteaters pushed their lead to 5-0 in the fifth when Sparksblasted a two-run homer that carried over the berm in left-center field. TheHuskers responded in the bottom of the frame when Tanner Lubach drew abases-loaded walk and a two-RBI single from Reveles that cut the Anteater leadto two at 5-3. The earned runs against Morales ended a streak of 34.1 inningsof unblemished work.
After each team plated a run in the sixth, the Anteaters scoredthe eventual game-winning run in the top of the seventh. Reliever Jeff Chesnutgot the first two outs of the inning, but then gave up three consecutivesingles to Irvine's 7-8-9 hitters that scored Justin Castro.
Due to impending weather on Sunday, the Huskers and Anteaters willplay a doubleheader tomorrow. Game one is set to start at 12:05 p.m., with gametwo set to start 45 minutes after the completion of the first game.
Courtesy UNL Sports Information