Nebraska (11-6) took to the field for the fifth time in five days Tuesday against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (2-9-1) and came out with a lopsided win after a slow start. Three Jackrabbit errors and Husker runs in their last five frames helped NU dig out of an early hole and cruise to a comfortable victory.
Having SDSU follow Cal on the schedule was somewhat fortuitous as NU didn't look like it had a whole lot in the tank early on. As the game went on though, NU's batters warmed up and the pitchers began to control an over matched SDSU squad. Like many young teams, NU seems to be driven by momentum and stymied by a lack of it. We saw it against Cal, with huge offensive runs in games 1, 2, and 4 while being completely shut down in game 3. We saw it again Tuesday as the Huskers seemed stuck in neutral for three innings and then went off for 12 runs in the next 5 innings.
The game opened up with Nebraska falling behind by multiple runs for the 5th game in a row. SDSU catcher Zach Briggs hit a two run home in the top of the 1st off of awesomely named Husker starter Dexter Spitsnogle, giving the Jackrabbits an early 2-0 lead. Equally awesomely named SDSU starter Talon Jumper had early success against the NU batters, surrendering just one hit through the first three innings. After NU reliever Aaron Bummer retired the Jackrabbits in order in the top of the 4th, NU headed to the bottom half of the inning still trailing 2-0. Richard Stock ended NU's scoring drought there as he batted in Rich Sanguinetti, cutting the deficit to one. Stock would later be batted in by Blake Headley, tying the game at two going into the 5th.
SDSU went down in order in the top of the 5th, but NU was only getting started. After a Pat Kelly single, SDSU's first error of the day on a Chad Christensen ground ball gave NU the lead for good, 3-2. After Stock drew a walk, SDSU's second error of the game occurred on a Kalkowski hit, sending Christensen home and giving NU a 4-2 lead before the side was retired. Jeff Stovall came in to start the 6th inning but struggled and was replaced by Kyle Kubat after recording just two outs with two Jackrabbits aboard. Kubat battled out of the jam and NU escaped the side with its 4-2 lead intact. Headley opened the 6th with a single. After stealing both second and third, he ended up scoring on SDSU's third error of the game when an attempted pick off of Cory Burleson went awry. NU led 5-2 going into the 7th.
SDSU got its last run of the day in the top of the 7th on a Zach Rhodes single against yet another NU reliever, Ryan Hander. Hander would be pulled after just two outs and Brandon Pierce replaced him, shutting out the Jackrabbits for the next four outs. Meanwhile, NU teed off on the Jackrabbit pitching staff. Freshman JD Moore had a rough outing for the Jackrabbits as Josh Scheffert hit his second home run in two days and Headley followed with an RBI single, giving NU a commanding 8-3 lead heading into the 8th. After another unproductive Jackrabbit at bat, Nebraska continued to pile it on. Freshman Pat Kelly hit a solo home run, the first of his career to lead off the inning, and a glut of Husker hits would see three more runs come across in the 8th, putting NU up 12-3. NU closer Travis Huber retired the Jackrabbits in order in the top of the 9th to end the game.
W: Aaron Bummer, NU (1-0)
L: Blake Fiedelman, SDSU (0-1)
7: NU pitchers who saw action Tuesday. This is becoming a pattern for Erstad in mid-week games. I'm guessing he wants to give a number of guys experience while keeping them all fresh enough to see time in this weekend's series against Louisiana Tech.
19/21: The number of scoreless innings (over total innings) for NU before they ripped SDSU for five straight innings Tuesday. Hopefully NU does not become a "feast or famine" team as the season progresses.
Particularly nice job by pitcher Aaron Bummer who threw 2 and 1/3 perfect innings. He has yet to be hit this year.
Two more home runs for Nebraska, this team is showing some power.
Kind of nitpicky, but repeatedly falling in a hole early will cost NU games this year if it continues.
A couple injuries: Kalkowski strained his groin and is day to day while Cory Burleson took a pitch to the chin and exited the game.
When will I break down and buy a $5 lemonade from the yummy yummy guy?
Player of the Game:
Kind of tough to do on a day when there were a lot of fireworks, but I'll give the shout out to freshman Pat Kelly for his first homer as a Husker.
Nebraska improves to 11-6 on the year and is now midway through its big homestand. The Huskers resume play tomorrow at Haymarket Park as they begin a four game series with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. First pitch goes out at 3:05.