Tuesday night was a great night for the Husker baseball team, who defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 14-5 in Lincoln.
Fans fought over free t-shirts and loudly contested the umpires’ calls on a chilly evening at Haymarket Park where the Huskers’ bats never stopped flying, despite the Wildcats using five different pitchers.
Nebraska was down early but exploded offensively in the second half of the game to improve to 24-14 on the season with an impressive win over Kansas State, who fell to 20-17.
Kansas State got the scoring going early, putting up four runs in the first inning off of Husker pitcher Austin Christensen, who was replaced after just one inning. The Huskers scored two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning on a single by left fielder Michael Pritchard and a sacrifice fly by second baseman Pat Kelly.
Wildcats RJ Santigate and Tyler Stover singled in the second and third innings, but were both left on base. In the bottom of the third the Huskers’ Jake Placzek walked, followed by a double from Michael Pritchard, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Pat Kelly’s single brought in one run and Austin Darby grounded into a double play bringing in another run. This tied the score at four after three innings.
The Wildcats scored a run in the fourth when second baseman Ross Kivett stole home after a high pitch from Colton Howell bounced off the catcher’s mitt. This was the only run scored by the Wildcats after their four-run first inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, a single by Husker center fielder Ryan Boldt and a double by third baseman Jake Placzek put two runners in scoring position. Wildcat pitcher Landon Busch was called for a balk, which advanced the runners and scored Boldt. A suicide squeeze brought Placzek home, giving the Huskers their first lead of the game, 6-5.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Huskers added four more runs on five hits, including a two-run homerun by catcher Tanner Lubach. After five innings the Huskers were up 10-5.
In the top of the sixth, Wildcats catcher Blair DeBord put his team in good position with a lead-off hit, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it to a double. After the balk called on the Wildcats pitcher in the fourth inning, DeBord had argued vehemently with the umpire. He also expressed his anger at being called out on the tag at second. Husker fans reacted. They shouted “He talks WAY too much,” and “Look, it’s the catcher again. He’s my favorite.”
Neither team scored in the sixth or seventh innings, but the Huskers again put up four runs in the bottom of the eighth, to stretch their lead to nine runs. Three Husker batters, Quint McGill, Tanner Lubach and Blake Headley, hit consecutive RBI doubles to bring in Nebraska’s last four runs of the game.
Husker pitcher Max Knutson struck out Wildcat pinch hitter Lance Miles to end the game. The winning pitcher was Nebraska’s Colton Howell and the loss went to Kansas State’s Landon Busch.
The Wildcats’ best performer was RJ Santigate, who was 4-4 with two stolen bases and a run scored. The Huskers’ best hitter was Michael Pritchard, who was 5-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Nebraska’s Ryan Boldt was 4-5 with three runs scored and Jake Placzek and Blake Headley were both 3-4 with an RBI each.
I live-tweeted the game’s play-by-play, and here is the link to my Twitter stream.