Cornhuskers Sweep Bama

The No.6 Nebraska Cornhuskers took advantage of wild University of Alabama bullpen and scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to post a 6-2 win over the No. 25 Crimson Tide and complete the three-game sweep at Hawks Field on Sunday afternoon.

Box Score

Alabama suffered its first sweep since losing all three games at LSU to close out the 2002 season. The three straight losses to Nebraska marked the first time since Feb. 24-26, 2001 that Alabama was swept in a non-conference series as the Tide dropped three at Central Florida.

The Huskers broke a 2-2 tie with a pair of bases loaded walks and then tacked on two more runs for their 13th straight win at Hawks Field.

"The pitching broke down at the end and that is the first time that has happened all year," a disappointed Alabama head coach Jim Wells said after the loss. "We had a lot of opportunities all weekend. Our starting pitching was good all weekend. Tommy Hunter threw great, we just broke down in the pen at the end."

Nebraska (11-2) took advantage of a pair of well placed singles and wildness from closer David Robertson too take the lead lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Jake Mort bounced a single up the middle to lead off the inning and Nimmo followed with a bunt single that he pushed past UA starter Tommy Hunter on the mound to put runners on first and second.

Robertson relieved Hunter and walked Jaros on five pitches to load the bases. He then walked Wehrle on four pitches to force Mort home from third with the go-ahead run.

Jordan Davis replaced Robertson and then promptly walked Luke Gorsett to force home Nimmo and give Nebraska a 4-2 lead. Brandon Buckman followed with a sac fly to center to score Jaros and put the Huskers up 5-3. Pinch-hitter Nick Sullivan grounded out to score Wehrle from third base to give the Huskers the 6-2 lead.

The four runs were more then enough for Brett Jensen, who picked up his second win of the series. After blowing the save in the eighth with a passed ball and sac fly in the eighth inning, Jensen (3-0) retired six of the seven UA batters for the win. In two innings, he gave up one hit and struck out one batter. Hunter (3-1) deserved much better fate on the mound for the Crimson Tide and was the tough-luck loser. The right-hander allowed four runs and four hits in seven-plus innings, with two walks and three strikeouts. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but got no offensive support.

Alabama (13-6) manufactured a run in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Junior centerfielder Emeel Salem led off the game with a sharp single to center field and moved up one base on a wild pitch by UNL starter Charlie Shierk. After a sacrifice bunt by Matt Downs, Salem scored the first run of the game on a ground out by Kody Valverde to give Bama the early lead.

The Crimson Tide missed an excellent opportunity to extend the lead in the fifth inning when Greg Paiml hit into a double play as Brandon Belcher was called for interference on a slide play at second base. Matt Bentley and Belcher drew one out walks to put runners first and second before the double play.

Hunter lost his no-hitter with one out in the sixth inning and then lost the lead two batters later as Ryan Wehle's two-out, two-run double down the right field line gave UNL a 2-1 lead. Nebraska's No. 9 hitter Jake Mort was hit by pitch with one out and Nimmo lined a double to left-center field just over the head of Paiml at shortstop. After a strikeout of Nick Jaros, Wehrle put the Huskers in front with his two-out double.

Alabama tied the game in the eighth inning when Matt Downs' sacrifice fly down the left field line off UNL closer Brett Jensen scored Salem to even the score at 2-2. Salem led off the inning when he smoked a double over the head of Nimmo in centerfield.

Jensen replaced left-hander Will Cranston and a passed ball charged to Jeff Christy allowed Salem to move to third base. Downs followed with a deep fly ball to left field to tie the game at 2-2.

Alabama returns home for a midweek game with No. 24 Southern Miss on Wednesday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. The Crimson Tide opens Southeastern Conference play on the road next weekend against No. 28 Georgia.

GAME NOTES:

*The Crimson Tide and Cornhuskers experienced a couple of different seasons of weather early Sunday morning forcing both teams to hit in the indoor cages. The first storm rolled through Lincoln about 8 a.m. and brought rain and significant amounts of sleet that covered roof tops and downtown streets.

A thunderstorm, producing large amounts of hail, came in as the Crimson Tide was leaving the hotel for the ballpark. The infield and outfield was covered with hail when Bama arrived at Hawks field around 10 a.m. The storms passed and with the state-of-the art underground heating system the field was ready to play for the 12:05 p.m. start. The game time temperature was 36 degrees with winds from the east at 15 mph, making the wind chill 27 degrees.

*The Alabama-Nebraska series drew 14,885 fans for the three-game series, setting a new three-game non-conference attendance record for Hawks Field. The Crimson Tide and Huskers drew 6,291 fans for the season opener, a record for the Huskers in a home opener. The series finale drew 3,283 fans in frigid weather.

*Alabama was 1-for-26 (.038) in the series with runners in scoring positon and went hitless in its last 25 at-bats with men in scoring position. David Ferazza's RBI single in the fourth inning of the series was the Tide's lone hit with runners in scoring position.

*Alabama is in the midst of playing seven straight games against ranked teams, including Nebraska, Southern Miss (March 15) and at Georgia (March 17-19). Alabama is 1-5 against ranked teams this season after Sunday's loss.


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