Husker Win Sets Up Sunday Series Showdown

Nebraska third baseman Jeff Tezak stroked the go-ahead single to left in the top of the ninth inning to lift the 17th ranked Cornhuskers to a 4-3 come-from-behind win over No. 13 University of Alabama in front of a season-high 4,963 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Tezak went 5-for-5 with a home run and two RBI, including the game-tying home run in the seventh inning and the go-ahead RBI single in the ninth inning for the Huskers. He is 6-for-6 in the series with Alabama, including a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning on Friday.

Nebraska (7-5) took advantage of a costly throwing error by Alabama catcher Ryan Rhoden in the ninth inning to plate the winning run. Mitch Abeita opened the inning with single against reliever Austin Hyatt and moved into scoring position on Steve Edlefsen's sacrifice bunt. Edlefsen was safe at first base on Rhoden's throwing error. DJ Belfonte's sacrifice bunt moved pinch-runner Luke Wertz and Edlefsen into scoring position before Tezak stroked an RBI single through the left side of the infield to give the Huskers the lead. Shortstop Ryan Wehrle grounded into a double play to end the inning.

"This was a great game today," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "As in most games, it all comes down to execution and we don't execute a bunt defense in the last inning. I thought we played hard."

Alabama (13-5) put the tying and winning runs on base in the ninth inning against Zach Herr. After retiring the first 10 batters he faced, Herr allowed a two-out infield single to senior shortstop Greg Paiml and a two-out walk to senior center fielder Emeel Salem before turning the game over to Edlefsen, who came in from right field. Edlefsen recorded his first save of the season when freshman third baseman Jake Smith lined out to Wehrle at short to end the game.

Herr (1-1) allowed only one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings out of the Nebraska bullpen. He walked one and struck out a career-high five batters. Hyatt (2-1) suffered the loss for Alabama after allowing one run and two hits in one inning of work.

Nebraska took its first lead of the series when first baseman Andrew Brown swatted a home run to left to lead off the second inning, giving the Huskers a 1-0 lead. It was Brown's second home run of the season.

The Huskers added an unearned run in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Brown doubled down the left field line to open the inning, moved to third on Andy Gerch's ground out and scored on a throwing error by starting catcher Jared Avchen. Alabama broke up Charlie Shriek's no-hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning on a one-out double by Kent Matthes, but he was stranded at third base. The Crimson Tide wasted another leadoff hit in the fifth inning as the Huskers held on to its 2-0 lead. Freshman second baseman Brandon May led off the inning with a bunt single, moved to second on Avchen's sacrifice bunt and took third on Paiml's infield ground out.

Salem then drew a two-out walk and May tried to score from third when the ball bounced off Abeita's mitt. Abeita tracked down the ball threw to Shriek at home who tagged out May to end the inning.

Alabama grabbed a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning to chase Shriek from the game. After Jake Smith was retired on a spectacular play by Wehrle at shortstop, Alabama loaded the bases with three straight singles from sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila, sophomore right fielder Kent Matthes and junior first baseman Matt Bentley to chase Shriek from the game.

Huskers reliever Matt Foust came in and walked the two batters he faced and in the process allowed Alabama to tie the game when Avila scored on a passed ball and Matthes crossed the plate on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter Elvin Vargas greeted Zach Herr - the Huskers third pitcher of the inning -- with a sacrifice fly to right-center to score Bentley with the go-ahead run.

Shriek allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He added walked one and struck out three.

Alabama sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter did not figure in the decision despite eight strong innings on the mound. He held the Huskers to three runs on nine hits through eight innings with no walks and a career-high nine strikeouts. The series wraps up with an 11 a.m. (CDT) game on Sunday, March 11. Alabama will send senior right-hander Bernard Robert (2-1, 3.07 ERA) to the mound against Nebraska junior right-hander Johnny Dorn (2-1, 4.26 ERA). The game will be televised locally by WVUA Sports.

GAME NOTES:

*The paid attendance at Saturday's Alabama-Nebraska game was 4,936, the largest crowd of the season.

*Alabama sophomore right hander Tommy Hunter (Indianapolis, Ind.) recorded a career-high nine strikeouts against Nebraska. He did not figure into the decision after leaving a 3-3 game after eight innings.

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) reached base twice on Saturday and has now reached base in all 18 games this season.

*Sophomore left fielder/catcher Ryan Rhoden (Tuscaloosa) drew a two-out walk in the seventh inning and has reached base in all 17 games he has played this year.

*Nebraska third baseman Jeff Tezak tied a stadium record with five hits on Saturday. He was 5-for-5 with a home run and two RBI in the win. He tied the game with a solo home run off Hunter in the seventh inning and then gave the Huskers the lead with a RBI single in the ninth. It was the second five-hit game by a Husker this season. Andy Gerch had five hits in a win over Illinois State.

*Tezak and first baseman Andrew Brown were a combined 7-for-9 in the win over Alabama with two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored.


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