"Jon (Keller) was great," head coach Mike Anderson said. "The key was being in the strike zone and he threw a lot of strikes. That was a really good showing for a freshman for his first time out. That's pretty exciting. It's got the team buzzing a little bit because it was so good."
Keller, an 11th round by Seattle in the 2010 MLB Draft, struck out five in the first two innings alone and did not allow any Falcons to advance past second base. The NU bats put up three runs for Keller before exploding for five over the seventh and eighth innings, highlighted by a long Chad Christensen homer to left field in the eighth.
"I wasn't really nervous, but I was anxious and ready to get out there," Keller said of his collegiate debut. "My offense did great and the defense behind me did as well. It's not hard when you get a lot of support from your offense. I'm excited."
In addition to Christensen's 2-for-4 day with two RBIs, Kale Kiser and Cory Burleson also had multiple-hit games as each went 2-for-3 at the plate.
The Huskers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning triggered by Burleson's leadoff double over center fielder Nathan Carter. The Midland, Texas native then scored on Khiry Cooper's bases-loaded groundout to give NU an early lead.
Kiser reached on a walk to begin the fifth inning, marking the third time in the first half of the game that NU's leadoff hitter reached first. Kiser then scored on a hard-hit RBI double to right center from Josh Scheffert. A native of Lincoln, Neb., Scheffert homered in Friday's game against Texas State and then scored Nebraska's third run as Burleson ripped an RBI double down the right field line.
It looked as if Keller may have been losing his form in the bottom of the fifth when he gave up a double and had limited trouble hitting the strike zone. The freshman calmed down to get out of inning unscathed and faced only four batters in the sixth before he was taken out following 81 pitches.
Air Force starter Sean Carley also went six innings and gave up five hits and three runs. He was relieved by Brad Pingel, who was greeted in the top of the seventh with a double from Kiser on the first pitch. Bryan Peters followed with a bunt single down the third base line before Kiser scored on a wild pitch. Cody Asche kept the hitting barrage going by ripping an RBI double down the right field line and knocked Pingel out of the game after retiring one. Asche scored the final run of the inning on a Burleson sacrifice fly.
Christensen's home run off Cameron White started the eighth inning, while Khiry Cooper also hit a single and eventually came around to score NU's final run.
Nebraska will continue the Texas State Tournament tomorrow in San Marcos with a pair of games against Air Force and Washington. The Huskers will meet the Falcons in the early match-up at 11 a.m., before taking on the Huskies at 7 p.m.