Monday Baseball: Huskers take game four

The sun broke through the clouds about 10 minutes before first pitch at Hawks Field on Monday afternoon, and it was a sign of things to come, as Nebraska (10-6) drew a split in the four game series against No. 18 Cal (11-4) with a 9-5 win. The Huskers trailed early in the early innings for the fourth day in a row, but scored eight runs in what turned out to be a decisive fifth inning.

*Nebraska had gone 13 innings without scoring a run, until a bases loaded walk by Bryan Peters got the Huskers started in the 5th. Freshman Pat Kelly followed with a three-run triple and Josh Scheffert put the punctuation mark on the rally with a three-run shot to left field.

The entire inning was a great example of the approach Coach Erstad has been preaching all season long. The Huskers were patient at the plate, drawing a couple of walks and getting hit by a pitch, and the most impressive part was the Huskers hitting the ball where it was pitched. Erstad said yesterday they were pulling pitches they shouldn't have been: the main reason for the shutout. But Kelly's triple was hit to the opposite field gap, and Scheffert's homer was a perfect pitch to pull – and he did. It's obvious that Nebraska's hitters are learning from their mistakes and listening to their coaches.

*Tyler Niederklien (2-1) gave the Huskers a chance to win today with a solid outing on the mound – his first start of the year. The junior right-hander struggled early in the season with a failed experiment as a closer. Niederklein pitched out of jams in the 1st and 3rd innings, and his one mistake turned into a two-run homer by Cal's Tony Renda in the 5th. Niederklein's stat line isn't overly impressive – four runs on five hits, one walk and four strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. But he has been improving and should be a mainstay in the rotation, possibly replacing Zach Hirsch as the Friday night starter.

Other Notes: *The home run in the 5th inning by Scheffert was his second hit of the inning – the third baseman led off the same inning with a single. It's the first time Nebraska has had a player pull of the feat since last March when two players did it in the same game.

*Kale Kiser continues to get on base despite his low batting average. Kiser went 0-2 today, dropping his batting average to .200. However, the senior reached base twice on a walk and hit by pitch, raising his on base percentage to .451. His approach at the plate has been really solid, and his batting average is bound to go up eventually.

Nebraska will play a one game, mid-week series against South Dakota State tomorrow afternoon. Dexter Spitsnogle (0-0, 2.25) will take the mound for the Huskers. First pitch is set for 1:35 p.m.

- Josh Harvey -

Josh Hilkemann has worked for Big Red Report since October of 2011. He is currently a senior at UNL and has been featured on the Big Ten Digital Network as a play-by-play announcer for Husker basketball and volleyball.
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