Notebook: NU falls again on Friday night

In the opener of an important Big Ten Conference baseball series, the Nebraska Huskers came out flat, and despite battling back, fell to Purdue by the final score of 8-5.

Nebraska (25-14, 7-6) gave up four runs in the first inning to the Purdue Boilermakers (30-5, 11-2) on Friday night, as Husker starter Jon Keller only managed to pitch one inning. Blake Mascarello (7-1) was outstanding in relief for Purdue with 4.2 innings of no-hit baseball, shutting down any chance for the Huskers to come back after they had tied it in the 4th inning.

*Despite the fact that the Huskers were able to fight back, head coach Darin Erstad said that the lack of consistency on the mound was tough to overcome. "Our offense did a fantastic job of battling back… you just can't keep asking your offense to do that."

Nebraska has used three different starters on Friday nights in conference play, and they continue to struggle in getting productivity from their starters, as they drop to 1-4 on Fridays in Big Ten play. Tyler Neiderklein stopped the bleeding in relief, but gave up two homeruns, including the go-ahead shot in the top of the 5th right after Nebraska had taken the lead.

*As coach Erstad said, the Huskers didn't give up at the plate, despite being down 5-0 early. They tied the game with two runs in the 3rd inning and three in the 4th, but a key moment in the game came in the 4th inning when Kash Kalkowski hit into a double play with runners on first and third to end the threat.

Michael Pritchard had a solid performance at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Pritchard also extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the bottom of the 3rd. He is now hitting .394 on the season.

NOTES: *The Huskers failed to have a leadoff hitter reach base in any of their nine innings at the plate tonight. Purdue had the leadoff hitter reach base in four of the nine innings.

*The Huskers scored three runs in the 4th inning and have now outscored their opponents 57-8 in that frame this season.

*Coming into the game, Purdue starter Joe Haase had thrown two straight games of shutout baseball (16+ innings) but struggled only throwing 4.1 tonight. That is tied for his shortest outing this season.

*It was Military Appreciation night at the ballpark, as a crowd of 4,708 saw the Huskers wear camouflage jerseys to honor the military. The ceremonies and uniforms will continue throughout the weekend series.

After the game Purdue head coach Doug Schreiber said that he knows that his team will probably be facing a different looking club on the field the remainder of the weekend. "Tomorrow is going to be a whole different ballgame. Nebraska has struggled on Fridays for whatever reason. We fully expect them to come back and fight us the rest of the weekend."

But Erstad knows that it will be tough to fight back against the Boilermakers. "They're 30-5, they're doing something right… talent or no talent, they know how to win and they're doing a good job of that right now."

The Huskers will send sophomore Brandon Pierce (4-1, 2.83) to the hill on Saturday and will face off with Boilermaker Lance Breedlove (6-2, 2.23). First pitch is set for 2:05 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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