NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Tempe, Ariz. – After dropping its 2017 season-opener earlier in the day, the Nebraska baseball team responded with a 5-4 victory in game two of Friday’s doubleheader against the UC Riverside Highlanders.
Jake McSteen picked up Nebraska’s first win of the year on the mound with three strikeouts over 2.2 innings of perfect relief out of the bullpen. Sophomore Chad Luensmann picked up his first save of the season and the 14th of his career with 3.0 innings of relief behind McSteen.
After recording four hits in game one, the Huskers notched nine in the night cap, including three hits from No. 8 hitter Brady Childs and two hits from No. 9 hitter Mojo Hagge. Nebraska totaled four doubles, including one each from Childs, Hagge, Ben Miller and Jake Meyers.
Childs also played well behind the plate. Following a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth, Childs threw out Michael Farris to empty the bases. It was a big out as the Highlanders notched a pair of two-out singles later in the inning with the bases loaded and left the tying run at second base to end the game.
In his Husker debut freshman Paul Tillotson retired 10 straight Highlanders to start the game before Mark Contreras roped a one-out single in the fourth. The Monument, Colo., native would give up five consecutive singles and quickly his day was done with the Huskers down 2-0 and the bases loaded with Highlanders. McSteen came in and got two quick outs to put out the fire, including a fielder’s-choice 1-2 groundout and an inning-ending strikeout.
UCR starter Ryan Lillie retired the first two Huskers he faced in the fifth, but then Brady Childs started a two-out rally with his first hit as a Husker. Hagge kept the rally going with a walk to bring up the top of the NU lineup, and Meyers delivered a game-tying two-RBI double with Hagge scoring all the way from first to tie the game. Scott Schreiber followed with a RBI single to give the Huskers their first lead of the day, 3-2. Lillie was able to end the frame with a pop out off the bat of Miller.
After McSteen retired his eighth straight Highlander in the bottom of the sixth, the bottom of NU’s lineup started a rally in the top of the seventh. With one down Childs pick up his second single of the game and Hagge continued his impressive debut with a double down the right-field line on a hit-and-run. Facing the top of the NU lineup and one down, reliever Johnny Breidenthal intentionally walked Meyers to load the bases. The gamble paid off as Breidenthal got Schreiber to pop out and Miller to fly out, leaving the bases full.
Holding a 3-2 lead in the eighth the Huskers tacked on a pair of runs, with the bottom of NU’s lineup doing damage once again. Luis Alvarado led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. With one down Alex Raburn picked up his first Husker RBI, as the North Carolina transfer plated Alvarado with a ground out to second base. Jake Schleppenbach then worked a two-out walk and scored all the way from first on a double by Childs, his third hit of the game, increasing the NU lead to 5-2.
The two runs in the top of the eighth were big for the Huskers, as Riverside answer with two of its own in the bottom of the frame. The Highlanders had the tying run at third base with two outs, but Luensmann ended the inning with a 6-4 groundout.
The Highlanders threated again in the ninth when the top of their order recorded back-to-back two-out singles to put the tying run in scoring position, but Luensmann got a game-ending pop up off the bat of pinch-hitter Cody Sporrer
Game three of this weekend’s four-game series is scheduled for 1 p.m. (CT) tomorrow at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Rain is in the forecast, so check Huskers.com for any schedule updates.