Nebraska loses to defending Pac-12 champs Utah, 7-5

Nebraska lost to defending Pac-12 champion Utah on Friday night, 7-5.


Surprise, Ariz. – Sophomore Angelo Altavilla went 4-for-4 with three doubles and four RBIs, but it came in a losing effort as the Nebraska baseball team (1-3, 0-0 Big Ten) lost to the defending Pac-12 champion Utah Utes (4-1, 0-0 Pac-12) by a score 7-5 on Friday night at Surprise Stadium.

The Huskers tied the game three times on the evening, but were never able to take a lead over the Utes. Nebraska tied the game, 5-5, in the bottom of the seventh before the Utes added an insurance run in both the eighth and ninth innings on their way to victory.

Hitting in the No. 9 spot of the Husker lineup Altavilla produced four of NU’s 11 hits and drove in a career-high four runs. Two of his three doubles came with two outs and both times they tied the game. The Lakeville, Minn., native is the first Husker with three doubles in a game since 2014 when Michael Pritchard hit three against St. John’s on March 9.

The Huskers were unable to cash in on early opportunities, as they had the bases loaded three time in the first four innings, but only came away with one run.

In his 2017 debut Derek Burkamper retired the first batter he faced on three pitches. The Utes then loaded the bases on a pair of bloop singles and a walk. Burkamper got another shallow fly ball and again it feel just in front of a Husker outfielder for an RBI single, giving Utah a 1-0 lead. With the bases loaded, Burkamper kept the damage to one run with a strikeout and a fly out.

Burkamper gave the Huskers 3.0 innings in a scheduled short start, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out three. Utah starter Jayson Rose didn’t factor into the decision either after giving up three runs on six hits and seven walks over 4.2 innings, while striking out six. Listed on the Golden Spikes watch list, Rose had to toss 107 pitches over his 4.2 innings.  

The Husker offense answered in the bottom of the first, getting a key two-out single from Luis Alvarado. Jake Meyers led off with a single on first offering he saw from Rose, stole second and was on third with two outs after a groundout by Ben Miller. Rose then walked Scott Schreiber and Alvarado came through with a line-drive RBI single to left field. Jake Schleppenbach worked a two-out walk to load the bases, but Rose was able to escape more damage with a pop out off the bat of Alex Raburn.

After both teams went down in order in the second, the Utes retook the lead in the third, 3-1. Utah’s first three batters of the frame notched singles before Burkamper got a 4-6-3 double play and a fly out. The Huskers had an opportunity to answer in the home half of the third when Rose walked the bases loaded with no out. The right hander responded with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a pop out to keep Utah on top, 3-1.

Nebraska loaded the bases again in the fourth on a one-out double by Altavilla, a single by Meyers and a walk by Mojo Hagge, but again Rose escaped damage by with back-to-back strikeouts of Miller and Schreiber.

Lefty reliever Nate Fisher put the top of Utah’s lineup down in order in the fifth and the Husker offense evened the game in the bottom of the frame, 3-3. Raburn started a two-out rally with his first hit as a Husker and Brady Childs followed with a walk, Rose’s seventh of the game. Utah went to left-handed reliever Josh Tedeschi with Altavilla coming to at the plate. The sophomore third baseman promptly tied the game by blasting a 2-0 offering from Tedeschi off the left-field wall for a two-RBI double. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, Tedeschi struck out Meyers to keep the game tied.

Utah retook the lead in the seventh on Hunter Simmons’ third single of the game. After an intentional walk put runners on first and second with two outs, Simmons lined a two-RBI single into right field to put the Utes ahead 5-3.

The lead didn’t last long, with Altavilla answering in the bottom of the inning. Alvarado and Schleppenbach started the bottom of the seventh with consecutive singles, forcing Utah to go to reliever Tanner Thomas. A sacrifice bunt by Raburn put two Huskers in scoring position and then Thomas retired Childs to put two outs on the board. Altavilla got behind 0-2 and after fouling off three straight pitches he roped a two-RBI double to right field, tying the game at 5-5.

After Nebraska tied the game for the third time Utah again retook the lead. Chandler Anderson led off the eighth with a single and later scored on an one-out single by DaShawn Keirsey Jr. to put the Utes ahead 6-5. Utah had the bases loaded with one out, but Chad Luensmann was able to escape the jam with a 6-4-3 double play.

The Utes added an insurance run in the top of the ninth and Dylan Drachler closed out the win with a perfect ninth inning.

The Huskers will get another shot at the No. 8 Oregon State Beavers tomorrow night at 5 p.m. (CT). The Beavers posted a 10-1 victory over the Huskers on Thursday afternoon.

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