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Bloomington, Ind. – The Nebraska baseball team (14-10-1, 1-0 Big Ten) opened Big Ten play at Bart Kaufman Field night with a 7-3 win over the Indiana Hoosiers (14-10, 3-1 Big Ten), who dropped its first league game of the year after sweeping Northwestern last season.
Nebraska out-hit the Hoosiers, 11-10, with four Huskers producing multiple hits. With only four home runs through the first 23 games of the season, the Huskers recorded their first multi-home run game of the year with Ben Miller and Luis Alvarado each hitting long balls. Miller’s solo shot in the fourth tied the game, while Alvarado’s three-run shot in the eighth extended NU’s lead from 4-3 to 7-3.
Jake Hohensee went a career-high 7.1 innings and matched a career high with five strikeouts in his sixth start of the season. Now 3-2 on the year, Hohensee allowed eight hits, but held the Hoosiers to three runs. The 7.1-inning performance topped then-career-high 6.2-inning starts the last two weekends. After walking at least two batters in each of his first five starts of the year, Hohensee didn’t issue a free base night.
Nate Fisher worked 1.1 shutout innings behind Hohensee and Chad Luensmann closed the door in the ninth. With the two runners on, two down and the tying run on deck Luensmann needed one pitch to record his fourth save of the year and the 17th of his career, tying him with Thom Ott for third place on NU’s career saves list.
Indiana starter Jonathan Stiever went 6.1 innings in a no decision. The sophomore right hander allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and no walks, while striking out four. Stiever didn’t allow more than one hit in an inning until the sixth when Huskers got a double and a single to start the frame.
Hohensee sat Indiana’s first six batters down in order before Ryan Fineman opened the bottom of the third with a double. The Hoosiers then tried to sacrifice Fineman to third, but Mike Waldron made a diving catch in foul territory on a bunt by Tony Butler for the first out. Hohensee then struck out Colby Stratten looking and the lineup rolled over with two out. Alex Krupa roped the first offering from Hohensee into the right-field corner for a RBI double, plating the game’s first run. Hohensee limited the damage to one run, getting Matt Gorski to foul out for the third out of the inning.
Working with a 1-0 lead, Stiever retired his fifth and sixth straight Huskers to start the fourth before Miller came up. The senior got in a 1-2 hole and fouled off three straight pitches before he turned on an inside fastball and blasted it well over the right-field fence for a game-tying home run. Miller’s second homer of the season landed just past a 408-foot sign on a light pole in the outfield berm.
The Hoosiers quickly answered in the bottom of the fourth and retook the lead, 2-1. Luke Miller started a rally with a one out single and Matt Lloyd followed with a double, putting two runners in scoring position. Logan Sowers stepped in and delivered a sacrifice fly to right for his 15th RBI of the year. Hohensee limited the damage to one run by striking out Fineman.
Indiana had a shot to blow the game wide open in the fifth when its No. 8 and 9 hitters reached on consecutive Husker errors, putting two on with no outs for the top of the lineup. Krupa tried to move both his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but instead popped it up to Hohensee for the first out of the inning. Hohensee then got a shallow fly out off the bat of Gorski and escaped the inning without any damage when Miller made a diving stop to his left on a hard-hit ground ball of the bat of Craig Dedelow, robbing the Hoosier center fielder of extra bases and two RBIs.
With momentum back on its side, the Husker offense knotted the game at 2-2 with a run in the top of the sixth. Angelo Altavilla led off with his ninth double of the season and then moved to third on an infield single by Jake Meyers. Two pitches later Scott Schreiber tied the game with a deep sacrifice fly to center field. With a runner still on first, the Huskers were unable to plate the go ahead run, as Miller hit into an inning-ending double play.
Nebraska then plated a run in the top of the seventh to take its first lead of the series, 3-2. Alvarado led off with a single, extending his hitting streak to five games. Alvarado then took off for second on the first pitch to Waldron, he swiped the bag and moved to third on a throwing error by Fineman, the Hoosiers’ third error of the night. With the infield pulled in Stiever struck out Waldron, but then allowed a RBI single to Cedar Lake, Ind., native Jesse Wilkening. The Hoosiers brought in reliever B.J. Sabol, who retired Jake Schleppenbach and Mojo Hagge in order.
Indiana answered in the bottom of the seventh, tying the game on a two-out single. After a leadoff fly out, Stratten reached on a single to left field. Hohensee was ahead 1-2 on Krupa before he uncooked a wild pitch that allowed Stratten to move into scoring position. Hohensee struck out Krupa looking and was in position to strand Stratten, but Gorski tied the game with an RBI single to center field. The Hoosiers didn’t get a chance to take the lead, as Gorski was thrown out 8-2-6 at second base on the play to end the seventh.
After neither team had put together a multi-run frame through the first six innings, the Huskers plated four runs in the top of the eighth, with three scoring on Alvarado’s three-run homer. Sabol walked Altavilla to start the seventh and nearly got a double play off the bat of Meyers, but the NU center fielder hustled down the line beat the throw to first. Schreiber stepped in and notched his eighth double of the year, putting runners on second and third. Indiana allowed Sabol, a lefty, to face Miller, a lefty, and Miller won the battle with a RBI single to right field, giving the Huskers a 4-3 lead. With runners on the corners the Hoosiers went to junior left hander Austin Foote to face Alvarado. After seeing a ball from Foote, Alvarado went opposite field for his first home run of the season, a three-run shot over the right-center field wall. Foote responded with back-to-back strikeouts, but not before the Huskers took a 7-3 lead.
Hohensee came out for the bottom of the eighth and retired Dedelow to start the frame. Miller followed with a double and the Huskers went to Fisher. The Yutan, Neb., native got a flyout and a strikeout of Sowers, stranding Miller at second base.
Fineman started the bottom of the ninth and Fishers got back-to-back outs before Krupa reached on an infield single to put the tying run on deck. The Huskers went to Luensmann, who needed just one pitch to retire Gorski for the final out of the game.
The Huskers and Hoosiers continue their series at and it will be video streamed on BTN Plus.