NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Lincoln – Trailing 6-5 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning the Nebraska baseball team (21-13-1, 5-3-1 Big Ten) scored three runs, with two coming in on a triple by Mojo Hagge. Luis Alvarado closed the door in the ninth, his sixth save of the year, and the Huskers notched a 8-6 win to avoid a sweep by the Iowa Hawkeyes (22-12, 5-4 Big Ten). Nebraska hasn’t been swept at home during conference play in 2009, when it was swept three times during Big 12 play by Kansas State, Texas and Missouri.
The Huskers entered the eighth with a 5-4 lead, but Iowa scored twice with two outs to take its first lead of the game, 6-5. Nebraska then answered in the bottom of the inning, as Hagge lined the first pitch he saw from reliever Josh Martsching down the right-field line for a two-RBI triple, his second three bagger of the year. Martsching then hit Jake Meyers and Angelo Altavilla drove in Hagge with a RBI single.
Alvarado took the mound in the ninth and had to face the top of Iowa’s lineup. The junior right hander made quick work of the first two batters before Jake Allen roped a two-out double, his fourth double of the series. Alvarado came back and got a pop out to end the game.
The Huskers outhit the Hawkeyes, 12-11, and Scott Schreiber led the way with three hits, while Altavilla and Alvarado each added a pair of hits. The bottom of NU’s lineup also came through in the clutch, as No. 8 hitter Jake Schleppenbach had a two-out two-RBI single in the sixth and Hagge in the nine-hole had the two-out two-RBI triple in the eighth.
Nebraska is now 6-0-1 on Sundays this season and sits in fourth place in the Big Ten behind Minnesota, Maryland and Michigan. The Huskers play at Minnesota (7-2) next weekend, have already taken a series from Maryland (9-3) and don’t play Michigan (6-3) this year.
Meyers made his eighth start of the season and worked around a one-out single in the top of the first and then the NU offense plated a pair of runs in the home half of the first. Meyers served Iowa starter Cole McDonald’s first pitch of the game into left field for a single and then Altavilla laid down a sacrifice bunt, but on the play McDonald couldn’t gather the ball and Altavilla reached on the error. McDonald then walked Ben Miller and the Huskers had the bases loaded with no out. Schreiber stepped in and picked up his 26th and 27th RBIs of the season with a single though the left side of the infield. McDonald was able to escape major damage with a fielder’s choice and an inning-ending double play.
Meyers put the Hawkeyes down in order in the top of the second and the Huskers plated another run on three hits. Altavilla singled with one out and was still at first with two down when Schreiber and Alvarado delivered consecutive two-out singles, with Altavilla scoring on Alvarado’s seventh hit of the series to put the Huskers up 3-0.
Iowa reliever Elijah Wood took over in the top of the fourth and sat the Huskers down in order in the fourth and fifth, giving the Hawkeye offense a chance to get back in the game.
After giving up the one-out single to Mason McCoy in the first, Meyers retired 12 straight Hawkeyes before Tyler Cropley doubled with one out in the fifth. Cropley then moved to third on a balk and scored on a single by Austin Guzzo. Meyers bounced back with an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to keep the Huskers ahead 3-1.
Leadoff hitter Chris Whelan got the Hawkeyes going in the sixth, winning a 10-pitch battle against Meyers with a one-out single. Meyers came back and got a fly out before Adams notched his third double of the series, putting two Hawkeyes in scoring position. Meyers got ahead 0-2 on Robert Neustrom, but the Iowa right fielder served the third pitch of the at bat into center field for a game-tying two-RBI single. Meyers then walked Ben Norman and the Hawkeyes had the go-ahead run in scoring position. Nebraska went to reliever Jake McSteen, who got a pop out to keep the game tied, 3-3.
Nebraska answered with two runs on their own in the bottom of the sixth. Wood had retired six straight before giving up consecutive singles to Schreiber and Alvarado to start the bottom of the sixth. The Huskers brought in pinch-hitter Alex Raburn, you laid down a sacrifice bunt that put both Schreiber and Alvarado in scoring position. Jesse Wilkening stepped in and laced an 1-1 offering, but it was hit right at second baseman Mitchell Boe for the second out of the frame. With two down, Schleppenbach came through with a two-RBI single, putting the Huskers back on top 5-3.
Iowa was in position to even the game in the top of the seventh, but managed one run. McSteen retired the leadoff batter, but then gave up back-to-back singles to the bottom of the order that put runners on the corners. Whelan then hit into a RBI fielder’s choice, but on the play Altavilla threw wide of second base, and Hawkeyes not only scored a run, but also had two runners in scoring position. The frame then quickly ended on an Iowa base running error, as McCoy popped out to shallow left-center field and shortstop Brison Cronenbold doubled up Whelan at second base.
Meyers worked a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, but the Huskers were unable to cash in the opportunity. Iowa then scored for the fourth straight inning in the top of the eighth, putting up two runs to take its first lead of the game. Adams led off and reached on an error, which would prove costly. Reliever Chad Luensmann then gave up a single, got a fly out and walked Cropley, loading the bases with one down. Luensmann induced a shallow fly ball to center which should have ended the frame, but because of the error Matt Hoeg came to the plate and the third baseman took advantage of the opportunity with a two-RBI single, putting the Hawkeyes up 6-5. Luensmann ended the frame with a fly out to left.
Brison Cronenbold and Wilkening each singled with one out in the eighth and the Hawkeyes turned to Martsching, who got the win in open after throwing 2.1 innings of no-hit shutout relief. The right hander struck out Schleppenbach, but then gave up the two-RBI triple to Hagge. He then hit Meyers with his next pitch and the Hawkeyes brought in Zach Daniels, who gave up the RBI single to Altavilla.
With a 8-6 lead, Alvarado started the ninth with a strikeout of Whelan. He then got help from his defense, as Cronenbold made a bare-handed play on a grounder off the bat of McCoy. Adams doubled and then Neustrom popped out on the first pitch he saw from Alvarado, ending the game.
The Huskers will play their next four games on the road, starting with a trip TD Ameritrade Park for a meeting with the Creighton Bluejays. Nebraska will then head to Minneapolis next weekend for a three-game series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.