No. 17 Husker Baseball Team Sweeps Wildcats, 9-5

Daniel Bruce's seventh-inning RBI single broke a 3-all tie, as No. 17 Nebraska completed its first sweep of Kansas State in Manhattan since 1996 with a 9-5 victory at Tointon Stadium Sunday afternoon. <P> Bruce's hit sparked the Huskers (21-5, 5-1 Big 12) to a four-run seventh inning, as Nebraska overcame a 3-2 deficit en route to its sixth straight win and seventh straight victory over KSU. NU, which is off to its best 26-game mark since 1988, has now won 14 of its last 15 contests.

A junior from Omaha, Bruce went 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, as the Huskers scored seven runs in the final three innings. Curtis Ledbetter went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, while Alex Gordon added his 10th homer of the year.

After seeing its 43.1 scoreless inning streak snapped earlier in the game, four Husker relievers combined for the last 4.1 innings to keep the Huskers in the game. Dustin Timm picked up his first win since March of 2002 with two innings of one-run relief, while Mike Sillman picked up his third save with two scoreless innings of work.

Braden Keith gave the Huskers a 1-0 lead in the third with an RBI single. Beau Sullivan coaxed a leadoff walk and moved to second on John Grose's grounder before Keith, who went 2-for-4, found a hole between first and second to drive in the run..

The Wildcats finally scratched the scoreboard in the fourth, putting together three straight hits off Husker starter Justin Pekarek to take a 2-1 lead. Consecutive one-out hits by Josh Dent and Steve Murphy put runners on first and second before Chris Carlson ended the Huskers' shutout streak at 43.1 innings with a bases clearing double past third.  It was also KSU's first run in the last four games, as the Wildcats had been shutout for 30 consecutive innings before Carlson's two-run double.

The Huskers' streak, which covered 42 complete innings and dated back to last Sunday's win over Kansas, broke the Big 12 mark of 41 set by Texas two years ago.

Nebraska got the equalizer in the fifth, getting a two-out RBI single from Bruce to scoring Grose, who reached on a fielder's choice and advance into scoring position on a wild pitch. Bruce, who had struck out his first two at-bats, blooped an 0-2 pitch into shallow left center, knotting the score at two.

The Wildcats chased Pekarek in the fifth, getting consecutive two-out hits off the Husker starter, who went the first 4.2 innings. Terry Blunt singled and moved to second on a balk before coming home on Jason Long's RBI double off the wall in left center. The Huskers went to the bullpen, and after a walk to Dent, Jeremy Becker got Murphy to fly out to right to end the inning.

Pekarek, who had won his last three starts including six innings of no-hit ball against UW-Milwaukee on Tuesday, struck out five, but allowed three runs on six hits in 4.2 innings of work in a no-decision.

Nebraska finally struck in the seventh, scoring four times to take a 6-3 lead on RBI singles by Colin Shockey and Bruce and a two-run single by Ledbetter.  Grose drew a one-out walk before Keith second hit of the game put runners on the corners. Shockey then tied the score with a single to center that ended Ripley's day after 6.1 innings. Bruce then greeted B.J. Kissel with a single to left, scoring Keith with the go-ahead run. After Kissel intentionally walked Gordon, Matt Petersen came in to strike out Jake Mullinax, but Ledbetter extended the lead to three runs with a two-run single to right.

Ripley took the loss, pitching 6.1 innings and matching his career high with 10 strikeouts, but allowed five runs to drop to 3-2 on the season.

KSU (19-10, 2-4 Big 12) got closer off the Husker bullpen, getting an RBI double by Long in the seventh before John Heinrich's RBI single one inning later put the Wildcats within 6-5. The Wildcats, who have dropped four straight, would get no closer, as the Huskers put up three insurance runs in the ninth on a homer by Gordon, an RBI double by Ledbetter and a run-scoring single by Joe Simokaitis to take a 9-5 lead. Sillman then completed his third save of the year with a perfect ninth.

The Huskers return home tomorrow to begin a two-game series with New Mexico with the first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. The game will be carried on many of the Pinnacle Sports Network affiliates; including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln, and on the Internet at Huskers.com.



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