Fusilier, who missed all of the 2004 season because of shoulder surgery, was the catalyst for Nebraska's 10-hit attack, going 1-for-3 with a three-run homer while also scoring three times. His fourth-inning homer – his first since April of 2003, tied the game before the Huskers broke the game open with five runs one inning later.
"It feels good to be healthy and contribute to this team," Fusilier said. "The biggest thing was that it (the homer) sparked our team. The first three innings, the bats weren't going, and then they started to roll."
Head Coach Mike Anderson said he was proud of the way the Huskers settled down after a rocky start.
"We started slow tonight and it looked like we hadn't played a game yet in the first three innings," Anderson said. "The thing I was most proud of was that we got it going and played good baseball. We knew at some point we would get it going. We were pressing a little bit, but Brandon's homer really opened things up for us."
Timm kept the Huskers in the game early, as he allowed only one run, a fifth-inning RBI single by Michael Higa, before retiring 10 of the last 11 hitters he faced before exiting in the eighth.
"Dusty was great tonight," Anderson said "It is good to have such a deep bullpen and have veterans like Dusty who can go out there and throw strikes and keep us in games."
While Fusilier, who also drew three walks, provided the key offensive blow, he was one of several Huskers who enjoyed big evenings. Junior college transfer Brandon Buckman went 4-for-5 with an RBI in his Husker debut while Joe Simokaitis went 2-for-5 with a key two-run single and also scored twice.
The Huskers spotted Hawaii-Hilo a 3-0 lead, as the Vulcans scored once in the first and two more in the third off Nebraska starter Zach Kroenke, who didn't make it out of the third. In the first, David Chu's RBI groundout plated Sean Tamura, who opened the inning with a double to left and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt.
The Vulcans knocked Kroenke out of the game in the third, scoring twice to extend their lead to 3-0 off the Husker starter. With one out and a runner on second, Mark Veneri's RBI double off the wall in right pushed the margin to 2-0. Hawaii-Hilo eventually loaded the bases before Ryan Taiariol coaxed a walk off the Husker starter to give the hosts a three-run cushion. Timm then came into the game and got Gary Ahu Jr. to ground out to second to end the threat.
The Huskers, who had just one hit through the first three innings, erupted for three runs in the fourth, highlighted by Fusilier's first homer of the season. Simokaitis opened the inning with a single to center before Alex Gordon was walked on four pitches, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Fusilier then launched Vinnie Biggs' 1-0 pitch over the fence in left to knot the score.
Nebraska chased the Vulcan starter in the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of Hilo errors to bat around and score five runs in the frame. After a leadoff single by Jeff Christy, Ryan Wehrle's sacrifice bunt was misplayed, putting runners on first and second. Jesse Boyer then sacrificed both runners into scoring position before Simokaitis broke the tie with a two-run single through the drawn-in infield. After Simokaitis stole second and moved to third on a throwing error, Fusilier walked to put runners on the corners. Buckman then slapped a single to right to score Simokaitis before Curtis Ledbetter chased Biggs (0-4) with a two-run double to left center, giving the Huskers a five-run lead.
The Vulcans had four straight singles to open the fifth, as Higa's RBI single pulled Hilo within 8-4, but Timm averted any more damage by striking out Taiariol and inducing Ahu into an inning-ending double play.
The Huskers upped the margin to 9-4 in the eighth, as Jeff Christy drew a one-out walk and stole second before coming home on Daniel Bruce's RBI double to left center. NU tacked on three more runs in the ninth, highlighted by Andy Gerch's RBI single.
The series continues with a doubleheader Friday afternoon beginning at 7 p.m. (central), as Joba Chamberlain and Brian Duensing are the scheduled starters for Nebraska. HuskersInside subscribers will also have an opportunity to see an extended highlight package as well as interviews with coaches and Husker players.