Trailing 2-1, the Huskers took the lead for good by scoring four runs on five hits in the seventh. With one out, Bryce Nimmo doubled off the wall in right and moved to third on a single by Joe Simokaitis, putting runners on the corners for Gordon. A passed ball scored Nimmo and moved Simokaitis into scoring position before Gordon sent a 2-2 pitch into right center to score Simokaitis and chase Hawaii-Hilo starter John Pinasco. The Huskers continued the rally off reliever Kyler Wartman, as Ledbetter plated Gordon two batters later with an RBI single before scoring on Daniel Bruce's double to left, as NU took a 5-2 lead.
In addition to Gordon, Simokaitis went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, while Nimmo went 2-for-3, as Nebraska (4-0) will look for the series sweep Sunday afternoon.
The lead was more than enough for the Husker pitchers, as the Husker staff limited the Vulcans (1-16) to just six hits. Redshirt freshman Tony Watson (1-0) earned his first collegiate win with 3.1 innings of solid relief, allowing one run on two hits, while Brett Jensen pitched a perfect ninth for his first save.
According to Anderson, Watson's performance highlighted another outstanding effort by the Husker pitching staff, which has compiled a 1.59 ERA during its first four games in Hawaii. Watson missed all of the 2004 season after shoulder surgery.
"We were thrilled that Tony got the win after all of the struggles he has had over the last year with his injury and his mother's illness, and for his mom to be here in person to witness his first win was great to see," Anderson said. "Johnny (Dorn) did a good job on the mound, but we didn't give him much support defensively and Jensen was outstanding again out of the bullpen."
Pinasco, who had helped NU to one unearned run through the first six frames, pitched well in defeat, allowing four runs on eight hits to fall to 0-2 on the year.
In the top of the first, the Huskers capitalized on a Hawaii-Hilo error to take an early 1-0 lead. With one out, Simokaitis reached on a fielding error before back-to-back singles by Gordon and Brandon Fusilier loaded the bases. Ledbetter then drove in Simokaitis with a fielder's choice, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The lead would not last long, as the Vulcans took advantage of pair of Husker errors to plate their first run in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Chris Campbell singled and stole second before advancing to third on a throwing error by Husker catcher Jeff Christy. The miscue would be costly, as Johnny Dudoit's grounder plated Campbell with Hilo's first run.
The pitchers duel between Nebraska's Johnny Dorn and Pinasco would remain deadlocked until the fifth, when the Vulcans took advantage of a Nebraska's third error of the afternoon to manufacture their second run. Jimmy Crider opened the inning by reaching on Gordon's fielding error and was moved into scoring position on Ryan Taiaroil's sacrifice bunt before Gary Ahu RBI single into left gave Hilo a 2-1 lead.
Dorn was impressive in his first career start, as he did not allow an earned run in 4.2 innings of work. The right-hander struck out four and allowed four hits, all singles before Watson came in with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and held Hilo scoreless until the eighth.
The series will conclude Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. (central), as the game has been moved up one hour because of the
Huskers' travel schedule. Senior right-hander Phil Shirek takes the hill for Nebraska.