Kroenke, Huskers Shut Down Oklahoma

On a blustery night in Norman, Zach Kroenke kept Oklahoma's bats chilled with a complete-game five hitter, as No. 5 Nebraska evened its series with an 8-1 victory over Oklahoma Friday evening.

The junior left-hander was dominant in picking up his first win since April 2, taking a shutout into the ninth and allowing only one runner in scoring position the entire contest. Kroenke (5-2) struck out six and walked only one in a 110-pitch gem.

While Kroenke helped Nebraska (36-9, 11-6 Big 12) match its entire 2004 season total for wins and conference wins, the Husker bats broke out of a mini slump with 16 hits – its highest Big 12 total of the year and the most by NU since mid-March.

Brandon Buckman and Jeff Christy had two hits and two RBIs apiece, as Nebraska jumped to an 8-0 lead after three innings and cruised to the victory. Alex Gordon and Joe Simokaitis both enjoyed three-hit nights in the win.

Timely hitting was the story for the Huskers, as they scored seven of their eight runs with two outs, including a sixth-run third inning that was highlighted by seven straight two-out hits.

Nebraska strung together three straight two-out singles to plate its first run in the top of the first. Consecutive singles by Gordon and Curtis Ledbetter put runners on the corners before Buckman slapped an RBI single to left to give the Huskers a 1-0 lead.

The Huskers added to the lead in the second, as Jake Opitz doubled into the left field corner and scored on Christy's RBI single up the middle

In the third, Nebraska erupted for six runs – its highest single inning total in league play since last April – all with two outs to chase OU starter Steven Guerra after just 2.2 innings of work.

With two outs and Gordon, who doubled with one out, on second, Buckman made it 3-0 with an RBI single. Trey Adams gave the Huskers a 4-0 with an RBI single before Opitz chased the Sooner starter with another RBI single. Christy then greeted reliever Brad Burns with a run-scoring single to center to before Jesse Boyer singled to load the bases. Simokaitis made it 7-0 with the Huskers' seventh straight hit before Gordon plated the final run with a bases loaded walk.

Guerra (4-5) allowed seven runs on 10 hits in just 2.2 innings for the loss.

Staked with a sizable lead, Kroenke rolled through the Sooners, allowing four singles and retiring nine straight until he walked Aaron Ivey to open the ninth. After a fielder's choice, Russell Raley ended Kroenke's bid for the shutout with a RBI double to left center.

The Huskers and Sooners will conclude the series Saturday afternoon at 1p.m. The game will be carried nationally on ESPNU (Ch. 609 on DirecTV) and also carried on the Pinnacle Sports Network.

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