Huskers fall in Big 12 Tournament

Oklahoma City, Okla. – Carey Avent's two-run RBI single in the top of the ninth broke a 2-all deadlock, as Texas Tech upset top-seeded Nebraska, 5-3, late Thursday evening at the Bricktown Ballpark.

Avent's two-out, two-run single past a diving Joe Simokaitis at short provided the Red Raiders with late-game heroics, as Texas Tech (34-23) will meet Missouri, a 7-6 winner over Oklahoma in 10 innings, Thursday evening.

Nebraska (46-13), which entered the tournament as the top seed, will take on the Sooners at 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon in an elimination game. It marked the fourth time in seven years that the tournament's No. 8 seed upset the No. 1 seed in the opening round.

The Huskers trailed 2-0 after seven innings against Texas Tech starter Billy Carnline, but rallied in the eighth, using a pair of pinch hits to knot the game. With one out, pinch hitter Ryan Bohanan doubled to right before Brandon Buckman was hit by a pitch to give NU two on with one out. Ryan Wehrle then tied the game, sending a 2-2 pitch – Carnline's 147th of the evening – into the corner in right, scoring both runners.

The deadlock would be short-lived, as Tech used a two-out rally off of NU closer Brett Jensen, scoring three times to take a 5-2 advantage. Cody Fuller drew a two-out walk before Cooper Fouts' single put runners on first and second. NU then intentionally walked Cameron Blair to load the bases. Avents then slapped a 1-1 pitch into left, scoring two runners, while a Husker error on the play allowed Blair to score from first.

Nebraska tried to overcome the deficit in the bottom of the ninth, as Simokaitis, who finished the day with two hits, delivered a one-out single. Alex Gordon's double to right center put runners on second and third with one out. Curtis Ledbetter then hit into a fielder's choice, before Bryce Nimmo was hit by an Adam Lawford pitch to load the bases. Brandon Buckman's sharply hit grounder was misplayed for an error to plate one run, but NU could not plate the tying run, as Wehrle grounded into a game-ending fielder's choice.

Lawford (4-6) earned the victory for Texas Tech, pitching 1.2 innings without surrendering an earned run. Starter Billy Carnline scattered eight hits over 7.1 innings, striking out a career-high eight Huskers, but did not factor into the decision.

Jensen (2-4) took the loss for the Huskers, surrendering the decisive runs to the Red Raiders in the ninth inning. It was the sixth time this season that Nebraska lost on an opponent's last at bat, and the first time since the 2000 Big 12 Tourney that NU lost in the opening round.

The Red Raiders jumped on Husker starter Brian Duensing in the top of the first, getting a two-run double from Brian Capps to take a 2-0 lead. With one out, Avents, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, reached on a bunt single before Brent Thomas' double put runners on second and third. Capps then doubled into the gap in right center to give the Red Raiders an early advantage.

Nebraska, which stranded 13 runners and went 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position, had ample opportunities over the first seven frames, leaving the bases loaded in the second and loading the bases with one out in the seventh before Gordon hit into an inning-ending double play – his first in 206 at bats this season.

While the Husker bats struggled offensively, Duensing gave the Huskers a fighting chance, holding the Red Raiders off the board over his final seven innings. He allowed two runs on 10 hits while striking out three in his longest outing since March of 2003, but did not factor into the decision, as NU tied the score on Wehrle's first career triple in the eighth.

-- Huskers --


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