Huskers Scorch Devils for First CWS Win

The No. 3 national seed Nebraska Cornhuskers came up with several key hits and received another solid pitching performance while running their winning streak to a season-high 11 games by defeating Arizona State, 5-3, in front of a College World Series Session 2 record crowd of 24,904 Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium.

With the victory, Nebraska improved to 57-13 on the year while picking up its first-ever victory in three trips to the CWS. The Huskers will try to add a second straight CWS win on Sunday when they face No. 7 national seed Florida in a winner's bracket game at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The Gators advanced with a 6-4 victory over SEC rival Tennessee in Friday's first game.

Nebraska opened the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Joe Simokaitis extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a one-out single and advanced on an Alex Gordon walk. Simokaitis, who was the only Husker to produce two hits on the night, scored Nebraska's first run of the CWS on Curtis Ledbetter's single up the middle, and Gordon came across when ASU right fielder Travis Buck dropped a fly ball off the bat of Ryan Bohanan that would have been the third out.

The Sun Devils scratched out a run in the top of the next frame to cut the Husker advantage to 2-1. Seth Dhaenes singled with two outs and came around on Joey Hooft's double before Nebraska starter Joba Chamberlain got out of the jam.

Chamberlain, who was making his NU single-season record tying 18th start of the year, went on to retire 10 straight ASU batters over the next three innings before running into trouble in the top of the sixth. Chamberlain gave up a leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Andrew Romine before Jeff Larish singled to center. After a sacrifice advanced the runners, the Huskers issued an intentional walk to Colin Curtis to load the bases with one out.

Tuffy Gosewisch, the Sun Devils' RBI leader, then doubled to the gap in right center to drive in a pair of runs. Gosewisch would have had three RBIs but second baseman Ryan Wehrle made a perfect relay from right fielder Andy Gerch to catcher Jeff Christy, who tagged out Curtis at the plate for the second out of the inning.

Nebraska answered in the bottom of the sixth by scoring three runs to take a 5-3 lead. NU loaded the bases with a single, walk and hit by pitch to chase Sun Devil reliever Zechry Zinicola, who fell to 3-4 with the loss.

Ryan Wehrle then greeted reliever Brett Bordes with a sharp single up the middle for the game-winning runs. Christy followed with an RBI single down the right field line to give NU a two-run cushion.

The clutch hitting of Wehrle and Christy made a winner out of Chamberlain, who improved to 10-2 on the season by pitching 7.0 strong innings, scattering five hits and three runs while striking out four. Chamberlain threw 104 pitches on his way to becoming NU's second 10-game winner of the season, joining freshman Johnny Dorn (12-1) with double-figure wins. Chamberlain and Dorn became the first Husker duo in history to win 10 or more games in the same season.

Chamberlain was not the only Husker pitcher to make it into the record books, as closer Brett Jensen came on with two outs in the eighth and shut down the Sun Devils for his 16th save of the season. Jensen, who already owned the Huskers' single-season saves mark, moved into sole possession of the NU career mark with his 18th save over the past three seasons.

Jensen has notched four consecutive saves in NU's last four NCAA Tournament wins, hurling 5.1 consecutive scoreless innings. He has struck out five, walked none and allowed just one hit during that stretch.

Nebraska Game Notes: **-- Nebraska began its third College World Series appearance in school history Friday when it defeated Arizona State, 5-3. The Huskers, who own a school-record 57 victories, picked up their first-ever win in the CWS after dropping their first four games during CWS bids in 2001 and 2002.

**-- Nebraska tied its season high with its 11th straight victory and 16th in the past 17 games. NU's last loss came in its opening game of the Big 12 Tournament on May 25 when they dropped a 5-3 loss to Texas Tech. The Huskers also held an 11-game winning streak from March 11 to March 23.

**-- Shortstop Joe Simokaitis stroked a one-out single up the middle in the first inning and extended his current hitting streak to a team-best 13 games. Simokaitis has had at least one hit in all six of Nebraska's postseason games, including at least two hits in four straight games starting in the regional championship game. Simokaitis was 2 for 3 against Arizona State with one run scored.

**-- Simokaitis improved to 4 for 9 while playing at Rosenblatt Stadium this season and is now 10 for 25 (.400) in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. He also added his 18th stolen base in 23 attempts this season in the seventh inning.

**-- Catcher Jeff Christy threw out Jeff Larish attempting to steal second in the first inning. Christy has been nearly perfect behind the plate in the postseason, as he has thrown out 7-of-9 would-be base stealers through six NCAA Tournament games.

**-- Christy recorded an RBI single in the Huskers' three-run sixth inning, marking his third RBI in the month of June, including his first career home run in NU's first game of the NCAA Tournament. Christy, whose mother's name coincidentally is June, is hitting .333 (7 for 21) in the month. Christy hit .217 (35 for 161) before the month of June.

**-- Husker starter Joba Chamberlain went 7.0 innings allowing just three runs on five hits while striking out four and walking three. Chamberlain tied the school record by making his 18th start of the season, equalling the mark orginally set by All-American Shane Komine during the Huskers' first run to the College World Series in 2001.

**-- Chamberlain won his 10th game of the season and now is 10-2 this year. He joined teammate Johnny Dorn as 10-game winners, the first time in Nebraska history the Huskers have had a pair of pitchers win 10 games in the same season.

**-- Daniel Bruce was hit by a pitch to load the bases in the sixth inning, the 66th time he has been plunked in his career. Bruce ranks fifth in NCAA history for being hit by a pitch, although it was the first time he has been hit in 21 games, and only the second time in the past 37 games since April 3.

**-- The Huskers pushed across two runs in the first inning and have now outscored their opponents 57-18 in the first frame this season.

Friday, June 17, 2005
Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Neb.
Game Two
Arizona State Sun Devils (39-24) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (57-13)

Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson
(opening statement)
"I'm proud for our kids. There was a lot of hype and a lot of expectations about this game and a lot of things going on. I'm happy we got through the third inning and focused in on the game."

(on getting the school's first-ever CWS win)
"For us the win is important because it's the 2005 world series. It got us a chance to advance."

(on his team's approach to the game)
"I don't know if I can describe it. The mood, the conversation on the bus over here ... I was very pleased. I don't want to keep too loose but everything just felt great. Being nervous is okay but you want to settle into the game. I was pleased with our approach for a big-game atmosphere."

Second baseman Ryan Wehrle
(on hit big hit in the sixth)
"I was put in a good situation at the plate. I looked for a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it."

Pitcher Joba Chamberlain
(on the win)
"It's not any different than any other win. It's a bigger stage but you still have to go out and make your pitches like you've been doing all year."

(on his performance after walking the first batter)
"After that I settled down and everything was grooving from there."

Arizona State Head Coach Pat Murphy
(opening statement) "In a weird way I'm happy for Nebraska to get its first win here. The fans were unbelievable. The next time we're in this type of environment – it'll probably be in three or four days. After that it will probably be if they have the opportunity to go to the major leagues – maybe in a playoff environment. The baseball game wasn't real special. I wasn't impressed by us. We gave them opportunities. We walked six and hit two. Might have walked seven. Eight of the nine led to runs. We didn't do things offensively that we needed to do to win.

(about pulling starting pitcher Jason Urquidez after two innings): "I talked it over with the pitching coach. Sometimes you have to make a move. I saw he was in trouble and I didn't think it was the kind of trouble he was going to be able to pitch out of. His trouble was he was behind in the count over and over. He didn't have breaking stuff. It isn't the time of year that that can happen."

(on pulling Zechry Zinicola after five innings): "I know Zin is really capable. I knew we were either going to use him 100 pitches in the fifth or 110 pitches in the 6th – and then I was going to zap him. I didn't want to risk it. I know Zech is capable of being very special."

Catcher Tuffy Gosewisch
(on being behind) "We've been here before. We were here last weekend. It's something this team can handle. It's hard to come back. I think you have to take one game at a time. I think it's easier to do that than to look at the entire tournament."

(on whether Jason Urquidez was laboring): "I don't think he was laboring. He didn't have his command. His control in and out he didn't have. We made the decision to go to Zech."

Designated Hitter/Pitcher Zechry Zinicola
(on going into the game after two innings tonight): "Coach asked if I was ready. I thought I was mentally and physically prepared to go into the game."

Third baseman Joey Hooft
(on the environment): "I played Texas in an opening game before, but this is the loudest game I've ever played in. They like to see baseball. They're not vulgar fans. It's not a negative for me."

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