"It all starts on the mound," Nebraska Head Coach Mike Anderson said after Watson and closer Brett Jensen combined for six strikeouts without a walk. "Tony was great out there today and really set the tone for us early by throwing strikes. He settled down after the first and really pitched well."
Nebraska pounded out 10 hits against Wildcat starter and loser Adam Cowart, who dropped to 4-2 on the season. Cowart, who went eight innings, surrendered all five runs, as NU plated runs in five of the first six innings off of the KSU starter.
"That was out best offensive team effort of the year," Anderson said. "From executing squeezes to putting the ball in play to moving runners, everyone in our lineup responded."
KSU closed to within 5-4 in the eighth on a two-run homer off the bat of Cris Tapia off NU closer Brett Jensen, but the Husker closer retired the final four hitters he faced to secure his fifth save of the season in six chance. The run allowed was the first by Jensen since Feb. 17, a span of 10 appearances heading into Saturday.
Nebraska struck in the top of the first, using three hits and a pair of KSU errors to plate the first run of the day on Buckman's RBI single. With one out, consecutive singles by Jaros and Wehrle and a throwing error put runners on the corners before Buckman slapped a run-scoring single into right.
Kansas State got the run back in the bottom of the first, as Brandon Farr singled, moved to second on a balk and scored on Jared Goedert's double off the wall in center.
In the second, Bryce Nimmo's RBI double plated Jeff Christy for the eventual go-ahead run. Christy was hit by a pitch to open the inning before Jake Opitz sacrificed him into scoring position. Nimmo then lofted a single into shallow left center, but alertly took second as the base was left uncovered.
NU pushed the lead to 3-1 in the third on Luke Gorsett's sacrifice fly. Jaros opened the inning with his second hit of day and stole second to move into scoring position. Buckman then doubled to left to put runners on second and third with one out before Gorsett lofted a 1-1 pitch to deep right, allowing Jaros from third. The Huskers pushed across another run in the fourth, as Opitz tripled into the corner in right and scored moments later on Edlefsen's suicide squeeze to give NU a 4-1 cushion.
KSU cut into the Husker lead in the bottom of the fifth, getting a one-out RBI single by Eli Rumler to plate Barrett Rice. The Wildcats continued to threaten, as Brett Scott's single put runners on first and second before the Huskers got a break to get out of the frame. Tyler Link hit a ball that glanced off his leg, but rolled to third, where Edlefsen alertly stepped on third and threw across the diamond to complete an inning-ending double play.
The Huskers manufactured another run in the sixth, as Jeff Christy opened the frame with a double to center, moved to third on an Opitz ground out and scored as Edlefsen hit a bouncer over the mound for a groundout to second to his second RBI of the afternoon.
In the eighth, Watson struck out the leadoff hitter before Farr reached on a one-out single. Jensen stuck out Goedert for the second out, but Tapia turned on a 1-0 pitch and homered to right center, pulling KSU within a run. That would be KSU's final hit as Jensen slammed the door in the ninth.
The Huskers and Wildcats will conclude the three-game set Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Johnny Dorn (3-2, 4.20 ERA) will take on left-hander Chase Bayuk (5-1, 2.12 ERA) in Sunday's pitching matchup.