Huskers Fall to Oklahoma State, 5-4

Third-ranked Nebraska built a three-run lead, but couldn't deliver the knockout blow, a mistake which proved costly, as Oklahoma State rallied for a 5-4 victory at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium Saturday afternoon.

The Huskers (36-7, 15-4 Big 12) raced out to a 4-1 lead, scoring three runs in the second and adding another in the fourth, but OSU starter Matt Gardner regrouped and held NU scoreless over the final five innings en route to his first complete game of the season.

NU Head Coach Mike Anderson said that NU failure to extend the lead beyond the early 3-1 advantage allowed the Cowboys an opportunity to forge a comeback.

"That game changes if we punch some more runs across early," Anderson said. "We had the momentum, and then they got the momentum late and held on to it."

Gardner (4-3) scattered eight hits and struck out four without a walk in a 124-pitch performance, as Oklahoma State (32-13, 11-8 Big 12) extended its win streak to 10 straight games.

 "He did a good job out there and kept us off-balance," Anderson said. "From the fourth inning on, we didn't have a great offensive approach and hit a lot of fly balls and didn't stay on top of pitches, just like we did against Texas (in NU's last loss on April 21)."

Andy Gerch and Jake Opitz combined for half of NU's eight hits in the losing effort. Gerch went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and scored twice, while Opitz also had two hits, including an RBI single, as the Huskers saw their six-game win streak snapped.

OSU completed the rally in the eighth, as Shelby Ford scored Adam Carr with a RBI single to center. With one out and NU reliever Erik Bird on the mound, Carr hit a ball off the wall in center, while NU center fielder Bryce Nimmo stumbled as the ball caromed back, allowing Carr to reach third. Zach Herr came in to face the switch-hitting Ford, but could not slam the door, as Ford singled through NU's drawn-in infield, just beyond the reach of a diving Opitz at second to score the winning run.

Bird, who had not allowed an earned run in his first 17 appearances, suffered the loss as he dropped to 0-1, as he allowed OSU's go-ahead run.

Oklahoma State put up the first run of the day on Tyler Mach's RBI single. Corey Brown singled to open the game before Keanon Simon's sacrifice moved him into scoring position. Mach then slapped a 1-1 pitch into center to score the runner to give OSU a 1-0 lead.

The Huskers came back with three runs in the top of the second, using two hits and a pair of sacrifices to take the lead. After Luke Gorsett was hit by a pitch to open the inning, Gerch tied the game with a double to center before Opitz put runners on the corners with a single. Jeff Christy plated NU's second run with a safety squeeze before a balk moved Opitz to third. Mort then executed a textbook suicide squeeze to score Opitz.

The Huskers extended their lead to 4-1 in the top of the fourth on Opitz's RBI single. Gerch continued his hot hitting with a one-out double to right center, his second double of the day, before Opitz blooped a single to right, pushing the Husker lead to three runs.

The Cowboys came back in the bottom of the inning, as Deik Scram opened the inning with a walk before Ty Wright's bunt single put runners on first and second. Carr moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt before a fielder's choice off the bat of Jordy Mercer plated Scram.

OSU clawed back into game against NU starter Joba Chamberlain in the seventh, scoring twice to forge a tie game.  Matt Clarkson tripled to open the inning before Simon hit a ball just inside the line at first for an RBI double. After a groundout moved Simon to third, Chamberlain went 0-2 on Scram, but could not escape unscathed, uncorking a wild pitch to plate Simon with the tying run.

Chamberlain allowed four runs on eight hits over seven innings, as he did not factor into the decision. The Husker right-hander fanned seven, but scattered eights hits before leaving after the seventh.

The Huskers continue the series with the Cowboys Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The game will be carried on the Pinnacle Sports Network, on Huskers.com and on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Ch. 147).

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