Huskers Fall to Bears, 4-1

Waco, Texas – Andrew Brown matched his career high with three hits, but it was not enough, as Baylor received a strong performance from Cory VanAllen to top fifth-ranked Nebraska, 4-1 in front of a crowd of 3,457 at the Baylor Ballpark on Saturday.

Brown, who had two homers in Friday's game, went 3-for-4 to account for the majority of NU's offense attack, as the Huskers dipped to 37-11 and 16-7 in the league with its third straight loss. Brown was the only player on either team with more than one hit.

VanAllen overcame early wildness to go seven innings and earn the victory, allowing one run on four hits to improve to 6-4 on the season, outdueing Nebraska left-hander Tony Watson, who suffered his first loss of the year.

Watson went 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits, as he dropped to 7-1 on the season. The setback also snapped Watson's personal 12-game winning streak dating back to March of 2005 and was his first loss in 18 career starts.

The Bears (32-19, 12-11 Big 12) managed just five hits off Watson, but three went for extra-bases, including homers by Mike Pankratz and Chase Gerdes with Pankratz's second-inning homer giving the Bears the lead for good at 2-1. Gerdes added a solo homer in the seventh after NU left the bases loaded in the top of the frame.

The Huskers manufactured a run in the top of the first, taking advantage of a pair of hit batters by VanAllen to plate a run on Luke Gorsett's sacrifice fly. Bryce Nimmo and Ryan Wehrle were hit by pitches to open the game and put runners on first and second. Brandon Buckman's slow roller to short moved both runners into scoring position before Gorsett flew out to right, easily scoring Nimmo from third.

That would the only  run of the night for the Huskers, as they left 10 runners on base, including eight in scoring position.

The Bears got on the board in the bottom of the second, as Seth Fortenberry opened the inning on a bunt single and came home on Pankratz's third homer of the season, a two-run shot to right center, one pitch later to give BU a 2-1 lead.

Watson settled down after the homer, retiring nine straight before Baylor struck in the fifth on Kevin Russo's RBI triple. Ben Booker opened the inning with walk before Russo sent Watson's next pitch into the gap in right center, scooting past the outstretched arm of Nimmo all the way to the wall in right center to push the lead to 3-1.

Watson then buckled down, striking out Gerdes and making a sensational diving grab of Beamer Weems' suicide squeeze to trigger an inning-ending double play.

The Huskers put together a rally in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs on an infield single by Steve Edlefsen and consecutive walks to Nimmo and Wehrle to get Buckman up with the bases loaded. After quickly falling behind 0-2, Buckman fought back to work the count full, but VanAllen induced a fly ball to left to end the NU seventh.

Baylor extended its lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh on Gerdes' solo homer to right, a one-out shot that was the Bears' first hit since Russo's fifth-inning triple and his second of the year.

NU continued to threaten in the eighth off reliever Tim Matthews, but could not draw closer, as he pitched the final two innings for his first save. Consecutive one-out singles by Andy Gerch and Brown put runners on first and second before Christy's grounder moved both runners into scoring position for Jake Opitz, who drove in three runs in Friday's contest. Opitz hit a hard liner to left center to end the threat, while NU went down in order in the ninth.

The two teams will conclude the three-game set Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., as Johnny Dorn (9-2, 3.27 ERA) will take on Jeff Mandel (1-2, 4.60 ERA). The game will be carried across the state on the Pinnacle Sports Network, on the Internet on Huskers.com and on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (Ch. 147)

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