Huskers Win Home Opener

Ryan Wehrle's fifth-inning RBI double sparked a four-run outburst, while Drew Bowman and two relievers held Wayne State to one run, as the No. 16 Husker baseball team won its home opener, 6-1, Tuesday afternoon

Tuesday's crowd of 4,564 – the second-largest opening day crowd in school history – saw the Huskers get off to a slow start before righting the ship with four runs in the fifth to take the lead for good.

"I'm extremely happy with the turnout," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said of the mid-afternoon crowd that took advantage of sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s. "It was an incredible crowd today."

After a double and an error put runners on the corners with no outs, freshman DJ Belfonte got the Huskers on the board bunt single, scoring Mitch Abeita, who opened the inning with a double to right. Two batters later, Wehrle snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a smash down the line in left for an RBI double, giving NU a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. After a groundout by Andrew Brown plated a run, Jake Opitz ended the rally with an RBI single to center, scoring Wehrle with NU's fourth run of the frame.

Opitz' hit chased Wayne State starter Travis Mortimore, who had allowed just one hit over the first four frames before running into trouble in the fifth. Mortimore fell to 0-2 on the year, allowing four runs – two earned – on five his over 4.2 innings of work.

Belfonte led NU's offensive attack with his first career three-hit day, while Craig Corriston added two hits in helping Nebraska win its third straight game and 29th consecutive home opener.

The runs was more than enough for the Husker pitching staff, as Bowman went five-plus innings before handing the ball to the Husker bullpen. Bowman, making his first career appearance at Hawks Field, scattered six hits and fanned four to improve to 2-0 on the year, while Mike Harmelink and Erik Bird combined for four scoreless innings of relief.

"Drew Bowman did a great job after he settled down," Anderson said. "One of the things that he gets to doing when he struggles is that he starts racing a bit. Once he settled in, he pitched really well and both Harmelink and Bird pitched very well in relief."

Jordan Delgan put the visitors a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, as his two-out RBI single plated Marc Manganaro, but the Wildcats managed just two singles over the final five innings and didn't have another runner reach third. Harmelink fanned three in three innings of one-hit relief, while Bird capped the afternoon with a perfect ninth.

By then, the Huskers had extended their lead to 6-1 with two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, including an RBI single by Corriston, while scoring their final run on a wild pitch.

The Huskers return to action on Thursday evening, as they open Big 12 Conference action at Texas Tech and the game will be carried across the state on the Husker Sports Network. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

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