Huskers Shut Out Horns, Take Big 12 Lead

Simple fact of the matter is that, right now, No. 3 Nebraska is a better ballclub than No. 5 Texas. Entering the weekend series, the Huskers were the better hitting team, the better fielding team and have a couple of all-conference pitchers on their staff. The visitors put it all together with a 6-0 shutout Sunday at Disch-Falk Field to take two-of-three from the Longhorns.

The Huskers now own a percentage points lead over the Horns in Big 12 standings with a 12-3 league mark (and 32-6 overall record). The Horns fell to 13-4 in Big 12 play (and 28-15 overall). Texas had not dropped a three-game home series since Stanford took two in Austin in February, 2003. The Horns were blanked for the first time since dropping a 6-0 decision at San Diego on February 4.

"They dominated on both sides, both offensively and defensively," Texas coach Augie Garrido said. "They really showed why they're the third-ranked team in the country."

The big blow was a four-run inning in the top of the fifth, primarily the result of Jake Mort's three-RBI double down the third base line.

"That really separated the game," Garrido added. "On the other side of it, their pitcher really dominated the game by hitting the bottom part of the strike zone. When we did hit the ball hard, they made some great plays."

"Their pitcher" was preseason All-American Johnny Dorn, who retired 15 of the first 16 Horns he faced and improved his season record to 7-2. The right-hander threw seven innings of shutout ball on five hits while walking two and fanning five. RHP Adrian Alaniz, now 5-2, was saddled with loss after surrendering six runs on eight hits and recording no strikeouts in 5-1/3 innings.

Alaniz yielded consecutive leadoff singles in the top of the first, both on 0-2 breaking balls, to put runners on the corners with no outs. He forced a Ryan Wehrle pop-up before Brandon Buckman tallied a run-scoring groundout to second. 2B Bradley Suttle's diving stop saved another run, but Luke Gorsett's sharply hit grounder, again, put Huskers on the corners. The Horns emerged relatively unscathed, trailing 1-0, when Nick Jaros flew out to right.

In the second, and for the second straight inning, the Huskers put runners on the corners with no outs. Leadoff hitter Andrew Brown reached second following his single to right and a fielding error on Nick Peoples (a team-leading 14th miscue this season). A Jake Opitz bunt put runners on the corners when Alaniz' throw to third was not in time to retire to leadoff runner. Jake Mort's sacrifice fly to left plated Nebraska's second run of the afternoon. The Horns got a key second out when C Preston Clark gunned down Opitz trying to steal second before Bryce Nimmo grounded out to end the inning.

The Huskers, again, put the leadoff batter on in the third when Jeff Christy launched a 3-2 pitch into left. Wehrle popped-up on a bunt attempt but a chance for an inning-ending double play put runners on first and second with Alaniz's throwing error. Luke Gorsett flied to right, moving Christy to third. Alaniz walked the bases loaded, bringing the cleanup hitter to the plate. DH Andrew Brown launched a 2-2 pitch deep, deep into right-center field but the result was a vintage CF Drew Stubbs defensive play. His lunging grab at the warning track ensured a scoreless Nebraska third. Preston Clark's one-out single in the bottom of the inning was Texas' first base hit of the game but that was all the offense the Horns could muster against Dorn's slider and changeup.

After his breaking ball could not find the zone for the first three innings, Alaniz appeared to settle-in. Nebraska went in order during the fourth and fifth. Unfortunately, so did Texas. And then the Huskers got the separation they needed during their next at-bat.

Luke Gorsett drove a high breaking ball into left field for a leadoff single in the top of the sixth. The Horns expected bunt but Nick Jaros sent a chopper into right field. Brown's sacrifice bunt moved both runners down and Texas intentionally walked Opitz to try to set up the double play. Instead, Jake Mort's three-run double down the third base line reached the wall and cleared the bases. The Huskers weren't done. RHP Randy Boone took the mound and immediately surrendered an RBI single to Nimmo. A double-play ball got Texas out of the inning but now trailing, 6-0.

In the bottom of the sixth, Preston Clark dropped a bloop single into shallow right but was thrown out trying to squeeze an extra bag out of what was just the second hit of the ball game for UT. It cost his team a run because Stubbs followed with a standup double into right-center field. Peoples walked and, for the first time all day, the Horns had two runners aboard. The double-steal put both runners in scoring position but Carson Kainer's groundout ended Texas' first offensive threat of the afternoon.

LHP Joseph Krebs entered the game with runners on the corners after Boone gave up a hit and walk in the top of the eighth. The junior walked the bases loaded but forced a groundout to second to retire the Huskers. Clark hammered a leadoff single in the Horns' half of the inning and moved to second on a passed ball. Dorn's day was done when he issued his second walk of the game as Clay Van Hook drew the base on balls. RHP Erik Bird came in to face Stubbs and, after falling behind 3-1 in the count, fanned Stubbs on an inside sinker to record the first out. LHP Jach Herr made his second appearance in as many days and picked-off Van Hook at first. When PH Brett Lewis grounded out to end the threat, most of the 6,131 paid attendance headed for the parking lot.

"Nebraska just had everything working for them today," Garrido concluded.

If it's any consolation, the Huskers still have the strength of their schedule ahead of them with a series at fifth-place Baylor before finishing the regular season with a homestand against third-place Oklahoma. Texas now faces UT-Pan American at 6:15 p.m., Tuesday before a weekend series against cellar-dwelling Texas A&M (20-23, 4-14). Friday's game is set for 6:15 p.m. at the Disch before the series shifts to College Station.


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