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March 17, 2012

Early blasts propel Huskers to 11-4 victory

The Nebraska offense seems to have found a special groove right now, as it has scored eight or more runs in five of its past six games.

So how does coach Darin Erstad go about setting a lineup that continues to bludgeon opposing pitchers?

"I usually just flip a coin and throw some names in there," the coach deadpanned.

Judging by the way the Huskers swung the bats Saturday, they probably would have been fine even if Erstad had used that strategy.

The Huskers ripped 17 hits, including a career-high five from Josh Scheffert, in their 11-4 win over Louisiana Tech to improve to 14-6. Five Nebraska players had multiple hits.

"There are times when you're going to hit and times when you're not going to hit, and this is one of those times that we're hitting," Erstad said. "It can be contagious in both directions. Top to bottom, we're having very good approaches at the plate right now."

No one has a better approach at the moment than Scheffert, whose career day added to his torrid stretch. Since March 9, Scheffert is 15-for-30 with three home runs.

"(The ball) looks pretty big right now," the junior said. "Sometimes these things just come. Hopefully they stay a little longer."

Junior Tom Lemke got off to a rough start when he surrendered a home run to the first hitter he faced, Taylor Terrasas. But junior shortstop Chad Christensen was there to back him up with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning.

Scheffert hit a solo shot in the second, giving NU a lead it wouldn't surrender.

The closest the Bulldogs came was in the sixth inning. Nebraska led 4-1, but sophomore reliever Brandon Pierce got himself into trouble and loaded the bases with one out. Erstad called on junior Dylan Vogt, who minimized the damage by giving up just one run and preserving the NU lead.

"I live for stuff like that," Vogt said. "It gets me going. But I would trust anybody on the pitching staff to come in like I did today and I'm sure the coaches would to."

Vogt pitched the next two innings as well, sending down all six hitters he faced.

Just in case, the Huskers added five runs in the eighth, including three on a home run by junior third baseman Kurt Farmer, his second of the year.

"Everybody's seeing it and getting hits," Scheffert said. "Everybody is confident up there."

The Huskers will try to sweep the four-game series tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Around the horn

***The victory was Nebraska's fifth in a row, its longest winning streak of the season.

***Michael Pritchard continues to kill right-handed pitching. The sophomore entered the game with a .447 batting average against righties and went 2-for-2 with a walk against them Saturday.

***Christensen picked up another multi-hit game Saturday, his team-leading 12th of the year. His first-inning home run was his sixth of the year, tying his career high.

***Christensen got his 16th two-out RBI with the first-inning homer, tying Cody Asche's team-leading mark from last season.

***Scheffert has had two or more hits in four of his past five games. He's also hit all three of his home runs during that span.

***Austin Darby's fourth-inning single pushed his hitting streak to six games, the longest current Husker streak.




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