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March 20, 2012

Huskers slug Northern Colorado 12-3

Nebraska vs. Northern Colorado Game 1 Box Score

With former Nebraska coach Mike Anderson watching from the stands, the Huskers used a seven-run fourth inning to easily dispatch Northern Colorado 12-3.

Anderson was in attendance to watch his son Taylor, a freshman infielder who was originally committed to the Huskers, but changed his mind after his father was fired. Although Taylor played well, doubling in a pinch-hit appearance and scoring a run, it was Mike's former team that had the upper hand.

Kash Kalkowski, playing for the first time since he aggravated a groin injury on March 13, knocked in the Huskers' first three runs with a two-out single in the first inning and a solo shot three frames later. He finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Kalkowski originally injured his groin in practice about a month ago and missed three games. The junior returned and played nine games before reinjuring himself last week against California.

"I was just trying to get hits, not doing anything special," Kalkowski said. "I'm just trying to help the team out."

The Huskers scored twice on Kalkowski's single in the first, then exploded for seven runs in the fourth. Kalkowski's solo home run to center field got the festivities started, as the Huskers sent 11 batters to the plate in the frame.

"Everyone says hitting is contagious and that's what we believe in," center fielder Rich Sanguinetti said. "One guy gets a hit, then the next guy gets a hit. Next thing you know, we've got six or seven hits in a row and there's a seven spot up. It's so easy to hit when the whole lineup is swinging."

The Huskers tagged on three runs in the eighth to provide more breathing room.

Freshman Kyle Kubat got the start for NU and, as planned, threw only three innings. Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said the team had intended to pitch multiple pitchers several innings, as will be the case Wednesday.

Sophomore Zach Hirsch will get the start, but is also slated to pitch this Sunday against Illinois. Erstad said his day will be short and relievers Luke Bublitz, Aaron Bummer, Travis Huber and Dylan Vogt will all appear in the game to stay fresh.

Their job will be much easier if the offense performs like it did Tuesday. With Kalkowski back, the Huskers have a bit of a jam at the first base and DH positions. Juniors Richard Stock and Josh Scheffert have been splitting time at first, Kalkowski's listed position, while several other Husker bats have performed well enough to fill the designated hitter role.

"It's funny how things work out," Erstad said. "As I do with everything, I just keep an open mind. Those guys are going to tell me who gets to play by how they perform and how they go about their business. Things happen. Things come up. Everybody's going to get to play."

Around the horn

***Tomorrow's game, originally scheduled for 1:30, has been moved to 12:05.

***Kalkowski's fourth-inning home run was his first since the season opener against Gonzaga.

***Freshman shortstop Pat Kelly is now 2-for-2 with five RBIs with the bases loaded this year after his fourth-inning double. He tripled and drove in three runs in his other opportunity against California on March 12.

***RD Spiehs, a former Husker pitcher on NU's first College World Series team in 2001, is now an assistant for Northern Colorado. A Grand Island native, Spiehs is married to the former Jennifer Benson. Benson was a First-Team All-American soccer player at Nebraska before playing for the United States National Team.

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