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April 2, 2013

Nebraska falls flat in 9-1 loss at Kansas State

Ever since Darin Erstad made some adjustments to his lineup a few weeks ago, the Nebraska offense had started to look like its 2012 self, routinely pounding opposing pitching. That was never more true than this past weekend against Northwestern, in which the Huskers pounded out 52 hits in the three-game sweep.

Maybe they should have saved a few of those for Tuesday night.

The offense fell flat against Kansas State in Manhattan, falling 9-1. The Huskers had just five hits and only one extra-base knock. Its lone run came after an error by the Wildcat third baseman.

"That's all on me," Darin Erstad said on his postgame radio appearance. "I didn't have my team ready to play tonight. We had one day in the fall where I said we didn't show up and this is our one day in the spring where I didn't feel our effort and attitude was there. It's on me. I'll have them ready for this weekend."

The pitching struggles were somewhat predictable, as NU hasn't found an effective midweek solution yet (the Huskers have now given up 37 runs in their past four midweek games). But seeing the offense dry up, especially after such a strong weekend, was somewhat mystifying.

Erstad didn't seem concerned with NU's issues at the plate, chalking the poor play to it being just one of those rough nights.

"Here's the deal - in baseball, there is a round ball and a round bat," Erstad said. "That's why teams aren't built on hitting. It's hard to do. It's something that's going to come and go. That's why you have to play good defense and you have to throw strikes down in the zone. You're not going to hit every night. Show me a team that has done that. That's not the way it works. It wasn't like we were taking awful swings."

Things got off to a rough start when Tyler King gave up a run on a pair of hits and a walk in the first. After keeping the Wildcats scoreless in the second, King gave up two more runs on three hits in the third and only got out of the inning because of a diving catch by Rich Sanguinetti in center field.

After Kansas State plated another run in the fourth, NU got on the board in the fifth when Kash Kalkowski reached on an error the KSU third baseman and came in to score two batters later.

But that would end Nebraska's scoring on the night, and the Wildcats pulled away in the late innings as Erstad gave several of his younger arms some experience.

Despite the lackluster outing, Erstad sounded like he wasn't completely disappointed in King's start. Though the lefty certainly struggled, Erstad thought many of his pitches were strong. The junior just needs to find more consistency to become a true weapon.

"I think Tyler's throwing the ball really well, but he continues to shoot himself in the foot by adding base runners," Erstad said. "You just can't do that. The way the ball is coming out of his hand, it works. But being able to sustain it for innings at a time has been an issue. We'll continue to give him the ball. We don't have much of a choice."

The Huskers are in action next this weekend with a three-game set at Iowa, starting Friday at 6:05.

Around the horn

***Tanner Lubach left the game after being hit in the throat by a wild pitch.

***Chad Christensen's 15-game hitting streak came to an end.

***No Husker had more than one hit.

***Logan Thune made his career debut in the eighth inning. The freshman gave up three hits and a run in his inning of work.

***Ty Kildow is still searching for his first hit of the year. His pop out in the ninth left him at 0 for 10 on the season.

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