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February 23, 2014

NU destroys Washington in late-night showdown

Nebraska vs. Washington box score

In a game that started more than three hours after it was originally scheduled to begin, the Huskers took out their frustration from all that waiting on an unsuspecting Washington squad.

The two teams were originally scheduled to play at 8 p.m. CT, but the first two contests of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge Saturday ran late and pushed the game back to 11:15. But Nebraska was more than ready to play, scoring 11 times in the first two innings en route to a 13-3 blowout.

The win improved the Huskers 4-2 on the season and 2-0 in the series (NU beat Oregon State 9-1 Friday). The Huskers will go for a weekend sweep against Utah Sunday at 1 p.m. in Goodyear, Ariz.

"I wish I could tell them that we can control everything and go out there and know exactly when our game is going to start, but that's just not the case," Darin Erstad said on his postgame radio appearance. "You've got to be ready to go. That's baseball, and our guys did a fantastic job of keeping it together and when the bell rang, they were ready to roll."

After right fielder Austin Darby struck out to start the game, the next six Huskers reached base, including five with hits. First baseman Austin Christensen and center fielder Ryan Boldt each drove in a pair of runs with a double and a single, respectively, helping Nebraska jump out to an early lead.

Somehow, the offense was even more explosive in the second inning. The Huskers scored six times on four hits, including an RBI double by third baseman Blake Headley and a two-run single by catcher Tanner Lubach. Washington starter Zach Wright lasted just 1.1 innings, surrendering eight earned runs on seven hits. Ten of the 14 batters Wright faced reached base.

The Huskers would take advantage of a pair of errors by UW third baseman Alex Schmidt to score two more in the fifth.

That was more than enough for NU starter Aaron Bummer, though the lefty wasn't particularly dominant. He only gave up a pair of runs in six innings, but Bummer failed to work a single 1-2-3 inning and gave up seven hits. In fairness, the junior threw mostly fastballs after the Huskers amassed their massive lead.

"That's a very difficult situation as a starting pitcher, to have an 11-0 lead early," Erstad said. "All we're asking him to do is throw strikes, and their team is thinking about hitting home runs and getting some numbers on the board. He did exactly what he needed to do. He threw strikes. He was probably up in the zone more than he would like and he didn't put away hitters, but at the end of the day, he did a good job."

Relievers Luke Bublitz, Colton Howell and Max Knutson handled the rest of the game without too much trouble.

Unfortunately, the game wasn't all sunshine - both Bublitz and shortstop Steven Reveles left the game after getting checked out by the team trainers. Erstad said Reveles, who pulled up lame on a third-inning double, is definitely out for Sunday's game and will be reevaluated when the Huskers return to Lincoln. Bublitz had an issue in his shoulder, though Erstad admitted he didn't know much about it yet.

Right-hander Chance Sinclair, who was masterful in his first career start last weekend, will get the start for Nebraska Sunday.

Saturday standouts

***Austin Christensen: The sophomore had two hits, including a double, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs. Christensen now has four hits in nine at-bats and four RBIs on the weekend.

Colton Howell: The outcome was already decided when he entered the game in the seventh inning, but the sophomore's performance was still impressive. Howell struck out a pair and allowed just one base runner in 1.1 innings of relief.

***Steven Reveles: His status is in doubt after he left the game in the third inning, but the shortstop was at the top of his game. He reached base in all three of his at-bats, collecting two hits and scoring twice.

Around the horn

***Pritchard singled in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 48 games.

***Darby and designated hitter Ben Miller were the only starters not to get a hit. Darby did reach on an error and scored once.


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