Nebraska came into this weekend series with Northwestern riding its best recent streak of play all season. The Huskers had won five games in a row and 10 of 11 with a chance to build on both streaks against the Big Ten's worst team.
But the Wildcats' pitching has managed to completely flip the momentum. After Nebraska mustered just six hits in a 2-1 loss Friday night, Northwestern's pitchers were at it again in game one of Saturday's doubleheader. The Huskers tallied just eight hits and lost 3-2 to drop to 25-16 on the season and 7-4 in the Big Ten.
The Huskers and Wildcats will play the second game of the doubleheader this afternoon.
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Chance Sinclair submitted another strong start for Nebraska, allowing just two runs on eight hits in seven innings. But things quickly went sour when Bob Greco came on to start the eighth. After a leadoff walk to Matt Hopfner, Northwestern's Joe Hoscheit bunted up the third-base line. Not only were the Huskers unable to cleanly field the ball, but no one covered third and Hopfner alertly took the base. A ground out to the shortstop gave the Wildcats what ended up being the winning run.
Nebraska had its chances, but for the second straight game the offense couldn't come through. The Huskers loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh, but Blake Headley hit a laser back to the pitcher, who caught the ball and doubled off Austin Darby at third. Taylor Fish did come through with a two-out RBI single, but the Wildcats, as previously noted, retook the lead in the eighth.
The Huskers weren't done spoiling opportunities though. Michael Pritchard doubled and Pat Kelly walked with one out in the eighth, but Darby and Christian Cox both struck out swinging at pitches out of the zone.
Steven Reveles led off the ninth with a walk and reached third with two outs, but Ryan Boldt flew out to end the game. In the first two games of the series, Nebraska batted 14-for-70 (.200) with three runs scored against a staff that came into the series with a team ERA of 5.17.
Around the horn
***We haven't gotten an official report on Tanner Lubach's injury from Friday night, but we were told x-rays on his ankle were negative. Lubach is in a walking boot. Darin Erstad will likely address his injury after the second game.
***Nebraska led off the bottom of the third with a pair of singles by Reveles and Headley. At no point in 12 innings during Friday's game did the Huskers have back-to-back hits.
***The last time the Huskers sent the opposition down 1-2-3 in the first inning was in a win over Ohio State on April 5. The Wildcats put two on Saturday with a walk and a single.
***Kelly's fourth-inning RBI was the 100th of his career.
***Headley has two or more hits in five of his past seven games.