On a chilly day at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City, Iowa, the Nebraska baseball team (13-8, 1-1 Big Ten) tallied 10 hits on its way to posting a 5-1 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-6, 1-1 Big Ten) to even the three-game weekend series at a game apiece.
A day after Christian DeLeon gave the Huskers 8.0 shutout innings, Nebraska starter Chance Sinclair nearly matched the outing on Saturday with 7.0 strong innings on the mound. The only run Sinclair allowed was unearned, and he dropped his ERA from 0.64 to 0.43 on the year. Sinclair has now gone at least 7.0 innings in three of his six starts on the year.
Iowa starter Sasha Kuebel fell to 0-2 in three career starts against the Huskers, including back-to-back losses at Duane Banks Field. The lefty lasted 5.2 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and two walks. Kuebel had a 1-2-3 first inning, but then gave up two or more hits to the Huskers in four of the next five innings.
Eight Huskers notched a hit on the day, including a pair of his from juniors Pat Kelly and Austin Darby. Kelly, Darby and Steven Reveles all had RBIs on the afternoon, while Darby, Reveles and Ryan Boldt each roped a double off Kuebel.
For the second straight day the Huskers took the game's first lead when they cashed in three runs on two hits in the third. Darby go the rally started with a four-pitch walk and moved to third on a one-out double by Reveles, his sixth of the season. Kuebel got a big out when he got Michael Pritchard to pop up for the second out of the inning, but then gifted a run to the Huskers with a wild pitch that scored Darby. Kelly quickly increased NU's lead to 2-0 with his second infield single of the game, scoring Reveles. The inning got worse for the Hawkeyes when Tanner Lubach reached on a fielding error by third baseman Nick Day, which was followed by a passed ball and a wild pitch that allowed Kelly to score NU's third run of the inning. Kuebel put an end to the bleeding when he got Boldt to bounce into a groundout.
Iowa was able to scratch its lone run of the game across in the bottom of third when Jake Yacinich came through with a two-out RBI single. The two-out hit scored Eric Toole, who had reached earlier in the inning on a fielder's choice and was in scoring position at second base due to a throwing error by Sinclair on a failed pickoff attempt.
Nebraska's offense got the run back and added a run in the top of the fourth on three hits and a pair of sacrifice bunts. Jake Placzek and Bryce Only put together back-to-back singles to open the frame, before Ty Kildow laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved both Huskers into scoring position. The bunt paid off when Darby delivered an RBI single that scored Placzek and moved Only to third. The Huskers then went back to their small-ball game plan, as Reveles executed a RBI sacrifice bunt that scored Only, putting the Huskers in front, 5-1.
Iowa tried to cut into NU's lead in the fifth when it had a pair of runners on with one down and the middle of its order up, but Sinclair got back-to-back ground balls to keep the Huskers' four-run lead intact. Sinclair then needed just four pitches to retire the Hawkeyes in the sixth.
The Hawkeyes tried to score again in the seventh when they had a pair of runners on with two down and Yacinich up, but Sinclair notched his sixth scoreless inning of the game by getting the Hawkeyes No. 3 hitter in ground into a fielder's choice.
Senior Zach Hirsch finished the game with 2.0 innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts. The lefty allowed a leadoff double to start the ninth, but came back with three straight outs, including a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
The Huskers and Hawkeyes will meet for the rubber match of their three-game series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Junior lefty Aaron Bummer will take the mound for the Huskers, while sophomore righty Tyler Peyton will climb the hill for the Hawkeyes after playing first base the first two games of the series. Lane Grindle and Ben McLaughlin will have the call across the Husker Sports Network, including for free on Huskers.com.