The Nebraska baseball team improved to 27-16 on year and 9-4 in Big Ten play with a series-opening 6-4 win on the road against the Michigan Wolverines (18-23-1, 8-8 Big Ten) on Friday night.
The Huskers scored all six of their runs in the fourth inning of UM starter Evan Hill and held off a nine-inning charge by the Wolverines to pick up their sixth straight win on the road.
Nebraska slugged 13 hits on the night, with four Huskers producing multi-hit games, including four of NU's first four batters. Michael Pritchard led the attack, going 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.
The series opener saw each team get a bases-loaded opportunity. The Wolverines had the bases loaded with no outs in the second and the top of their lineup coming to the plate, while the Huskers had the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth. Nebraska starter Christian DeLeon dug in and allowed just one run to spoil the Wolverines' shot at a big inning, while Pritchard delivered a game-changing blow with a three-RBI double that put the Huskers ahead 5-1.
After going 9.0 innings in each of his last three starts, Christian DeLeon lasted 5.1 innings for the Huskers on Friday night, but improved to 5-2 on the year. DeLeon had to throw 94 pitches on the night, but only gave up one run on six hits and two walks, with 34 pitches coming in the second inning.
The Huskers had an opportunity to put the first run of the game on the board in the second when two walks by Hill put runners on first and second with one out, but the Wolverine starter struck out Ty Kildow and Taylor Fish in order to end the threat.
Michigan then had its chance to score in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases with no outs following a leadoff walk, double and another walk. With No. 9 hitter Trey Miller up, DeLeon hit him with a full-count, forcing in the game's first run. The Wolverines were primed to break the game open with the top of their lineup coming to the plate, but DeLeon struck out Travis Maezes and Jacob Cronenworth looking, before getting Jackson Glines to fly out, limiting UM's damage to one run.
Nebraska's offense got to Hill in the fourth, sending 10 batters to the plate that scored six runs on six hits, including three doubles. Following back-to-back singles by Steven Reveles and Austin Darby, Kildow delivered his first career extra-base hit, a RBI double down the left-field line that tied the game 1-1. Fish then put the Huskers ahead 2-1 with a base hit, but Hill then picked up the second out of the inning when he got Kildow at home on a failed squeeze attempt by Ryan Boldt. With a chance to get out of the inning only down one, Hill issued a walk to Jake Placzek that loaded the bases and Pritchard made the free pass hurt with a three-RBI double into the left-field gap, his 14th double of the season. Pat Kelly then exchanged places with Pritchard, launching a double off the left-field wall that put the Huskers on top, 6-1. Blake Headley came to the plate for his second time in the inning and nearly plated the seventh run of the inning, but his liner was roped right at Johnny Slater in right field.
Hill's day was done after throwing 81 pitches through 4.0 innings, as he allowed six runs (all earned) on eight hits and four walks.
The Wolverines got leadoff doubles in both the fifth and sixth innings, but each time the Husker pitching staff stranded the runner at third base. After DeLeon gave up a double to Carmen Benedetti, who moved to third on a fly out, Bob Greco took the mound in relief. The senior right hander promptly struck out Jackson Lamb and got Slater to fly out to keep the Husker lead at 6-1.
After Greco retired the Wolverines in order in the eighth, he struggled to start the bottom of the ninth, giving up a single and double. Zach Hirsch took the mound and got a RBI groundout, but then walked Maezes. The senior lefty came back and got another groundout that scored a run, but Nebraska's lead to 6-3 with two outs. Glines stepped in and roped a single that scored Maezes, allowing the tying run to come to the plate in catcher Cole Martin. Hirsch ended the chance of a Wolverine comeback with a fielder's choice to Reveles.
The Huskers return to the Wilpon Complex tomorrow afternoon for the second game of their three-game series with the Wolverines, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. (CT). Greg Sharpe and Ben McLaughlin will have the call across the Husker Sports Network, while the game will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network (video.btn.com, subscription required).