Aaron Bummer's outing largely signified Nebraska's contest Tuesday afternoon against Northern Colorado. The junior was far from perfect, but he battled through 5.2 solid innings to help propel the Huskers to a 10-2 win, their season-high fifth straight victory.
The final score was lopsided, but Nebraska pulled away with six runs in its last three innings. The Huskers were up 4-2 in the fourth when a Bears' batter sent a fly ball to the warning track that would have tied the game. But Nebraska weathered the storm and used a season-high 17 hits to improve to 9-5.
"Today is just about finding a way to win with the conditions being very difficult," Darin Erstad said. "There are a lot of distractions with classes and guys sprinting over here to get locked in. That wasn't exactly a put-away type of game where we were in control the entire time, and you see that a lot in midweek games. You're going to get everyone's best shot and we're going to have to continue to play well."
Bummer, who had been replaced in the weekend rotation when Kyle Kubat returned, gave up four hits and walked four batters, displaying some of the wild tendencies that plagued him through his first three starts. But he allowed only two runs (one earned) to score, keeping the Bears at bay while the offense got going.
"That's his thing - sometimes he just gets so wild and his ball is missing so bad," catcher Tanner Lubach said. "But when he gets back in the zone and makes them put it in play, he's doing what he's supposed to be doing. We're looking forward to him getting better this year."
And awake the offense did. After stranding runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings, Nebraska scored at least once in each of its final six at-bats. Leading the way were Lubach (three hits, including a double and a triple), Michael Pritchard (three hits, two doubles) and Pat Kelly (four hits, first home run of the season).
On a day that saw several plays affected by massive wind gusts, the Huskers played well defensively, committing just one error. But Nebraska's mistakes on the base paths drew Erstad's ire, and NU will look to clean up those miscues before meeting Northern Colorado against Wednesday at 1:35 p.m.
"We want to play well in all parts of the game," Erstad said. "We had some mistakes on the bases that just can't happen. They're non-negotiable. They're learning lessons for guys that don't have a lot of playing time and they're things we can work on. The nuts and bolts of playing defense and throwing strikes, that was alright."
***Shortstop Steven Reveles, who's been out since Feb. 22 with a pulled hamstring, was a late defensive replacement. Erstad said Reveles is cleared and he plans on playing the junior a bit on Wednesday as well
"We'll see how it sets up for the weekend," Erstad said.
***Third baseman Blake Headley missed the game with back spasms and Erstad doesn't believe he'll play Wednesday either.
"He's doing better today," Erstad said. "It's calmed down a little bit. I'm going to do my best not to let him do anything tomorrow again. These spasms have just been kicking up for about a week. Hopefully we'll have him ready to go by the weekend."
Michael Pritchard: After hitting three doubles on Sunday, Pritchard added another pair of two-baggers Tuesday. Though he has just one home run on the season, Pritchard's extra-base prowess has his slugging percentage north of .600.
"Nothing that guy does surprises me," Erstad said. "That guy was born to hit. He just has amazing God-given hand-eye coordination."
Pat Kelly: The second baseman had two hits in his previous 11 at-bats but crushed the mini-slump Tuesday. His four sits were his most since a five-for-five performance against Oregon State on Feb. 15. His shot over the right field wall was his first homer of the year.
Around the horn
***Pritchard extended his-on-base streak to 56 games with a fifth-inning single.
***Lubach's triple was Nebraska's 11th of the season. The Huskers had 13 all of last year.
***Nebraska has had at least 10 hits in six straight games.
***The attendance was 767.