After the Huskers looked lethargic in a 9-1 loss to Kansas State Tuesday night, several NU players vowed that kind of effort wouldn't show up again this weekend. It didn't take long for them to live up to their promise.
Nebraska jumped on top of Iowa with a four-run first inning Friday night and never looked back, blasting the Hawkeyes 12-5 to improve to 6-1 in Big Ten play. The Huskers have won their past five league contests.
The Huskers didn't wait long to get on the board as center fielderRich Sanguinetti led off the game with a double and came around to score on Pat Kelly's single. Four batters later, Kash Kalkowski sent a pitch over the wall in left for a three-run homer, his first bomb of the year, to put the Huskers up 4-0, a lead it would never relinquish.
"I tip my hat to our guys," Darin Erstad said on his postgame radio appearance. "They came ready to play. It was a business-like attitude in batting practice and they took it right into the game. I tell you what, their pitcher is good. He left a couple balls up, but he's got some pretty darned good stuff. I know he's struggled this year but our guys had a challenge in front of them and they answered. Pat Kelly attacked on the first pitch and we just kept going from there."
Nebraska scored again in the fourth, but Iowa's demise truly came in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Tanner Lubach doubled to right center to clear the bases and give NU an 8-2 lead. The hit was a bit of a theme on the night, as eight of Nebraska's 12 runs came with two outs.
"That's something - a hit to the outfield gap," Erstad said. "If there's going to be a video next to that definition, that would be it. That was on a line. That's what you saw in the fall and that's one of the reasons he's our starting catcher.
As NU continued to pound the Hawkeye pitchers, Nebraska hurler Christian DeLeon lived on the edge. The junior gave up 10 hits, walked a pair and hit a batter in his six innings but allowed just two runs. Iowa stranded 10 runners in the first four innings before DeLeon settled down a bit.
"He had a lot of 1-2, 0-2 counts where we were trying to stretch, which means bounce a breaking ball or changeup behind home plate, and get them to chase, but he was throwing it right down the middle," Erstad said. "I had a little talking to him. He can sometimes get a little lackadaisical out there and kind of fall asleep. We tried to shake his tree a little bit and he responded. He came out with some really good pitches. He went out and shut the door."
The Huskers and Hawkeyes will play again tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.
***Sanguinetti: had four hits, including a double, and added a run and an RBI.
***Relief pitcherLuke Bublitz: pitched a scoreless inning of relief, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.