The Nebraska offense has been red-hot in Big Ten competition lately, but Purdue gave the Huskers some help in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader. The Boilermakers committed five errors and tossed five wild pitches in the eighth inning to help Nebraska win game one 10-2.
"The first couple of innings, our approach was awful," coach Darin Erstad said on his postgame radio appearance. "We just kept hitting ground ball after ground ball to the pull side. Coach Bolt had a little talk with them and then they made an adjustment and did a nice job. It's tough conditions all the way around, any way you look at it. Hitting or on the mound, it's cold. But you've got to find a way to battle through that and our guys did that today."
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The Huskers were held scoreless by Purdue starter Robert Ramer for the first five innings but broke out in the fifth. The Huskers scored three runs on five hits, including and RBI double by Taylor Fish and run-scoring singles by Bryan Peters and Pat Kelly.
But Nebraska truly broke the game open late. The Huskers capitalized on two errors and five wild pitches by Purdue in the eighth inning to score four runs. Then Kash Kalkowski lashed a bases-clearing double to truly blow the game open in the ninth.
NU capitalized several times on the positioning of Purdue shortstop Jake Hansen. The Boilermaker was playing more toward third base and the Huskers feasted on base hits back up the middle in the game's late innings. It was the sixth time in Purdue's last seven games that the Boilermakers' opponent has scored 10 runs or more.
"They were pounding sinkers in," Erstad said. "They weren't at a high velocity, but we're trying to pull it and hitting right into their defense. We started staying in the middle of the field and hit some 19-hoppers up the middle. They're putting that guy there for a reason - to take advantage of people that aren't having a good approach. We adjusted our approach, did a nice job and found a way to get it done."
Even if the NU bats had struggled, Nebraska's pitching was more than up to the task. Christian DeLeon was sharp yet again, pitching seven innings and giving up just one run. Luke Bublitz pitched the final two frame while giving up just one run and the Nebraska defense turned four double plays.
The Huskers and Boilermakers play game two at 6 p.m.
***Christian DeLeon: gave up just one earned run in the game's first seven innings. Though the junior only struck out three, he kept NU's bullpen fresh for the second half of the doubleheader. DeLeon gave up six hits and two walks.
***Kash Kalkowski: had two hits, including a bases-clearing double in the top of the ninth, to finish the day with four RBIs and a run scored.
Around the horn
***Michael Pritchard's first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest such streak by a Husker this season.
***Eight Huskers regulars are hitting .300 or better in conference play.
***Fish's fifth-inning double was the first extra-base hit of his career.