One glance at the Big Ten standings coming into Nebraska's series with Purdue definitively showed that the Huskers were the superior team. But just in case there was any doubt, NU emphatically proved it on the field.
The Huskers pounded the Boilermakers 12-2 in the series finale to earn its first conference road sweep since 2008 to improve to 11-4 in Big Ten play. Only Minnesota, whose weekend series was cancelled due to snow, stands between Nebraska and the top spot in the conference.
"We talk about creating our own atmosphere," coach Darin Erstad said on his postgame radio appearance. "To not have one error the entire weekend when the other team kicked it around a little bit and not let our game drop down was a very good sign to see. Our pitchers pounded the zone and we took advantage of their mistakes. It was a good all-around weekend. We took care of business like we should have and we'll go from here."
After making a sterling season debut against Arkansas Tuesday, Kyle Kubat picked up his second win of the week with a strong outing. Other than a fourth inning in which he gave up three hits and a pair of runs, the sophomore was nearly unhittable.
"It was about what I expected," Erstad said of Kubat's start. "His adrenaline was pumping pretty good on Tuesday. I expected maybe a little bit of a dip coming back on short rest and I thought he did great considering those circumstances."
Kubat left the game after five innings leading 3-2, but the Huskers quickly erased any question of the game's outcome. Nebraska scored two in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings and three in the eighth to demolish Purdue, which drops to 11-25 after winning the conference last year. Six Huskers had multiple hits, led by second baseman Pat Kelly's four.
"We talked a lot about coming out and taking their will early on," Erstad said. "We were in position to do that and we didn't take care of it. But we also talked about just getting on base. If we kept getting in scoring position, eventually they were going to crack. Sure enough, it did again. It's that constant pressure and the chaos on the bases that we talk about."
Michael Pritchard got the ball rolling for the offense in the sixth. The Huskers had stranded 10 runners through the first five innings, but the left fielder doubled off the wall in left to score Rich Sanguinetti and Kash Kalkowski.
The rout was on from there. Nebraska scored seven runs on seven hits in the game's final three innings off of four Purdue pitchers. Nebraska scored 25 of its 32 runs this weekend in the sixth inning or later.
Nebraska is in action next at home against Kansas State on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m.
***Wes Edrington: The freshman had arguably the finest offensive day of his young career. Edrington had two hits and walked three times. He drove in a run and scored twice.
**Scheffert: After a big pinch-hit appearance Saturday, Scheffert did his damage from the starting lineup on Sunday. He had two hits (one of which drove in a run), walked twice, stole two bases and scored three times.
Around the horn
***Pritchard extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a fifth-inning single, the longest streak by a Husker this season.
***Christensen had by far the luckiest day of any Husker - the senior reached three times thanks to Purdue errors.