Even against an Iowa offense that is statistically among the worst in the Big Ten, Nebraska's pitching has continued to struggle. After the Hawkeyes banged out 13 hits Friday, they came back with 14 more on Saturday and chased NU starter Ryan Hander after just 2.1 innings.
But just as it did Friday night, the offense was there to pick the arms up.
The Huskers had 17 hits, including five doubles, and scored 12 runs for the second straight game to help Nebraska beat Iowa 12-8, its sixth straight win in Big Ten play. The victory also gave NU its third straight conference series win, a streak the team hasn't accomplished in a single season since 2008.
Every Husker had at least one hit as they hammered Iowa's pitchers early and often. Hawkeye hurler Matt Dermody entered the day with a 5-1 record and a 3.04 ERA, but he lasted just four innings and was tagged for seven earned runs. After Iowa scored in the first, Nebraska responded with two runs in the second, three in the third and three in the fourth.
But NU's pitching struggles threatened to sink its offensive effort. Hander gave up six runs in his 2.1 innings with most of the damage coming in Iowa's five-run third inning. Zach Hirsch entered and calmed the storm a bit, but he gave up a pair of base runners in the sixth inning, both of whom came in to score on Luke Bublitz.
But once again, the bats were there to pick the pitching up. Nebraska scored three runs on three hits in the top of the seventh inning, highlighted by a two-out, two-RBI single by Michael Pritchard that put Nebraska on top for good.
Darin Erstad turned to the reliable Dylan Vogt for the game's final three innings and the senior responded. He gave up three hits but kept Iowa off the board to preserve the victory.
The Huskers and Hawkeyes will play the series finale Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
***Pritchard: tallied four hits, including the aforementioned single, and finished with four RBIs.