All season long, Dylan Vogt and Josh Roeder have been Nebraska's foundations in the bullpen. On a team where the pitching runs hot and cold, that pair has been as consistent as coach Darin Erstad could ask for.
But Saturday wasn't their day. Vogt gave up four runs in the top of the seventh inning to give Ohio State its first lead of the day. The Huskers were able to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Roeder allowed a run in the eleventh when center fielder Rich Sanguinetti missed a diving catch that allowed a Buckeye runner to score from first. Nebraska wasn't able to respond and the Huskers fell 6-5.
Nebraska is now 8-3 in the Big Ten and, thanks to Indiana's loss to Michigan State earlier in the day, still tied with the Hoosiers atop the conference standings.
"We made a crucial mistake in the outfield - in a no-doubles situation, we dove and they took advantage of it," Erstad said. "It was a great fight on our side and their side. We had our best guy on the mound with a three-run lead and they got to him. You tip your hat. They took us down."
Nebraska's offense got going early against OSU start Brad Goldberg, who hadn't given up more than two earned runs in any of his eight starts coming into the game. Third baseman Blake Headley knocked in a run in the second inning, Sanguinetti added a run-scoring single in the fourth and the Huskers plated a pair of runs in the fifth to chase Goldberg and take a 4-1 lead.
The offense bogged down, but the Huskers seemed to be in good hands with Vogt on the mound. The senior had given up just five earned runs in his last 11 appearances and cruised through his first inning of work in the sixth. But the Buckeyes got to Vogt in the seventh, scoring four runs on three hits to take their first lead of the day.
"I'm confident (in Vogt), but I also understand anything can happen," Erstad said. "You continue to play out by out. It's about executing. Dylan got a little sideways in that inning and they came up with a big hit. We had some opportunities to get out of there and we didn't."
The Huskers didn't have a base runner in the seventh or eighth innings, but Michael Pritchard's one-out single in the bottom of the ninth gave them life. Erstad called on speedster Ty Kildow to pinch run and the junior swiped second and moved to third when the catcher's throw went into center field. With two outs, Austin Darby singled through the right side to send the game to extra innings.
But after cruising through the 10th, Roeder gave up a two-out single to Troy Kuhn. The next batter hit a line drive to center and Sanguinetti dove in an attempt to make the catch. He missed and Kuhn, who was running on contact, scored easily from first.
"The run from first can't score, so you take good angles and you play a little deeper," Erstad said. "You can't leave your feet. I have to remind them better in those situations."
The loss spoiled a brilliant outing by sophomore Aaron Bummer, who made his first ever weekend start. The sophomore gave up just one run in his five innings and avoided giving any free passes on walks or hit batters, something he's struggled with at times this year.
"I thought he did fantastic," Erstad said. "I thought he took a big step here today. (The rotation is) wide open. Whoever wants to pitch and get guys out like that… that guy earned himself another shot on the weekend."
***Austin Darby - he only had one hit on the day, but he made it count. The sophomore's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth scored the game-tying run and pushed the contest into extra innings.
***Aaron Bummer - the sophomore said he felt he commanded the zone during his five innings and it's hard to argue with him. Bummer gave up just four hits and struck out three.
Around the horn
***Erstad confirmed that Zach Hirsch broke his non-pitching arm in practice this week and will be out for six weeks. Unless Nebraska gets to the postseason, Hirsch's season is likely over.
***Kash Kalkowski was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning, the 14th time he's been plunked this year. It was the 40th hit-by-pitch of his career, putting him in fifth place in school history.
***Bryan Peters was also plunked in the game, the 47th of his career. He moved out of a tie with Kale Kiser and took over third place on NU's all-time list by himself.