The Huskers were in the midst of a five-game winning streak, arguably playing some of their best baseball of the season. Their fortunes changed for the worse Wednesday.
One day after pasting Northern Colorado 10-2, the Huskers came out flat and gave up 15 hits to the Bears, the season high for an opponent. Northern Colorado, which came into the game 0-10 in road games, left Lincoln with a 9-2 win.
The loss drops Nebraska to 9-6 on the season.
"Let's make one thing clear right now - Northern Colorado whupped our butts," Darin Erstad said. "They played fantastic. Did we come out with the intensity we needed to come out with? Did we give up too many free passes? Did we not compete in our at-bats early in the game? Absolutely. But make no mistake, they came out and took what they wanted and earned every second of it."
Northern Colorado was in control almost from the get-go. Freshman Jake Hohensee, making his first career start, was never able to find a groove, giving up three hits, two walks and three runs in his two innings.
Nebraska then turned to its army of relievers to try and turn things around, but no one seemed to be able to find success against a team that entered the game with a .233 batting average. The Bears pulled away late, scoring a combined six runs in innings five through eight.
"We're getting behind and the only thing we can throw over the plate is a fastball in hitters' counts, and you're going to get hurt if you're up in the zone," Erstad said. "When (the offense) can't get a rally started, that's when on the mound you have to limit your free passes.
"We had three leadoff walks in that game and all of them scored. They were able to build on their lead and that's where that stuff gets exposed. That's where we have to get a lot better."
The pitching didn't help matters, but the offense didn't hold up its end of the bargain either. The Huskers finished with seven hits, breaking a streak of six games with at least 10 hits. Second baseman Pat Kelly was the only NU player with more than one hit and Nebraska didn't score until the fifth inning.
"You can tell right away," right fielder Austin Darby said of the team's sluggish start. "When you see that they're hopping on, getting pitchers and getting on base and we're not, everybody's morale goes down. Then they do it over and over. You can't roll over and die. I feel like we didn't play our game after our slow start. We were playing from behind and there wasn't much oomph behind it."
The Huskers will look to rebound this weekend against UC Irvine, starting Friday at4:35 p.m.
Around the horn
***The Huskers will use the same rotation this weekend against UC Irvine as they did last weekend: Kyle Kubat on Friday, Christian DeLeon on Saturday and Chance Sinclair on Sunday.
***Shortstop Steven Reveles, who has been dealing with a hamstring issue since NU's fifth game, entered in the fourth, an encouraging sign. Reveles played one inning Tuesday and was 1-for-2 with a walk Wednesday.
***Michael Pritchard extended his on-base streak to 57 games with a first-inning single. He has at least one hit in his past six games.
***The attendance was 1,328.