LOS ANGELES — Nebraska was two outs away from its first win of the season Sunday afternoon, but the Huskers couldn't hold on in the bottom of the ninth at USC.
The Trojans (1-2), trailing 3-2 heading into the final inning, loaded the bases with one out against senior reliever Dylan Vogt, who then surrendered a sacrifice fly that tied the game and a single that ended it.
Senior second baseman Adam Landecker had the decisive hit, singling into left field to score Kevin Swick from second for the 4-3 victory.
The defeat drops Nebraska to 0-4. The Huskers haven't lost their first four games since 1994.
But this year's opening weekend (featuring four true road games) could have easily unfolded more favorably had Nebraska focused on the small details, coach Darin Erstad said.
“We could have been 3-1, maybe 2-2 very easily,” Erstad said during a postgame radio interview. “It's that fine of a line that you walk in this game. And (the players) need to understand that.”
The Huskers blew an early 2-0 lead Friday at CSU Bakersfield, which is picked to finish fifth in the WAC. No. 22 Cal State Fullerton swept a doubleheader against NU Saturday.
And Sunday, after the Huskers temporarily seized control with a three-run sixth, they could have put the game away in the ninth inning.
Seniors Kash Kalkowski and Josh Scheffert hit back-to-back singles to start the ninth inning. But after they advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt, sophomore designated hitter Austin Darby and freshman shortstop Jake Placzek struck out.
USC capitalized on the momentum swing.
“When you play teams that are quality opponents, you give them any opportunities and you don't put them away, stuff like that's going to happen,” Erstad said. “Unfortunately, we're learning the hard way right now.”
Nebraska did have some scoring opportunities during the first five innings, though the Huskers recorded two hits during that stretch. They were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
But the NU hitters came alive in the sixth, when they started figuring out freshman left-hander Kyle Twomey, a third-round MLB draft pick last summer.
Sophomore second baseman Pat Kelly and senior center fielder Rich Sanguinetti led off with singles. The Huskers tied the game 1-1 on Kalkowski's single to left. Scheffert's sacrifice fly gave NU its first lead and Tanner Lubach's two-out, RBI hit made it 3-1.
Vogt, Nebraska's most reliable reliever, was summoned from the bullpen soon after. And he helped the Huskers escape a couple jams right away.
With runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, Vogt induced a double play to end the inning with NU still in front 3-1.
An inning later, Vogt gave up a run, but managed to preserve the lead at 3-2 despite USC's Timmy Robinson reaching third base with one out. Robinson got caught in a rundown when third baseman Scheffert threw home after fielding a sharp grounder.
But the Trojans broke through in the ninth. Vogt gave up a single and a double with one out before walking a batter intentionally to load the bases.
Then sophomore Garrett Stubbs hit a fly ball to left field that tied the game. It was over one batter later when Landecker singled.
“It should never have gotten to that point,” Erstad said.
The Huskers begin a three-game series at Texas (2-1) Friday.