Published Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm / Updated at 10:53 pm
Husker offense is 0-for-Texas; skid reaches 7

AUSTIN, Texas — Nebraska’s struggling offense, defined this year mostly by the opportunities it’s failed to capitalize on, wasn’t even in a position to squander any chances at Texas on Sunday.

The Huskers managed two hits and four baserunners in a 2-0 loss, the seventh straight defeat to begin a challenging nonconference schedule. It’s already the second time they’ve been shut out this year after averaging 7.1 runs per game (eighth nationally) and hitting .315 as a team last season.

“We’ve been close in a lot of these games against good teams,” senior Chad Christensen said. “It’s not like we’re getting blown out of the water. We’ve just got to execute a few things and we’re right there.”

Getting over the proverbial hump is the next step. And Longhorn starter Nathan Thornhill made it tough for NU to do that Sunday.

The junior right-hander said he spent Saturday charting Texas pitchers, noticing that the Husker lineup didn’t do much with fastballs down in the strike zone. A bunch of grounders, Thornhill said.

So his plan was to work off his heater all afternoon. It worked.

Senior shortstop Bryan Peters and sophomore second baseman Pat Kelly had Nebraska’s only two hits (both singles), and those came with bases empty and two outs in the third and fifth innings.

The one time the Huskers got their leadoff man on, in the third inning, sophomore catcher Tanner Lubach hit a grounder right to the shortstop on a hit-and-run. It would have been an easy double play, but C.J Hinojosa’s throw to first was wild — and Lubach got tagged out after rounding first.

“Our plan the whole weekend was to keep the fastball down at their knees,” Thornhill said.

The Huskers, who hit .223 during the series sweep at Texas (6-1), faced a new problem each day. They were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position Friday, they couldn’t execute sacrifice bunts Saturday and they couldn’t square up fastballs Sunday.

And against talented teams — NU’s first four opponents were a combined 18-7 heading into Sunday — your weaknesses tend to get exploited, coach Darin Erstad said.

“If you’re not feeling good at the plate and you’re facing these kind of guys, you’re going to get dominated,” he said.

But despite that, the Huskers still had a chance until the end Sunday, thanks to the performance of senior right-hander Ryan Hander.

Hander worked himself in and out of jams all afternoon. He left a UT runner stranded on third base in the second, fourth and fifth innings. He tied a career high with seven strikeouts, recording back-to-back punchouts to wiggle out of those fourth- and fifth-inning jams.

But Texas had five leadoff men reach base, which proved to be too many opportunities for an offense that’s built to manufacture runs. The Longhorns laid down four sacrifice bunts and stole three bases. Only one of Texas’ seven games thus far (an 8-2 win over NU Friday) has been decided by more than three runs.

The Longhorns took a 1-0 lead in the fourth and added one more in the sixth. The production was more than enough for Thornhill, who needed just 80 pitches in seven innings.

“Once you get your feel and you settle in, you do get into a groove — and that’s the best feeling out there,” he said. “To be able to trust your stuff, and not be thinking or worrying about anything, just letting it go.”

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.



< >
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.'s Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
< >