IRVINE, Calif. — Nebraska’s four-run lead nearly evaporated in a dramatic ninth inning, but the Huskers held on for a 4-1 win at UC Irvine on Saturday.
Reliever Zach Hirsch, who had retired 10 straight batters, gave up a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth. Closer Dylan Vogt entered the game, but he promptly walked the bases loaded.
Sophomore Josh Roeder cleaned up the mess, though, inducing a popout, recording a strikeout and getting a flyout to preserve the victory over the Anteaters (14-5).
“There were definitely a lot of nerves running through me, but I just calmed myself down and went from there,” said Roeder, a right-hander from Plano, Texas, who earned his first career save.
Roeder has pitched out of several jams already this season and still hasn’t allowed an earned run. It didn’t look like he’d be needed Saturday.
The Huskers (6-10) broke a scoreless tie with a three-run seventh inning, benefiting from a key throwing error on sophomore Austin Darby’s sacrifice bunt attempt. Senior third baseman Josh Scheffert scored on the play to make it 1-0. Senior Bryan Peters drove in two more runs with a one-out single.
Senior outfielder Chad Christensen made it 4-0 with a solo home run in the eighth inning.
NU coach Darin Erstad praised his players’ approach.
“I don’t think anybody can match our intensity and energy when we bring it like that,” Erstad said on the Husker Sports Network. “It was good for (the players) to see some of their hard work pay off right there.”
Senior right-hander Ryan Hander pitched 413 scoreless innings before Hirsch, a junior lefty, took over and pitched even more effectively.
Hirsch entered in the fifth and left an UC Irvine runner stranded on second.
No one else reached base off Hirsch until Connor Spencer hit a two-out single in the eighth. Then Irvine’s Taylor Sparks led off the ninth with a solo shot.
Vogt couldn’t find the strike zone, but Roeder bailed him out.
“Roeder did what great teammates do: He picked him up,” Erstad said.
The teams finish their three-game series with a Sunday rubber match at 3 p.m. CDT.
Nebraska (6-10) ........................... 000 000 310—4 8 0
At UC Irvine (14-5) ........................... 000 000 001—1 4 1
W: Hirsch, 1-1. L: Whitehouse, 2-2. S: Roeder, 1. 2B: NU, Kalkowski (3), UCI, Taylor (6). HR: Christensen (1), UCI, Sparks (2).