LINCOLN — Nebraska’s pitchers gave one of the nation’s best offenses too many chances Wednesday night, unable to preserve a potential comeback and prevent a season series sweep by Kansas State.
Nine Husker hurlers combined to walk eight batters and hit four others, the highest total of free passes given up all year by NU. And the K-State lineup, which led the country in batting average at .331 to start the week, had little trouble capitalizing.
The Wildcats (29-13) absorbed Nebraska’s mid-game surge and took control with five runs in the sixth and seven innings, holding on for a 13-10 win at Haymarket Park to snap NU’s five-game winning streak.
“you hit batters and you walk guys, then you give up hits on top of that — you’re going to lose,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said.
But a game that looked destined for disaster never quite got out of hand Wednesday, a credit to the surging NU hitters.
After falling behind 8-1 in the second inning, the Huskers (19-20) scored the game’s next eight runs. They used three straight two-out, RBI singles to trim the deficit to 8-4 in the bottom of the second.
And in the fifth, first baseman Kash Kalkowski drove in two runs when he lined a triple to right-center field. He crossed the plate and tied the game on Blake Headley’s single. Sophomore second baseman Pat Kelly gave Nebraska a temporary lead, at 9-8, when he lifted a sacrifice fly to center field.
“We get down early in the game, but that didn’t really faze us,” Kelly said.
The NU lead didn’t last long.
The Wildcats had three singles and a sacrifice fly against three NU relievers in the sixth. Three KSU batters were plunked in that inning alone. K-State added two more runs off Nebraska closer Dylan Vogt in the seventh.
The Huskers did score once in the eighth inning, but Austin Darby’s RBI single was one of just two hits NU recorded during the game’s final four frames.
It wasn’t an issue of being emotionally drained, according to Kalkowski.
“All year we’ve had to fight back, and that’s what we did,” said the senior from Grand Island, Neb., who finished a home run shy of the cycle. “We’re going to go from inning one to inning nine, just keep fighting. Even if the pitcher gives up a run. Who cares? We’re going to get that run back.”
The Wildcats had 20 plate appearances in the first two innings. Three Husker pitchers combined to walk five KSU batters, allowing seven hits. They needed 82 pitches to maneuver through the threats.
It could have been worse. The Wildcats left the bases loaded in the first and second innings.
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