MINNEAPOLIS — After being shut out in the series opener, Minnesota found its offense at the right time Saturday to hand Nebraska a 4-3 loss in the second game of the Big Ten series that featured two of the top four teams in the league entering the weekend.
Sophomore Austin Darby accounted for three of the seven hits for the Huskers (22-26, 13-7 Big Ten), including an RBI triple in the fourth that tied the game 3-3. Neither team scored after that until the bottom of the eighth.
Ryan Abrahamson opened the inning for the Gophers (29-17, 12-5) with a single. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Dan Olinger.
After NU coach Darin Erstad brought in sophomore Josh Roeder to relieve Luke Bublitz, Minnesota countered with pinch hitter Mark Tatera. The Husker outfield was playing deep with winds gusting out at nearly 20 mph, which allowed Tatera to drop a single into shallow center that scored Abrahamson.
Roeder gave up another single before retiring two straight to keep it a one-run game heading into the ninth. But Dalton Sawyer closed the door on any NU threat, striking out the side in the top of the ninth to earn the win.
Sawyer tossed 2-1/3 hitless innings in relief, walking one and striking out four to improve to 2-2.
Bublitz (2-1) took the loss, allowing one run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning.
Nebraska took advantage of three Minnesota errors in the first to take a 2-0 lead. Pat Kelly was the only Husker to register a hit in the inning while Kash Kalkowski notched an RBI on an error by second baseman Connor Schaefbauer and Blake Headley drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
The Gophers scored their first run of the weekend in the second. Abrahamson led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a passed ball. Then they took their first lead of the series in the third.
With runners on the corners and one out, Kurt Schlangen dropped a double down the right-field line on a full count that scored two to give Minnesota a 3-2 edge.
Kyle Kubat went the first six innings for NU, allowing three runs — two earned — on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Designated hitter Michael Pritchard added two hits for the Huskers.
Minnesota climbed back atop the Big Ten standings as Indiana lost 12-1 to Northwestern on Saturday. Nebraska dropped to fourth.
The teams play the rubber match at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Nebraska will send Aaron Bummer to the mound against DJ Snelten.