GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Nebraska couldn’t capitalize on enough scoring chances to avoid its first loss of the weekend, falling 4-3 to Utah in the Pac-12/Big Ten challenge.
Nebraska stranded nine runners, which included leaving the potential tying run on third base in the sixth inning. There also were runners on first and second with two outs in the eighth, but the Huskers (4-3) couldn’t get the timely hit.
“We had an opportunity to win this game a couple different times,” coach Darin Erstad said on his postgame radio interview. “We grinded — I thought the effort was good. But at the end of the day, we just didn’t get it done.”
The Huskers had a quick turnaround Sunday. Their Saturday game, originally supposed to start at 7 p.m. local time, was delayed more than three hours by Utah’s 15-inning win against No. 10 Indiana.
NU blew out Washington 13-3 Saturday night and upset No. 2 Oregon State 9-2 Friday, but its hitters weren’t able to find the same kind of success against the Utes (4-3) for a matchup that began at noon local time Sunday.
And starter Chance Sinclair, who lasted seven innings in his Husker debut a week ago, didn’t have his best stuff Sunday.
Utah took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and knocked the junior right-hander out of the game in the second. Sinclair walked four and allowed two hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Nebraska’s defense also committed two errors, which lead to two unearned runs — one in the first and another in the sixth. NU was charged with just five errors in its first six games.
“I just thought we made a couple mental mistakes on easy plays or simple throwing strikes,” Erstad said.
He mentioned the bottom of the sixth inning as a missed opportunity, as well.
Sophomore first baseman Austin Christensen trimmed the Utah lead to 4-3 with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth. Freshman outfielder Ryan Boldt laid down a sacrifice but to put runners on second and third with one out.
But freshman left fielder Christian Cox struck out and sophomore catcher Taylor Fish grounded out to end the threat.
“We have to be able to execute in those situations,” Erstad said.
The Huskers will next play a three-game series against The Citadel, starting at 4 p.m. Friday in Charleston, S.C.