The Nebraska baseball team (0-5, 0-0 Big Ten) took a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning on Friday night at Disch-Falk stadium, but in front of 6,004 fans the Texas Longhorns (4-1, 0-0 Big 12) responded with the game’s final seven runs to win the series opener, 8-2.
The Longhorns’ knockout blow came in the bottom of the eighth, when they turned a one-run advantage, 3-2, into a six run lead with five runs off three hits, two walks and two HBP.
The two offenses matched each other with nine hits each, but the Longhorns put the ball in play more with three strikeouts, while the Huskers were fanned 12 times.
Josh Scheffert led the way offensively for Nebraska with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate, including two doubles, the first two-double game of this career.
After lasting just 2.0 innings in the season opener, NU starter Brandon Pierce fell to 0-2 on the season, but gave the Huskers 5.2 solid innings back in his home state. The junior righty sent the Longhorns down in order in the second and fifth innings, while retiring 10 of the first 12 batters he faced.
Texas starter Parker French improved to 2-0 on the year, but the Huskers did some damage with a pair of runs off eight hits over 6.1 innings. In last Friday’s season opener, French pitched seven shutout innings and gave up just three hits.
After going down in order in the top of the first, the Husker bats came to life with a pair of runs on four straight hits to take a 2-0 lead. Blake Headley got the inning going with a one-out base hit, the game’s first hit from either team. Scheffert followed with a double that reached the left field wall, allowing Headley to score from first. Austin Darby then came through with a single to center that scored Scheffert. Tanner Lubach delivered NU’s fourth straight hit off French with a perfectly executed hit-and-run. Following a visit to the mound, French got Jake Placzek to ground into a 6-3 double play to stop Nebraska from getting to the top of its order.
Pierce continued the momentum into the bottom of the second, where he retired Texas’ 5-6-7 hitters in order. The Longhorns picked up their first hit off Pierce to start the third with a base knock from Codey McElroy, but Pierce responded with three straight outs to keep UT scoreless through three innings.
After Texas got on the board with a run in the fourth on three straight singles, Pierce came back with a strong fifth inning, sending down the Longhorns in order. He was unable to fly though the sixth though, as he gave up three walks and with the bases loaded, McElroy delivered a two-out single to score a pair of runs. Josh Roeder entered for his Nebraska debut and promptly retired Ben Johnson to end the sixth with Texas leading, 3-2.
The Huskers had the tying run in scoring position at second base in the top of the seventh with one out, but was unable to get Placzek home. Ty Marlow relieved French following a single from Pat Kelly and retired both Huskers he faced to end NU’s threat.
Texas closer Corey Knebel took the mound in the eighth and struck out the first two Huskers he faced, before Scheffert belted his second double of the game to put the tying run in scoring position. Knebel came back and struck out Austin Darby to strand Scheffert at second.
The Longhorns added all the insurance Knebel needed in the bottom of the eighth with five runs. Knebel walked the first two Huskers he faced in the top of the ninth, but then struck out the top of NU’s order to pick up his second save of the season.
The three-game series between the Huskers and Longhorns continues tomorrow at 1 p.m. Right-hander Christian DeLeon is scheduled to take the mound for Nebraska, while Texas is set to counter with lefty Dillon Peters.