After facing a 4-0 deficit following the top of the first inning, the Nebraska offense lit up the scoreboard in a 14-5 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats on Tuesday night at Hawks Field. The Huskers amassed a season-high 22 hits as five NU batters registered three hits or more on the evening, while matching a season-best in runs. The Huskers have won nine of their last 10 games and are now 24-14 on the season.
Nebraska’s first three batters went a combined 12-for-14 on the night, including a 5-for-5 performance from Michael Pritchard, the senior’s first career five-hit game. Freshman leadoff hitter Ryan Boldt chipped in his third four-hit game of the year, while Jake Placzek, Ben Miller and Blake Headley each produced three hits. Five Huskers tallied doubles on the night, including two from Headley, while Tanner Lubach launched his third homer of the season with a two-run shot in the fifth.
Pritchard notched four singles and a double on the night and is 13-for-25 in his last six games, while raising his average 45 points from .261 to .306.
Nebraska’s 22 hits were the most by an NU offense since it notched 24 hits in a 22-3 win over Louisiana Tech at Hawks Field on March 16, 2012.
While Nebraska’s offense was scoring runs, the NU bullpen silenced KSU’s bats that scored a combined 22 runs in the first two meetings this year. Four NU relievers combined to give up one run on six hits over the final 8.0 innings of the game, with the lone run scoring on a wild pitch. Sophomore Colton Howell earned his first career win in 3.0 innings of relief, allowing one run on three hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts.
Along with Howell, Bob Greco pitch 3.0 scoreless innings of relief, while Zach Hirsch tossed a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts and freshman Max Knutson ended the game with a scoreless ninth inning.
After falling behind 4-0, the Huskers answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, starting with three straight singles from Boldt, Placzek and Pritchard. Boldt scored on a Pritchard single and Pat Kelly drove in the second run for the Huskers with a sacrifice fly. Nebraska evened the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the third on a RBI single by Kelly and a double-play ball off the bat of Austin Darby.
The Wildcats retook the lead, 5-4, in the top of the fourth on a wild pitch by Howell, but NU answered in the bottom of the frame with a pair of runs to take the lead for good. After Boldt scored on a balk to tie the game, Pritchard laid down a two-out bunt single and Placzek scored on the play to put the Huskers ahead, 6-5.
After Greco set the Wildcats down in order in the top of the fifth, the Huskers pushed their lead to five with four runs on five hits to take a 10-5 lead through five innings. Lubach blasted his third home run of the year over the wall in left to give NU an 8-5 lead, while Boldt and Placzek added RBI singles after Headley doubled.
NU put up another four-spot in the bottom of the eighth on four hits, including back-to-back-to-back doubles with two outs. Quinn McGill started the rally by notching a pinch hit, two-RBI double off the left-field wall, before Lubach followed with his second extra-base hit of the game and Headley stroked his second double of the game.
The Huskers continue their five game homestand tomorrow night when they host the Omaha Mavericks at 6:35 p.m.