Ohio State led 3-0 with runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Buckeyes then put down a squeeze bunt and on a delayed call, the home plate umpire ruled the Ohio State runner slid under the tag to give OSU its fourth run. A rundown then ensued between first and second. During the rundown, the Ohio State runner from third took off for home and Nebraska threw her out. Ohio State immediately argued the play with the home plate umpire, and the Huskers – who thought they had turned an inning-ending double play having thought the first runner was out at home prior to the delayed call – left the field.
Despite the argument involving the OSU coaches and the home plate umpire, play was allowed to continue and the original batter rounded the bases to score the Buckeyes’ fifth run, which proved to be the decisive run. After thinking they had turned an inning-ending double play and trailed only 3-0, the Huskers instead trailed 5-0 following a lengthy umpire meeting where both runs were allowed to stand.
Fueled by the controversial call and a fired-up Husker coaching staff, Nebraska rallied in the top of the seventh. Junior Kat Woolman began the inning with a double, and she scored on a one-out RBI single from freshman Laura Barrow. Junior Kiki Stokes then walked before sophomore MJ Knighten hit a towering three-run homer to center. Instead of potentially giving the Huskers the lead – or even tying the game – Knighten’s homer merely pulled Nebraska to within one, and the next two batters grounded out to end the comeback hopes.
Ohio State ace Olivia O’Reilly (10-6) earned the win after shutting out the Husker hitters for the first six innings. Junior right-hander Emily Lockman (11-10) took the loss for Nebraska, allowing five runs in 5.0-plus innings.
Despite the controversial loss, the Huskers took the series from the Buckeyes by sweeping a doubleheader on Saturday. Nebraska fell to 20-17 on the season with Sunday’s loss, dropping to 8-3 in Big Ten Conference play.
Knighten’s seventh-inning home run extended her hitting streak to 18 games. Barrow had Nebraska’s other RBI as part of a 2-for-2 day.
Neither team had a base runner until junior Mattie Fowler doubled with one out in the top of the third inning. Barrow followed with a walk, but the Huskers were unable to plate a run.
Ohio State then took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame. A leadoff single and an RBI plated the game’s first run.
The Huskers nearly tied the game in the top of the fourth. Pasquale began the inning with a walk before Muir singled. Freshman pinch runner Gina Metzler moved up to third and Muir advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from junior Alicia Armstrong. O’Reilly then delivered a pitcht hat got past the catcher and went all the way to the backstop, but unfortunately for Nebraska, the ball caromed back to the catcher, who threw to O’Reilly to get Metzler attempting to score. A fly out to center then ended the threat.
Ohio State added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth. A leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single gave the Buckeyes a 2-0 advantage.
Nebraska threatened in the top of the sixth when Knighten drew a leadoff walk and Pasquale followed with a single. But senior Kylee Muir flew out to deep left following a lengthy at bat, and the next two Husker hitters flew out on consecutive pitches to end the inning.
That set the stage for the prolonged bottom of the sixth inning, where Ohio State added just enough insurance runs for the win.
Nebraska returns to non-conference play on Tuesday, when the Huskers host the Drake Bulldogs in a doubleheader at Bowlin Stadium beginning at 5 p.m.