Nebraska Edges K-State in Conference Opener

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State had the tying and go-head runs on base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Nebraska closer Erik Anderson forced pinch hitter Tyler Ruch into a fly out to right for the game’s final out as Nebraska took game one of the conference opening series, 2-1, Friday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium. With the loss, Kansas State evens its season record at 7-7 and drops to 0-1 in Big 12 play. Nebraska improved to 12-2 and is now 1-0 in conference action.


With the score tied at 1-1 going into the ninth inning, K-State reliever Lance Hoge (0-1) issued a leadoff walk to Husker catcher Mitch Abeita. Abeita moved from first to third on two pitches as Bryce Nimmo hit a sacrifice bunt on the first pitch he saw, and Hoge threw a wild pitch on his first delivery to Craig Corriston. The wild throw by Hoge would be his last pitch as Edwards came on to try to halt Nebraska’s scoring opportunity. But, on a 1-2 pitch from Edwards, Corriston hit a sacrifice fly to straight-away centerfield, which was deep enough to score Abeita for the eventual winning run.


K-State had its chance in the ninth to tie the game, however. Nebraska pitcher Zach Herr (1-0) stuck out Justin Bloxom to leadoff the bottom of the night and gave the game to Anderson for a chance to earn his second save of the season. Biery was the first to face Anderson and walked on four straight pitches. Derek Bunker, who came into the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, struck out for the second out of the inning. Things then got interesting as Anderson threw a wild pitch, which allowed Biery to move to third, and then walked Rob Vaughn on a full count. Ruch entered the game as a pinch hitter for Carter Jurica, but flied out on a 0-2 pitch to end K-State’s chance at a ninth-inning rally.


Both starting pitchers were brilliant in seven innings of work, each giving up one run in their final inning. Kansas State’s Brad Hutt surrendered his runs on just five hits and stuck out four, throwing 107 pitches. At one point, he retired 10-of-11 batters from the second through the fifth innings before a hit-by-pitch to begin the sixth. Furthermore, none of the five hits he allowed were for extra bases.


Nebraska’s Johnny Dorn allowed four Wildcat base hits and stuck out five as he threw 106 pitches. He held K-State hitless through the first four-plus innings before Biery hit a single through the right side with one out in the fifth. Both Herr and Anderson were dominate in relief as the duo combined for three innings of no-hit ball.


Nebraska scored the game’s first run in the top of the seventh as Nimmo and Corriston led the inning off with back-to-back singles. With runners on first and third, Hutt struck out Nick Sullivan for the first out of the inning, but Corriston stole second base on the strikeout. David Stewart pinch hit for the designated hitter Cody Neer, who was 0-for-2 in his first two at-bats. The move paid off for Nebraska as Stewart lined out to centerfielder Dane Yelovich, but his throw to the plate was not in time as Nimmo tagged up and scored.


Kansas State answered the Nebraska score in the bottom half of the inning as Bloxom turned on an inside pitch and blasted off the rightfield wall for a leadoff double. He then moved to third on a wild pitch before Bunker grounded out to first. With two outs in the inning and a 0-2 count, Vaughn singled to right centerfield to bring in Bloxom and tie the game at one.


Game two of the conference-opening series between Kansas State and Nebraska is set for Saturday with a 2 p.m. first pitch at Tointon Family Stadium.