No. 7 Nebraska Tops Kansas State, 5-2

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. Nebraska’s Jake Opitz went 3-for-3 with three RBI to lead the Huskers to a 5-2 victory over Kansas State Saturday evening in the second round of pool play at the 2008 Big 12 Championship at Bricktown Ballpark.


With the win, Nebraska moved to 40-13-1 overall and improved to 1-1 in pool play. Kansas State dropped to an even 28-28 overall and 1-1 in the championship, but still remains in contention for Sunday’s title game.


Nebraska starter Johnny Dorn (6-1) was efficient in 6.2 innings, allowing two unearned runs on seven hits. Kansas State’s Chase Bayuk (1-5) was saddled with the loss, giving up three runs on five hits in 4.2 innings.


Opitz, who also scored two runs on the afternoon, broke open the game with a two-run home run, his eighth of the season, in the top of the seventh inning. Nebraska reliever, Zach Herr, came on in relief of Dorn in the bottom half of the frame and stuck out six of the 10 Wildcats he faced to record his fifth save.


K-State was led offensively with two-hit games from Rob Vaughn, Drew Biery and Justin Bloxom, who each recorded one double.


Bayuk avoided trouble early in the first inning as Jake Mort recorded a one-out single through the left side and then hit Opitz with the very next pitch, but forced a fly out and ground out to end the threat. The next half inning, Dorn countered Bayuk’s tenacity as Kansas State who stranded 14 in the game had runners on first and third with just one out. But, Dorn coaxed a fly out and a ground out to end another early scoring opportunity.


Following a scoreless second, the Huskers pushed across two runs in the third. Jake Opitz followed back-to-back singles by Bryce Nimmo and Mort with a double to right field, which scored Nimmo. Mitch Abeita then hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate another run and give Nebraska a 2-0 lead.


The Wildcats tied the game with two runs in the fourth as a two-out double by Vaughn put runners on second and third for Dane Yelovich. The junior outfielder hit a ground ball to Morth at third, but Mort let the ball go between his legs, which allowed both runners to score. The damage could have been worse, however, as Dorn hit Derek Bunker and walked Brett Scott to load the bases, but the righty struck out Nate Tenbrink to keep the game knotted at two.


Nebraska took a 3-2 lead with one run in the fifth when Opitz hit a one out single to left center field on a 2-2 pitch, which knocked Bayuk out of the game. Todd Vogel came on in relief and gave up two-consecutive base hits, the latter by Tyler Farst, to score Opitz and put the Huskers on top for good.


Kansas State’s final game of pool play is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. first pitch Saturday at Bricktown Ballpark.