|Michigan Wolverines at Nebraska Huskers|
|W: James Bourque L: Dylan Vogt S: Matt Ogden|
LINCOLN, Neb. - After taking a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI triple by Chad Christensen, Nebraska gave up four runs of their own in the top of the seventh inning to lose to Michigan, 7-5 on Thursday night.
With the loss, Nebraska's chances for one of the top two seeds in the Big Ten tournament were drastically hurt on Thursday night – the top two seeds earn a first round bye.
"We are working with these guys on playing a whole game," said Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad, after seeing his team give up another lead late in the contest. "I'm concerned about how we go about our business and how we play. All that stuff (Big Ten race) doesn't matter. It's no different than game ten of the season and execution wise how we approach the game of baseball."
Nebraska starter Kyle Kubat, who was 4-0 coming into the game, gave up nine hits and two earned runs in six innings, before Nebraska turned to Dylan Vogt with a 5-3 lead.
Vogt struggled to find a rhythm brining a 2.96 ERA into the night. In two innings, the senior gave up five hits, four earned runs, seeing his ERA jump to 3.59.
"Dylan is a pitch to contact type of guy, but he has to be down in the zone," said Erstad. "He's had times this year where he's been up in the zone and he gets hit…he got behind on a couple guys 2-0 and they squared away on the baseball. When you get up in the zone, it doesn't matter who you are – you are going to get hit."
Nebraska had its chances in the bottom of the eighth and ninth inning, but couldn't push anything across – including runners on second and third with two outs in ninth. Blake Headly hit a hard line drive to the third baseline for the final out.
"Our guys know that if you continue to put guys on base and put pressure on people, things will happen. You are going to hit balls at people and it just didn't work out," said Erstad. "It's one of those things where you can't control where you hit, all you can control is if you put a good pass on it."
Game two of the three game series will be on Friday night at 6:35 p.m.
* Chad Christensen did knock in a run in the bottom of the fourth, but only went 1-for-5 in the game, leaving four runners on base..
• Luke Bublitz pitched a solid ninth inning for Nebraska, giving up only one hit and striking out two.
• Kyle Kubat, on short rest, gave up a home run in the first inning to the game's second batter. It was a shot that still might be going. But the sophomore settled down, striking out four and giving up no runs over the next three innings. Kubat looked "labored" according to Erstad in the sixth, but it was partly due to short rest.
* The second inning belonged to Pat Kelly. The sophomore made the last out in the top of the inning, fully extending on a ball hit up the middle to make a throw-out at first. In the bottom of the inning, Kelly had a 2-RBI base clearing triple, to help Nebraska take the early lead.
* What a difference a pitcher can make. Nebraska was putting it to Michigan's Trent Szkutnik – nine hits and five earned runs over 4.1 innings. The game might have changed when relief pitcher James Bourque hit the mound. Bourque went 3.2 innings, striking out six and giving up no runs on just two hits. He saw his ERA drop to 5.06 – somebody this season was tagging him?
* Thursday night's attendance was 3,977.
* Nebraska is still third in the Big Ten standings, behind Illinois and Ohio State. As long as every Big Ten game is played this weekend, Nebraska will at least make the Big Ten tournament. At the very worst, a 14-10 record would put Nebraska still in the Big tournament – the top six teams in the standings make the tourney. Nebraska still can actually get the No. 2 seed if: they win the next two games, Indiana takes their next two contests or Ohio State sweeps this weekend.