Just three days after getting beat by Michigan 19-9 to lose their last regular season home series, the Nebraska Cornhuskers bounced back against the Wolverines in the first round of the Big Ten baseball tournament, 11-2 on Wednesday.
A day after attending his grandma's funeral, Nebraska sophomore pitcher Kyle Kubat threw seven innings of shutout baseball, striking out six, and not giving up a hit until the seventh inning. The Omaha product improved to 5-0 on the season dropping his ERA below 2.00.
“Kyle threw tremendous. That kind of team it's huge to get lead on them because it's a track meet for them,” said Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad on the Huskers Sports Network after the game. “You get a lead on them and it slows down their base-running a little bit.
“It starts on the mound, Kyle did a fantastic job and we played great defense. We had a good approach at the plate and that's something we have shown at times we can do – now we have to be consistent with that.”
Michigan starting pitcher James Bourque, who had found success against the Huskers over the weekend, was tagged with five earned runs, walking six batters in just 4 1/3 innings.
The Huskers biggest momentum from the plate came from sophomore Austin Darby in the fifth inning. The outfielder had a two-run double off the right-field wall, making the score 4-0. Darby on the day had four runs batted in.
“Austin has struggled a little bit over the last month of the season, but he's still swinging the bat pretty well against right-handers, so it was great to see him get that hit off of a lefty,” said Erstad after the contest.
With a long road a head of them if they want to win the tournament, Nebraska was able to save their top two bullpen pitchers in the blowout.
“That was huge,” said Erstad. “I think it's safe to say we have a few guys we are going to ride and anytime we can get that type of starting pitching and save some bullets, it's going to be huge. It was a big deal for us.”
Nebraska will play tenatively at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Huskers will send Aaron Bummer to the mound. On the season the pitcher has a 3-1 record with a 2.49 ERA in seven starts and 15 appearances. Nebraska dropped two of three against the Buckeyes in their only regular season series.
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