Watson strong in season-opening win

Arlington, Texas – All-American Tony Watson scattered four hits over six innings, while junior college transfer Craig Corriston drove in three runs in his Husker debut, leading No. 7 Nebraska to a 6-2 victory over New Mexico at the UTA Hilton Invitational Friday afternoon.

Watson (1-0) overcame a rocky start to throw six solid innings, allowing one run on four hits for the victory. The left-hander struck out four and didn't allow a hit after the second, retiring 12 in a row at one point. Watson fanned four en route to picking up his second straight opening-day win.

"Our pitching pitched well today," Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. We had a couple of mental errors that hopefully won't happen when we are 10 games into the season. I'm pleased, but there is a lot to learn and a lot to get better on."

Anderson said that Watson's strong performance in the third inning turned the tide, as he needed only seven pitches after throwing 42 over the first two frames.

"Our first two innings were bad, both offensively and on the mound," Anderson said. "Tony did a good job in the third with a seven-pitch inning that changed momentum and that helped us tremendously."

"That was a big inning for us," Watson said. "The first two innings were long and our guys were on the field for a while. We were able to get through the inning quickly and it gave us a spark It was the turning point of the game,"

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third, the Huskers took the lead for good on a two-run single by Corriston, scoring Jeff Lanning and DJ Belfonte. Lanning doubled to right with one out before Belfonte's infield single to put runners on the corners. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position before Corriston sent a 2-2 pitch into center to get the Huskers on the board.

"Corriston had a good day for us" Anderson said. "He clutched up on the base hit with two outs in the third that got us on top. Without that, it is probably a different game."

The Lobos, who got an RBI single in the first from Daniel Stovall and threatened in each the first two frames, were held in check by the Husker left-hander, who didn't allow another baserunner until surrendering consecutive two-out walks in the sixth.

By then, the damage was done, as the Huskers had built a 5-1 cushion, scoring two more runs in the fourth and adding another in the fifth of UMN starter Ryan Escarcega, who allowed five runs on seven hits over five frames in dipping to 0-1 on the year.

In the fourth, the Huskers needed just two hits to plate a pair of runs off the Lobos (2-4). A single by Jake Opitz and a double by Andy Gerch put a pair of Huskers in scoring position. A passed ball scored the first run before Jeff Tezak plated NU's second run with a well-placed safety squeeze.

NU put together a two-out rally in the fifth, as Bryce Nimmo singled and advanced to second on an error before scoring on Corriston's second hit of the afternoon, an RBI double to left.  Corriston went 2-for-3 with a walk on the day.

The Huskers tacked on an insurance run in the sixth, as back-to-back doubles by Tezak and Thad Webber gave NU a five-run lead.

New Mexico made a charge in the ninth, scoring a run off of reliever Steve Edlefsen and had the bases loaded before Erik Bird came in and struck out Stovall to collect his first save.

The Huskers return to action again tonight at 7 p.m., as they take on New Mexico in the second game of today's day-night doubleheader.

Nebraska 6 (1-0), New Mexico 2 (2-4)
             Feb 16, 2007 at Arlington, Texas (Clay Gould Ballpark)

New Mexico                AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
FOOTE, Matt cf...........  4  1  2  0   1  1  3  0   0
RUSSELL, Jay lf..........  5  0  2  1   0  0  1  0   1
PACHECO, Jordan 2b.......  3  0  0  0   1  0  1  2   2
STOVALL, Daniel 1b.......  5  0  1  1   0  2  6  2   3
HOLLICK, Ian 3b..........  3  0  0  0   1  0  0  2   0
HIBBITTS, Matt dh........  3  0  0  0   1  1  0  0   0
MCDONALD, Drew c.........  3  0  0  0   0  2  9  0   5
 HAMILTON, Dane ph.......  1  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
COURCHA, Adam rf.........  3  0  0  0   0  1  1  0   0
 ROCKEY, Mark ph.........  1  0  0  0   0  1  0  0   0
GRACEY, Scott ss.........  1  1  0  0   2  0  1  2   0
ESCARCEGA, Ryan p........  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  2   0
 HILL, Brian p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  1  0   0
Totals................... 32  2  5  2   6  8 24 10  11

Nebraska                  AB  R  H RBI BB SO PO  A LOB
Nimmo, Bryce cf..........  5  1  1  0   0  2  3  0   4
Corriston, Craig 3b......  3  0  2  3   1  0  0  4   0
Wehrle, Ryan ss..........  3  0  0  0   1  1  2  7   0
Opitz, Jake 2b...........  4  1  2  0   0  1  1  3   2
Gerch, Andy lf...........  4  1  1  0   0  1  0  0   1
Tezak, Jeff dh...........  3  1  1  1   0  2  0  0   0
Weber, Thad 1b...........  3  0  1  1   1  2 11  0   0
Lanning, Jeff c..........  3  1  1  0   1  0  9  0   0
Belfonte, DJ rf..........  2  1  1  0   2  0  1  0   0
Watson, Tony p...........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Harmelink, Mike p.......  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Bowman, Drew p..........  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Edlefsen, Steve p.......  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
 Bird, Erik p............  0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0
Totals................... 30  6 10  5   6  9 27 14   7

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
New Mexico.......... 100 000 001 -  2  5  1
Nebraska............ 002 211 00X -  6 10  3

E - COURCHA; Opitz, J. 2; Lanning, J.. DP - Lobos 2; Huskers 2. LOB - Lobos
11; Huskers 7. 2B - FOOTE; Corriston, C; Opitz, J.; Gerch, A.; Tezak, J.;
Weber, T.; Lanning, J.. HBP - PACHECO; GRACEY. SH - Tezak, J.. SB - GRACEY.

New Mexico             IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF  NP
ESCARCEGA, Ryan.....  5.0  7  5  3  3  5 18 22  95
HILL, Brian.........  3.0  3  1  1  3  4 12 15  57

Nebraska               IP  H  R ER BB SO AB BF  NP
Watson, Tony........  6.0  4  1  1  4  4 21 25  93
Harmelink, Mike.....  1.0  0  0  0  0  1  4  5  20
Bowman, Drew........  1.0  0  0  0  0  1  3  3  14
Edlefsen, Steve.....  0.2  1  1  1  2  1  3  6  27
Bird, Erik..........  0.1  0  0  0  0  1  1  1   -

Win - Watson, T. (1-0).  Loss - ESCARCEGA (0-1).  Save - Bird, E. (1).
WP - ESCARCEGA. HBP - by Harmelink (GRACEY); by Edlefsen, S. (PACHECO). PB -
MCDONALD. Inherited runners/scored: Edlefsen, S. 2/0; Bird, E. 3/0.
Pitches/strikes: ESCARCEGA 95/55; HILL 57/27; Watson, T. 93/54; Harmelink 20/9;
Bowman, D. 14/9; Edlefsen, S. 27/13.
Umpires - HP: Cale Smith  1B: Dale Luker  2B: Tim McLester
Start: 11:30a.m   Time: 2:45   Attendance:

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