Adam Bailey had two hits, including his eighth homer of the year, but Texas Tech used a big fourth inning and clutch hitting to take the finale of the three-game series, 10-3, Sunday afternoon.
Bailey went 2-for-4 with a homer and scored twice, while Tyler Farst had two hits and drove in a pair of runs in a losing effort for NU (11-5-1, 1-2 Big 12), which built an early 2-0 lead and had a chance to extend the lead in the top of the fourth only to see the lead evaporate in the bottom of the frame.
Leading 2-0, the Huskers had a golden opportunity to extend their lead in the top of the fourth, putting the first two runners on base after a Cody Asche double and a walk to Kale Kiser. NU tried to sacrifice the runners, but Cory Burleson struck out before Kyle Bubak’s ground out advanced both runners into scoring position. DJ Belfonte hit a chopper that deflected off the glove of Texas Tech pitcher AJ Ramos, but shortstop Joey Kenworthy recovered the ball behind the mound and fired a strike to get Belfonte by a nose and end the threat.
“The key to the whole game is what happened in the fourth inning,” Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said. “We had runners on first and second with no outs and we had a chance to extend the lead and make it a different type of game. A two-run difference is important, but a three or-four run difference would have been really big and changes the way they do things offensively. They came out of that with momentum and scored some runs in that inning and that flipped the whole game around.”
Texas Tech took advantage and broke through against Nebraska starter Michael Mariot, scoring five times to chase the Husker right-hander. With two outs and a runner on third, pinch-hitter Logan Leslie doubled off the wall in right to plate the Red Raiders’ first run. Jeremy Mayo gave Texas Tech their first lead, getting a Mariot offering into the wind in left for a two-run shot that put Tech ahead 3-2. A single and two hit batters loaded the bases for the Red Raiders and ended Mariot’s afternoon. Sean Yost came out to get the Huskers out of the jam, but Chris Richburg’s two-run single to center capped the five-run uprising.
Mayo went 2-for-4 and with a pair of homers and four RBIs, while Richburg had four of the Red Raiders’ 14 hits and drove in a pair of runs. In fact, all 10 of Texas Tech’s runs came in two-out situations, as the Red Raiders went 10-for-18 with two outs.
“They had some momentum and it took one or two bad pitches and it got away from him (Mariot),” Anderson said. “We need to finish hitters and finish innings and we didn’t do that because Tech took care of things.”
Nebraska got one of the runs back in the top of the fifth, as Bailey opened the inning with his eighth homer of the season, a solo shot to left center to pull within 5-3. The Huskers continued to threaten, as a Nick Sullivan double and a walk to Jeff Tezak put two on with one out. Asche grounded out for the second out before Chad Bettis came in to replace Ramos and got pinch hitter Cade Thompson to ground out to end the inning.
Bettis (2-0) tossed 4.1 shutout innings for the win, fanning four and scattering three hits in relief for Texas Tech (8-10, 2-1 Big 12).
Tech responded quickly, putting two runs up in the fifth on Mayo’s second two-run homer of the day and tacked on three more runs over the next two innings for the final margin.
Early on, the Huskers jumped on Tech starter AJ Ramos, who had not allowed a run in his first three starts, pushing across runs in the first and third innings to take a 2-0 lead. In the first, Belfonte singled with one out and moved to second after Bailey was hit by a pitch. Farst then put the Huskers on the board, plating Belfonte with a single to left center.
Two innings later, Farst came though once again, as his second run-scoring single of the afternoon made it 2-0. Bailey singled with one out, stole second and scored as Farst, who saw his 11-game hit streak snapped on Saturday, slapped a 2-1 offering through the left side to plate Bailey.
The Huskers will now head to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in a two-game series beginning Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. The games will be carried on selected Husker Sports Network stations, including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln and KRVN 880 AM in Lexington, and on Huskers.com.