Clinton McKeever’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 7-all tie, as Wichita State pulled out a 9-7 victory over Nebraska Tuesday night at Eck Stadium.
McKeever, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, sent an 0-1 pitch from Mike Nesseth through the hole between third and short, scoring Mitch Caster and Tyler Grimes with the winning runs for the Shockers.
Caster opened the eighth with a single and got to third with two outs before a controversial play kept the inning alive. On a 3-2 pitch, Nesseth threw a pitch that was originally ruled a fall ball, but was changed by home plate umpire Terry Harrison after discussions with Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson, putting Grimes on base. After a hit batter, McKeever’s single gave the Shockers the victory in a game that saw five lead changes on the evening.
Nebraska Coach Mike Anderson said that the Huskers’ slow start proved costly, as they had to battle back after allowing five runs in the first inning after taking a 2-0 lead.
“We didn’t start well and finish well, but the finish was the most important part,” Anderson said. “Our competiveness was good, but we have to be smart both physically and mentally. Obviously, I am disappointed in the changed call.”
Jed Hanson and Jake Mort both homered for Nebraska (16-11-1), while Kyle Bubak had two hits and scored twice in a losing effort for the Husker
Nebraska got off to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first against Wichita State starter Brian Flynn, getting a Jeff Tezak RBI single and a sacrifice fly from Tyler Farst. Bubak opened the game with a single before moving into scoring position on a Mort sacrifice. Tezak then slapped a 2-0 pitch through the left side for a run-scoring single before Farst lofted a sacrifice fly to center to give NU a two-run lead.
The lead would be short-lived as NU starter Joe Broekemeier struggled with his control in his first start and allowed four runs before retiring a batter, as the Shockers scored five times. A single and two walks loaded the bases before the Husker right-hander hit McKeever to push across a run. Chris O’Brien than cleared the bases with three-run double to left to make it 4-0 and end Broekemeier’s night after 19 pitches. With two outs, Andrew Letourneau made it a 5-2 game, scoring O’Brien with a single to right.
The Huskers roared right back in the top of the second, dialing long distance for a pair of homers from Hanson and Mort to tie the score at five. Hanson opened the frame with a line shot over the fence in left center for his third homer in as many starts. With two outs, Bubak singled and strolled home, as Mort launched a two-run shot that landed beyond the pavilion in left center.
The Shockers regained the lead in the bottom of the third by manufacturing a unearned run. With one out, Cody Lassley legged out an infield single and stole second, but the wide throw from Hanson skipped off Ben Kline’s glove and allowed Lassley to reach third. Bird struck out Josh Rosecrans, but the pitch was in the dirt and skipped away, allowing Lassley to score.
Nebraska continued to fight back, pushing across another run to tie the score at six. Kline coaxed a one-out walk before coming around to score on Khiry Cooper’s RBI double off the wall in left.
The teams then traded runs, as each team took advantage of the other’s miscues. In the fifth, Ryan Jones singled before an errant pickoff attempt allowed him to move to third. McKeever then lined an RBI double to left center to put the Shockers ahead.
Nebraska got the run back in the sixth, getting an unearned run to even the score at seven. Nick Sullivan coaxed a leadoff walk before Cody Neer singled to put runners on first and second. Kline laid down a sacrifice bunt which Lassley threw down the line in right. The ball skipped into the Shocker bullpen, allowing Sullivan to score. Anderson argued that Neer advanced far enough to score, but was overruled by Harrison, and that proved costly. Cooper than struck out pinch hitter Cody Asche and Bubak before getting Mort to ground out to end the inning, setting up a wild finish in the eighth.
The Huskers return home to begin an eight-game homestand on Friday night, as they begin a three-game series with Kansas State. First pitch for the first night game at Hawks Field this season is slated for 6:05 p.m. and will be carried on the IMG Husker Sports Network and on Huskers.com.
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations