Peoria, Ariz. – The ninth inning was again unkind to the Nebraska baseball team, as the Gonzaga Bulldogs erased a 4-2 deficit with three runs in the top of the ninth to steal victory for the second straight game. After storming back with a five-run ninth inning on Saturday night, sophomore Marco Gonzales blasted a bases-clearing double to right center field that gave Gonzaga its first lead of the game at 5-4 and erased a solid outing from true freshman pitcher Kyle Kubat.
The Huskers didn’t go away without a fight in the bottom of the ninth, as freshman Blake Headley led off with his first hit of the season and Kale Kiser drew a one-out walk to give the Huskers runners at first and second, but reliever Derek Peterson retired Rich Sanguinetti and Austin Darby to end the Husker rally.
Kubat, a native of Waterloo, Neb., held the Zags scoreless on seven hits and notched one strikeout over five innings of work in the no decision. The Creighton Prep product showed veteran-like composure in the fourth, when Gonzaga started the inning with back-to-back singles and eventually had the bases loaded with two outs. Kubat continued to throw strikes on got out of the jam with a 5-3 groundout.
The loss also soured a 3-for-4 performance from sophomore designated hitter Michael Pritchard, who had three singles on the afternoon and one RBI. Chad Christensen also continued to swing a hot bat with a 2-for-3 day one RBI. The junior outfield ended the series going 6-for-11 with one home run and two RBI’s.
For the first time all series the Huskers took the first lead of the game with two runs in the bottom of the first. Kiser led off with a walk, but was caught stealing before Sanguinetti followed with another walk. Pritchard then collected his first RBI of the year with a single to right field and it looked like Sanguinetti would stop at third, but a throwing error from the Zag’s right fielder scored the Husker junior to give NU a 1-0 lead. Following a groundout from Kash Kalkowski, Christensen drove in Pritchard from second on a single to right field to give NU a 2-0 lead.
Nebraska would hold the Zags scoreless until the eighth inning when GU would cross the plate twice to cut the Husker lead in half at 4-2. Sophomore Brandon Peirce would start the top of the ninth with a strikeout, but the next three Gonzaga batters would reach on a pair of walks and a error by shortstop Kurt Farmer. Following Gonzales’ three-RBI double, Pierce would retire the next two batters on groundouts to stop the bleeding.
The Huskers will be back on the road next weekend when they head to Corpus Christi, Texas, for the Kleberg Bank College Classic at Whataburger Field. Nebraska will open play on Friday, Feb. 24, when it meets Utah from the Pac-12 Conference at 2 p.m. The Huskers will then play two games on Saturday when they face the Utes again at 3 p.m., before facing Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. NU will finish the weekend on Sunday against UNLV at 11 a.m.