A pair of home runs in the bottom of the eighth inning from Cory Burleson and Chad Christensen secured a 9-2 win for the Huskers in the first game of a four-game series with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Thursday afternoon in front of 2,414 fans at Hawks Field. Burleson earned his home run the hard way, as the Bulldogs' Sam Alvis missed the ball on a diving attempt in center field and the ball rolled all the way to the wall. It was the first inside-the-park home run by a Husker since Jake Mullinax hit one against West Virginia at the 2004 Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.
Christensen came up a double shy of the cycle with a 3-for-5 day, as he hit a single in the first, a triple in the fifth and a homer in the eighth to tie a career high with four RBI's. With team-highs in both home runs (4) and RBI's (23) this season, Christensen has 11 multi-hit games on the year, including four games with three hits.
After going a season-low 3.0 innings against Cal in his last start, sophomore Zach Hirsch bounced back with 5.1 innings of solid baseball on the mound for the Huskers to improve to 2-1 on the year. The lefty retired and first six Bulldogs he faced and gave up two runs on five hits, while striking out three and walking none. The trio of Dylan Vogt, Tyler King and Brandon Pierce pitched the final 3.2 innings and gave up just one hit, with Pierce earning his first save of the season.
The Huskers got Hirsch some support right away with a run in both the first and second innings. Michael Pritchard led off the bottom of the first with a double and came in to score the game's first run on Christensen's single. Austin Darby started the second inning the same way with a leadoff double and moved to third on a deep fly out from Burleson. Louisiana Tech's freshman starter Phil Maton then cost himself one run on a wild pitch that allowed Darby to score.
Louisiana Tech got its first hit of the game in the top of the third with a leadoff single by Alvis, who later scored on a two-out double by Bre'shon Kimbell. The Bulldogs tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth with a leadoff double from Stephen Gandy that was followed by a single from Alvis.
With the game tied going into the bottom of the fifth, the Huskers strung together three straight hits with one out to retake the lead. Rich Sanguinetti got the rally going with a single to right field and came around to score on Christensen's triple off the left field wall. Richard Stocked followed with a single to center on an 0-2 count to drive in Christensen for his 14th RBI of the year.
After adding an insurance run in the sixth to go up 5-2, the Huskers sealed the game with four runs in the eighth. Blake Headley led off the inning with his first hit of the game and came in to score on Burleson's inside the parker. Following a pair of outs, Sanguinetti kept the inning alive with a single, which allowed Christensen to blast a two-run shot in the left-center-field berm for his 12th and 13th two-out RBI's of the season.
The Huskers will go for their third straight win tomorrow when the two teams meet at 1:35 p.m. Jon Keller will take is 2-0 record to the mound for the Huskers, while the Bulldogs are set to send junior righty Trevor Petersen (1-1) to the bump. All kids eighth grade and younger will receive free admission into tomorrow's game.
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations