Lincoln - The Nebraska baseball team (15-8, 0-0 Big Ten) was unable to overcome a four-run eighth inning by the Northern Colorado Bears on a rainy Wednesday afternoon at Hawks Field, resulting in a 6-4 loss and a split of the two-game series. The Huskers took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run pinch-hit home run from Pat Kelly to go up 3-2, but the NU bullpen was unable to hold onto the win.
Kelly's third home run his in past five games came after a one-out double from Kash Kalkowski and it was the second pinch-hit home run by a Husker this season after Josh Scheffert hit one against South Dakota State. Kelly leads the team with a .457 batting average (16-for-39), while producing three doubles, one triple, three home runs and 12 RBI's on the year.
The momentum looked to be in the Huskers' favor after Luke Bublitz shutout the Bears in the top of the seventh for the second straight inning and the first two Huskers in the bottom of the frame reached on a leadoff walk from Michael Pritchard and a single by Rich Sanguinetti. The Bears then went to Chris Hammer, who ended the Huskers' rally with three straight outs.
The top of the eight started out fine for NU with a leadoff fly out from Adrian Schenk, but the next seven Bears reached base on four singles and three walks to plate four runs.
With a 6-3 lead, Hammer sent the Huskers down in order in the eighth and allowed his first base runner when he hit Bryan Peters to lead off the ninth. After a groundout from Pritchard moved Peters to second, Sanguinetti singled to center to score Peters and reached second on a fielding error by the Bears' center fielder. Hammer regained his composure and retired Chad Christensen and Scheffert in order to close out the game.
The Husker now turn their attention to the Illinois Fighting Illini, who visit Hawks Field this weekend for a three-game series that starts on Friday at 6:35 p.m. It will be Nebraska's first ever Big Ten Conference game and to celebrate, fans will be treated to fireworks after the game. Due to the fireworks, the lot behind right field will not be open. Fans are encouraged to get to the game early due to the parking adjustment.
Nebraska is scheduled to start junior right-hander Tom Lemke on Friday night, while Illinois will send junior righty Kevin Johnson to the mound.