Kubat handcuffs Hoosiers in 13-2 win
Chad Christensen, Kash Kalkowski and Josh Scheffert each had three hits and three RBIs as the Huskers (29-16, 9-7 Big Ten) outhit the Hoosiers, 16-5. Christensen, Scheffert and Richard Stock accounted for NU's three homers, while Kalkowski and Rich Sanguinetti each roped doubles.
In his first career conference start, Kubat put together his best game as a Husker with a career-high seven strikeouts over a career-high 6.2 innings of work. After giving up two runs on three hits in the first inning, Kubat found his rhythm and gave up just one hit and didn't allow a runner past second base over the next 5.2 innings. Of his seven strikeouts, Kubat punched out a pair of Hoosiers in each of the second, third and fourth innings.
Michael Pritchard extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a leadoff single in the sixth and can tie Curtis Ledbetter for the fourth-longest hitting streak in NU history since 1958 with a hit tomorrow.
The teams return to Sembower Field for the second game of the three-game series at 11 a.m. CDT Sunday. The game will be shown nationally on the Big Ten Network, with Brandon Pierce taking the mound for NU against Indiana's Kyle Hart.
The Huskers got on the board in the top of the first on a two-out solo home run by Christensen on the second pitch he saw from lefty Joey DeNato. The Hoosiers' starter had given up just one home run through 71.0 innings of work entering the game, and it was Christensen's first home run since March 17, after he hit six home runs in the first 20 games of the season.
DeNato lasted just 5.0 innings and was tagged for his second loss of the season, dropping his record to 7-2. He gave up eight runs on nine hits and three walks, which forced IU to dig into its bullpen early.
Indiana responded in the bottom of the first with a two-run homer from Sam Travis to give IU a 2-1 lead with one out. Micah Johnson followed with a double and Michael Basil reached on an error at short to keep the pressure on Kubat, but the freshman stayed composed and got Scott Dooney to ground into 6-4-3 double play to end the inning with minimal damage.
After Kubat sent the Hoosiers down in order in both the second and third, including four strikeouts, the Huskers pushed across seven runs in the top of the fourth to take a 8-2 lead.
Kalkowski led off the fourth with a single and scored when Stock followed with an opposite-field homer for his third dinger of the year to put the Huskers back out in front, 3-2. Scheffert then posted the Huskers' third straight hit to open the inning and Sagnuinetti reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt that catcher Kyle Schwarber couldn't handle in front of the plate. Pat Kelly put down a sacrifice bunt that moved Scheffert and Sanguinetti into scoring position, which paid off when Austin Darby lifted a deep fly ball to left field that scored Scheffert. With two out, DeNato couldn't find the strike zone and loaded the bases with walks to Kale Kiser and Pritchard, which set the table for Christensen to notch his 19th and 20th two-out RBIs of the season with a single up the middle. Kalkowski then came to the plate for the second time in the inning and drove in a pair of runs with a double to put the Huskers up 8-2.
Indiana coach Tracy Smith turned to reliever Walker Stadler to start the sixth, and the Huskers welcomed the righty with three straight singles from Pritchard, Christensen and Kalkowski. After Stadler retired Stock for the first out of the inning, Scheffert laced a line drive over the 370 sign in left field for a three-run home run to push NU's lead to 10 at 12-2.
NU added one more run in the top of the ninth on a two-out single by Darby that scored Sanguinetti, who scored from second after reaching on a double.
R H E --------------------------------------------------- Nebraska........... 1 0 0 7 0 4 0 0 1 - 13 16 1 Indiana............ 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 2 5 1 ---------------------------------------------------