RUSTON, La. — Nebraska was shut out for the third time this season in a 5-0 series-opening loss at Louisiana Tech Friday.
The Huskers (4-8) managed five singles on the evening, unable to figure out Louisiana Tech sophomore starter Phil Maton.
Maton, who'd allowed one run in 1813 innings coming into Friday's game, struck out eight in seven innings. He actually did give the NU hitters a couple chances to start rallies, but the Huskers never could take advantage.
“Our whole offense is based on putting pressure on people and having guys on base, and there's some things we need to fix,” NU coach Darin Erstad said during a postgame radio interview. “Obviously, it's not going how we want to. It's on us coaches to get it right.
Nebraska had one runner advance past second base Friday, but the team was retired in order only twice. Of its seven at-bats with a runner in scoring position, six came with two outs. Sophomore Austin Darby was the only Husker who recorded a hit in that situation — it came in the fifth, but the inning ended with sophomore Blake Headley stranded at third.
That ended up being NU's best scoring chance.
The Huskers, who were among the national leaders in several offensive categories in 2012, dropped their team batting average to .242. They're averaging 3.6 runs per game.
Maton had a lot to do with the struggles Friday, though.
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The right-hander was a Louisville Slugger freshman All-American last year, recording a 2.93 ERA and striking out 79 in 89 innings.
In 25.1 innings this season, Maton already has 31 strikeouts. With two outs and a runner on second base, he froze a Husker with a called third strike three times (in the first, third and sixth innings).
Nebraska starter Ryan Hander wasn't as deceptive.
The senior right-hander loaded the bases with one out in the third inning. And after throwing two strikes to start Ryan Gebhardt's at-bat, Hander ended up walking the shortstop to put Louisiana Tech up 1-0. Senior second baseman Taylor Terrasas then smacked the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for a three-run double.
“He competed pretty well,” Erstad said of Hander. “Just a four-run inning, backed up by a one-run inning and there's your ball game.”
Nebraska and Louisiana Tech will conclude their series with a doubleheader Saturday. The action is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Nebraska (4-8) ................ 000 000 000 – 0 5 1
Louisiana Tech (4-10) ..... 004 100 00X – 5 8 1
W: Maton, 3-0. L: Hander, 0-2. 2B: LT, Terrasas (4), Burch (2).