IRVINE, Calif. — Nebraska had the game’s potential tying run on second base with no outs in the ninth inning, but the Huskers couldn’t capitalize on the scoring chance, losing 2-1 at UC Irvine Friday night.
The Husker offense didn’t have much success against Irvine’s ace, Andrew Thurman, yet Rich Sanguinetti led off the ninth inning with a single and advanced to second base on an error. But after Chad Christensen fouled off two bunt attempts, the NU left fielder bounced a grounder to shortstop Chris Rabago, who gunned down Sanguinetti at third base for the inning’s first out.
Senior third baseman Josh Scheffert ended the game by tapping into a double play.
It was the third straight one-run contest for the Huskers (5-10). They’re 1-4 in one-run games this year.
“I think we had more opportunities than they actually did to score (Friday),” NU coach Darin Erstad said in a postgame radio interview. “It’s tough right now because that big hit’s eluding us.”
Especially in the fourth inning, when the Huskers put runners on second and third with one out. Sophomore outfielder Austin Darby struck out and sophomore second baseman Pat Kelly grounded out.
That was the only time Friday that NU had more than one runner on base, though.
Thurman, an All-Big West first-teamer last year, was in a groove from the start Friday, throwing his first complete game of the season for UC Irvine (14-4). The junior right-hander struck out 11.
But Nebraska’s new ace, Christian DeLeon, found a way to give the Huskers a chance.
DeLeon found a rhythm after some early trouble in the first Friday night start of his career. He loaded the bases in the first inning, then hit a batter and gave up a sacrifice fly. But DeLeon went 613 innings, striking out two and allowing eight hits. He didn’t try to do too much, Erstad said.
“Let the defense work behind you. They made some great plays (for DeLeon),” Erstad said. “He just kept competing.”
Nebraska trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the sixth inning when junior Michael Pritchard led off with a double and scored on Christensen’s sacrifice fly.
The teams played through heavy fog for a good portion of Friday’s game. The weather conditions were discussed before the game and midway through, but Erstad said the umpires “didn’t seem to think it was that bad.”
The Anteaters and Huskers will meet again at 3 p.m. CDT Saturday.
Nebraska (5-10) ........................... 000 001 000—1 5 1
At UC Irvine (14-4) ........................... 200 000 00x—2 9 2
W: Thurman, 2-2. L: DeLeon, 1-2. 2B: NU, Pritchard (1). 3B: UCI, Taylor (2).