FULLERTON, Calif. — Nebraska reliever Josh Roeder couldn’t wiggle out of an 11th-inning jam at Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday night, walking in the winning run in a heartbreaking 8-7 loss.
The eighth-ranked Titans (17-3) didn’t get a hit in the 11th, yet managed to beat the Huskers for the third time this season.
Roeder, who hadn’t allowed a run before Tuesday, hit a batter and walked two others to load the bases in the 11th. He was one strike away from pushing the game into the 12th, but his 3-2 pitch just missed, ending the game.
The Huskers (6-12) are now 1-5 in one-run games this year, and they have lost three of those in walk-off fashion.
“When you’re playing quality teams, especially, (the mistakes) are going to get exposed,” NU coach Darin Erstad said on the Husker Sports Network.
The Huskers lined into a couple double plays, failed to execute a sacrifice bunt in the 11th and twice allowed a run to cross the plate without giving up a hit on the play Tuesday.
Their offense did give them a chance, though. They totaled a season-high 14 hits on an evening when they made significant changes to the top of their batting order.
Junior Michael Pritchard moved out of the leadoff spot and into the 3-hole and sophomore Pat Kelly hit second for the first time this year. Senior Chad Christensen batted clean-up for the first time this year, too.
The new look produced early results.
Nebraska took a 4-0 lead in the second inning, igniting the spurt with three straight singles to start the frame and benefiting from two errors on Fullerton shortstop Ricky Pedroza.
Junior right-hander Luke Bublitz didn’t hold that lead, though. He allowed just one baserunner during the first two innings, but when two Titans reached scoring position with two outs in the third, he couldn’t get out of the jam. After surrendering a two-run single, Bublitz walked the next two batters before center fielder Michael Lorenzen knocked another two-run single into right field to tie it at 4.
Sophomore Aaron Bummer used double plays to escape trouble in the fifth and the sixth innings. But he hit Lorenzen with the bases loaded in the seventh, giving Fullerton a 7-6 lead.
The Huskers answered right back.
Sophomore Austin Darby led off the eighth inning with a single, stole second and took third on a throwing error by catcher Jared Deacon. Scheffert drove Darby in with a single, pulling Nebraska even again at 7.
But NU needed one more clutch hit to pull off the upset. And the Huskers didn’t get it.
Senior Rich Sanguinetti made it to third base with two outs in the ninth, but sophomore Austin Darby grounded out. Sanguinetti led off the top of the 11th with a single, but after two teammates struck out, the NU center-fielder was gunned down trying to steal second base.
“We had multiple chances,” Erstad said.
Fullerton sophomore Tyler Peitzmeier, who’s from Yutan, Neb., pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday night.
The teams will play again at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Nebraska (6-12) ................ 040 110 010 00—7 14 0
Cal State Fullerton (17-3) .. 004 200 100 01—8 14 5
W: Lopez, 1-0. L: Roeder, 0-1. 2B: NU, Pritchard (2), CSF, Davis (3). 3B: CSF, Kingsolver (1).