IOWA CITY — Nebraska senior Kash Kalkowski hit his first home run of the season to highlight a four-run first inning as the Huskers cruised to a 12-5 victory at Iowa on Friday night.
NU jumped ahead early and never lost control against the Hawkeyes (11-13, 1-6 Big Ten), winning its fifth straight conference game.
The Huskers (12-16, 6-1) have totaled at least 10 hits in every league contest so far, with a team batting average of .350. They had 13 hits Friday.
Sophomore catcher Tanner Lubach drove in four runs, including three on a bases-clearing double in the fifth, while senior outfielder Rich Sanguinetti tied a career-high with four hits.
“I tip my hat to our guys. They were ready to play,” NU coach Darin Erstad said. “(I saw) a businesslike attitude in batting practice. … Our guys had a challenge in front of them and they answered.”
The offensive production proved to be enough for junior right-hander Christian DeLeon, who escaped trouble early and found a rhythm midway through.
DeLeon gave up four hits in the first two innings, but left five Hawkeyes stranded. He allowed two runs in the third, but wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam. DeLeon then kept Iowa hitless until the sixth.
Erstad said DeLeon struggled early in the game to finish hitters off, but eventually established a tempo on the mound. He struck out five in six innings.
“After we got a pretty nice-sized lead there, he came out and he shut the door,” Erstad said.
It was a much-needed bounce-back effort from DeLeon, the junior college transfer from Richmond, Texas, who had allowed 12 runs and 19 hits in 1113 innings during his first two Big Ten starts. His ERA in nonconference starts was 1.91.
Iowa did finish the game with 13 hits, but the Hawkeyes left 12 runners on base. They were 4 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
Nebraska, on the other hand, found a way to get some clutch hits off Iowa starter Sasha Kuebel, a second-team All-Big Ten performer as a freshman in 2012.
Sanguinetti led the game off with a double, and he scored when No. 2 hitter Pat Kelly singled to right-center field. Four batters later, Kalkowski put Nebraska up 4-0 when he blasted a two-out, three-run homer.
Lubach’s three-run double in the fifth effectively sealed the win. With two outs in the inning, Lubach guided the first pitch he saw from Kuebel into right field.
“Just a huge, huge approach and at-bat,” Erstad said.
The teams will play again at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.