Published Friday, April 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm / Updated at 10:38 pm
BASEBALL
Hitters break loose in fifth; Huskers hammer Buckeyes
NOTES
>> Junior left-hander Zach Hirsch broke a bone in his non-throwing arm in practice this week. He may not be available to return this year.

>> Sophomore Austin Darby’s 15-game hit streak ended Friday, but sophomore Michael Pritchard and senior Rich Sanguinetti each extended their hitting streaks to 12 games.

>> Erstad said Friday’s win was “by far the most complete game we’ve played.”

LINCOLN — The reaction was the same in the Nebraska dugout Friday after each of the three double plays in the first four innings that kept the Huskers from taking command.

“The big inning will come,” coach Darin Erstad told his players, who kept trying to encourage one another between at-bats. No reason to panic or press.

The patience paid off in the fifth inning, when NU (14-17, 8-2 Big Ten) knocked Ohio State’s ace out of the game by scoring six times to build its lead from 3-2 to 9-2. The Huskers cruised to an 11-2 win, moving into a tie for first place in the conference with Indiana (26-5, 8-2).

“If you keep hitting it hard like that, (the big inning) will come. And it did,” said senior Kash Kalkowski, who had two doubles and four RBIs Friday.

It was a different story a month ago. Squandering scoring opportunities seemed to be a recurring theme for Nebraska in March, when six of its eight losses were by one or two runs.

Bunting was inconsistent. Strikeout totals mounted. Clutch hits weren’t coming often enough.

So the Huskers recommitted themselves to their basic hitting strategy: driving pitches on the outside part of the plate to the opposite field, while occasionally turning on off-speed mistakes inside.

It was key to their success Friday against Jaron Long, whose cutter and sinker can easily result in weak grounders when batters get too aggressive, Erstad said.

“If you don’t have a good approach against him, he’ll make you roll over all day long,” Erstad said.

Long did get those three double plays, limiting the damage in the first, third and fourth.

But Kalkowski followed his coach’s advice in the fifth, capitalizing on another opportunity by driving an elevated fastball into the right-field gap for a two-run double. After three singles and two more runs scored, the day ended for Long. He had averaged 623 innings per start.

The Huskers, now 8-0 at home this year, had 15 hits — 13 of which were served up the middle or to the opposite side of the field. Not counting the double plays, they had seven hits in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position, including two sacrifice bunts and three sacrifice flies.

“Guys just put constant pressure on him from the get-go,” Erstad said. “We had an opportunity to score some more runs, but that’s hitting. You’re not going to get them in every time. But you continue to do that and have base runners, you’re going to get through.”

NU starter Christian DeLeon did the rest.

After giving up 15 runs in his previous three starts, the right-hander scattered eight hits in eight innings against the Buckeyes (21-11, 5-5). He threw 87 pitches, relying heavily on a change-up that he’s refined since joining the squad last fall from Blinn (Texas) Community College.

DeLeon gave up two solo home runs, but he finished in a groove, retiring 12 of the last 14 he faced. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out five.

“I just try to attack the strike zone,” he said. “I could locate my fastball, especially on the outside of the zone. And my change-up was working pretty well, too.”

Contact the writer:

402-473-9585, jon.nyatawa@owh.com, twitter.com/JonNyatawa

Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa

jon.nyatawa@owh.com    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >