MANHATTAN, Kan. — Senior catcher Tanner Lubach delivered the game-winning single in the 10th inning, his fifth hit on the night, and No. 23 Nebraska defeated Kansas State 5-4 Hiesday.
Lubach had singled twice, doubled and tripled in his first four at-bats when he came to the plate with two runners on base and two outs in the 10th inning. He broke the tie with a single into left field, scoring sophomore Jake Schleppenbach.
"Just a great, great game for Tanner," NU coach Darin Erstad said. "And we needed it."
It looked early on like the Huskers (24-10) wouldn't be relying on late-game heroics to snap their three-game losing streak.
Nebraska jumped in front of the Wildcats (13-17) with three runs in the second inning, getting RBI hits from Lubach, freshman Scott Schreiber and junior Jake Placzek. Senior Blake Headley made it 4-1 in the third with his first homer of the season, a shot that easily cleared the right field wall.
But Tuesday's matchup then seemed to follow a script similar to Nebraska's loss to Maryland on Sunday, when the Huskers blew a 5-0 lead and ultimately lost 6-5 after an errant throw toward first base allowed the winning run to score.
Kansas State scored three times in the sixth to tie the game 4-4. The Wildcats left the potential winning run on second in the eighth and ninth innings. Nebraska, meanwhile, managed just three hits from the fourth through the ninth.
"We talked about going on the road and things not going our way and being able to handle that," Erstad said. "We didn't handle that so well on Sunday. (Tuesday), it was almost like the same exact thing happened.... But our guys kept grinding."
Freshman right-hander Garett King, who'd recorded a 2.02 ERA during the first four starts of his career, had some difficulties at times during 52/i innings of work Tuesday. He minimized the damage, though.
He gave up three hits in the second inning but held the Wildcats to one run. A double play got him out of a jam in the third. He left a runner stranded on second in the fifth.
King was pulled in the sixth, and the bullpen couldn't maintain Nebraska's 4-2 lead. Junior reliever Jeff Chesnut surrendered back-to-back two-out hits, tying the game.
Lubach, who had been batting just .148 in his last seven starts, then came through with the hit that mattered most.
"He just was so calm in the box," Erstad said. "It was just one of those times. He was in the proverbial zone, I guess you could call it. Having him up in that situation in the end, you could tell he was going to put a good swing on it."
Nebraska, which was swept by Maryland last weekend, will return to Big Ten action Friday when it hosts Minnesota for a three-game series at Haymarket Park.