LINCOLN, Neb. Matt Foust retired Kansas State’s Rob Vaughn and Tyler Ruch with the tying run at first base in the ninth inning as Nebraska held on for a 4-3 win over the Wildcats Friday night in a Big 12 Conference series opener at Hawks Field. With the loss, Kansas State fell to 26-16 overall and 6-10 in league play, while Nebraska moved to 24-17 overall and 9-10 in Big 12 play.
Kansas State grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning until Jake Opitz’s two-out, two-strike double to left center in the bottom of the fifth plated the tying and go-ahead runs in the inning as Nebraska regained the lead for good at 4-3. Both teams would have scoring chances in the final four innings but K-State’s Justin Murray and Nebraska’s Tony Watson and Matt Foust all combined for the final four scoreless innings.
Watson moved to 5-2 on the mound for Nebraska after going 7.2 innings and allowing three runs on eight hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. K-State’s Brad Hutt (7-3) was saddled with the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits with five walks in 5.1 innings. Murray was solid in relief, tossing the final 2.2 shutout innings.
Andrew Brown’s solo homer in the bottom of the first off Hutt gave the Huskers a 1-0 lead. The Cats then tied the game with a run in the second without recording a hit as Byron Wiley led off with a walk and then stole second. After an Eli Rumler groundout and Nate Tenbrink was hit by a pitch, Brett Scott perfectly executed a safety squeeze that plated Wiley to tie the game at one.
After the Huskers grabbed the lead back at 2-1 in the second, the Wildcats added single runs in the fourth and the fifth innings to take their first lead at 3-2. Brett Scott’s two-out bunt single scored Eli Rumler in the fourth, while Drew Biery’s two-out single to left plated Rob Vaughn, who had led off the fifth with a double.
The Wildcats threatened to tie the game in the sixth as two-out singles from Scott and J.J. Muse put runners on the corners but Vaughn flied out to end the inning. K-State also put runners on in the eighth and ninth innings but could not push across a run.
Scott, Vaughn and Rumler led the eight-hit attack for Kansas State with two hits each, while Scott drove in two of the Cats’ three runs.
Kansas State and Nebraska continue play Saturday with a 2:05 p.m. game two at Hawks Field.