Baseball: Nebraska opens series with 8-6 win

Nate Gotlieb

Nebraska’s Jake Placzek scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch, as the Cornhuskers defeated Minnesota 8-6 Friday afternoon at Siebert Field.

The Gophers were in position to send the game into the bottom of the ninth inning tied at six. But as Dalton Sawyer tried to intentionally walk Nebraska’s cleanup hitter, Pat Kelly, he threw a wild pitch that allowed Placzek to score from third.

Nebraska (5-2 Big Ten, 21-14 overall) added another run later in the inning and held on, despite allowing Minnesota (5-5 Big Ten, 17-12 overall) to climb back from a 5-0 deficit earlier in the game.

“We obviously got in a hole, but I was proud of our guys that they kept fighting and kept battling,” Gophers head coach John Anderson said. “It’s unfortunate the game ended like it did, but I’ve got no complaints about the effort that went on out here today.”

Nebraska scored four first-inning runs, thanks in part to home runs from Michael Pritchard and Ben Miller. The Cornhuskers added another run in the second, and starting pitcher Chance Sinclair held the Gophers scoreless through four innings.

The Gophers scored four runs in the fifth inning, thanks to four singles and a pair of walks by Sinclair. Nebraska took a 6-4 lead in the top of the sixth, and Minnesota added one run in the bottom of the inning.

The Gophers tied the game in the seventh on a Michael Handel double, but they did not score again.

Minnesota starting pitcher Alec Crawford appeared to settle in after a rocky first inning. In total he allowed six runs on 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings, striking out seven and walking none.

Handel, the shortstop and cleanup hitter, went 4-5 with the game-tying double in the seventh.

“At least the last week or so, he’s starting to figure it out,” Anderson said. “Michael’s settled down at home plate and taking a better approach and plan. He’s just relaxed more, he’s settled down more, he’s got some confidence now and he’s made some adjustments.”

The Gophers and Nebraska continue their three-game series at 2:05 p.m. Saturday at Siebert Field.

Notes:

-Before the game, the Gophers honored basketball great Lou Hudson with a moment of silence. Hudson, an all-American with the Gophers in the 1960s and six-time NBA all-star, died Friday at the age of 69. 

-Announced attendance was 544, with a sizeable portion of the crowd wearing Nebraska red.