LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska scored six runs over the first four innings and held off a Kansas State charge, as the Huskers topped K-State 6-3 Tuesday at Hawks Field.
With the win, Nebraska improved to 18-9 on the year and won the three-game season series against the Wildcats. K-State dropped to 13-11 on the season.
The series finale is scheduled for next Tuesday at Tointon Family Stadium.
Nebraska scored its six runs due in large part to clutch hitting, as four of the runs were produced by two-out base hits. Rich Sanguinetti led the Huskers’ charge by going 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Richard Stock added two RBIs on a two-out single in the third.
K-State fought back with single runs over the middle three innings, but the Wildcats stranded two runners in scoring position in the fourth inning and another at third in the fifth as K-State left nine runners on base in the game.
“They got the two-out RBI hits and we didn’t,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “Tanner (Witt) gave us one good swing and their guy ran it down in the gap. Other than that, we got the ball in the air and didn’t take good swings with runners in scoring position. Two-out base hits are how you win games.
“I thought we competed hard. We hit some balls right at people. We had to match their two-out base hits and we didn’t get them.”
The Wildcats plated a run in the fourth on a wild pitch before Wade Hinkle, who went 2-for-4, singled home a run in the fifth. In the sixth, RJ Santigate reached on an infield single, advanced to second on an error and was driven home on a Tanner Witt single.
However, that proved to be the final run of the game, as the Wildcats could only must a Blair DeBord single in the eighth the rest of the way. DeBord finished the game 2-for-4.
Matt Wivinis (1-1) took the loss, as he allowed the five early runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout. Nebraska struck early on the right-hander as the first four Huskers in the first inning reached base, including a bases-loaded walk by Kash Kalkowski. Following a double play that scored another run, Kurt Farmer recorded a two-out bloop RBI single on a check swing to complete a three-run frame.
Wivinis was able to bounce back with a perfect second inning, but he fell into trouble again in the third, as two runners reached base with one out before Stock slapped his two-out, two-run single into left to push the Husker lead to five.
NU starter Brandon Pierce (3-1) got the win in a predetermined pitch-count start. The right-hander pitched three scoreless frames, working around two hits and two walks. Travis Huber recorded his fifth save of the season and second against K-State by throwing a perfect ninth inning.
One bright spot for the Wildcats was the performance of their relievers. After Robert Youngdahl surrendered a two-out RBI single to Sanguinetti in the fourth, the left-hander worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the fifth to keep the Huskers scoreless in the frame.
Jake Doller entered in the sixth and retired all six batters he faced, while freshman Caleb Wallingford worked a perfect eighth inning.
“Now those guys have to reproduce that on the weekend,” Hill said of his relievers. “That’s great experience for them. Now they need to use that momentum into the weekend for us so we can use them.”
Next action for K-State is Friday, as the Wildcats travel to Oklahoma for a three-game series against the 24th-ranked Sooners. The series begins on Friday with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park.