The Nebraska baseball team wore camouflage uniforms Sunday, but it was Ohio State pitcher Brian King who hid the ball from the heavy-hitting Huskers in the Buckeyes' 7-4 victory before 3,262 fans at Haymarket Park.
King didn’t allow a Husker past first base in his seven innings of work. The senior left-hander counted on three double plays and three strikeouts, and only allowed five baserunners to help the Buckeyes win the three-game series.
Nebraska, leading the Big Ten standings coming into Sunday's game, hadn’t lost at home until Ohio State's 6-5, 11-inning win Saturday and hadn’t lost a Big Ten series since last year. Now, Nebraska (14-19, 8-4) is tied for third in the league, trailing Minnesota and Michigan. Indiana, which started the weekend in first place, was swept at Michigan State.
“I picked Ohio State as my sleeper in the Big Ten,” Husker coach Darin Erstad said. “It all starts on the mound, and they have one of the better rotations in the Big Ten. If they don’t make errors, and they came into this series with just four in the Big Ten, and pitch well, like they did, they took it to us.”
The Huskers won Friday's game 11-2 with a 15-hit outburst. Ohio State rallied to beat NU on Saturday and was never threatened Sunday until the ninth inning.
Ohio State scored in the first inning on a single and an error, and again in the second when Patrick Porter singled with two runners on. Ryan Cypret doubled and scored in the fifth, and Ohio State tacked on four runs on six hits in the eighth to take a 7-1 lead.
NU's Tanner Lubach doubled in a run in the eighth off Buckeye reliever Greg Greve.
In the bottom of the ninth, the first five Husker batters reached, and NU had the tying run at the plate after Blake Headley and Josh Scheffert singled in runs and Austin Darby hit a sacrifice fly.
That brought in Buckeye closer Trace Dempsey, who earned the win Saturday. He walked Rich Sanguinetti, but got Pat Kelly to pop out to first to end the game.
“King was solid with his breaking ball and it wasn’t until he left the game we got anything going, so hats off to him,” Lubach said. “In the eighth, I felt like I was seeing the ball and, finally, I stayed down and got through the ball.
“In the ninth, we got something going and we went down with a fight.”
Ohio State was battling from the start, according to coach Greg Beals.
“We started hitting the way Nebraska has been hitting in the conference season. It’s all in the approach – being ready. We had four first-pitch base hits today.
“We marked this as a big series long ago,” he said. “We were hanging around the middle of the pack (in the league) and if we win this series, we have the next two at home, and we feel like we’re in the thick of things.”
* The Huskers will likely use sophomore left-hander Kyle Kubat on Tuesday against eighth-ranked Arkansas. Kubat has not pitched this season because of an injury. Arkansas is coached by former Husker coach Dave Van Horn.
* NU's Scheffert played designated hitter Sunday for the first time. He was 1-for-3 and walked. The senior from Lincoln Southeast has been limited to batting only since injuring his elbow in late March.