Kansas State proved more than just a speed bump in the Nebraska baseball team's climb to NCAA Tournament consideration.
Kansas State held off Nebraska 13-10 on Wednesday night at Haymarket Park.
The Wildcats (29-13, with three wins against NU) showed why they are the top-hitting team in the country from the get-go. Meanwhile, Nebraska searched in vain for pitching, using nine, not including any of the weekend starters.
K-State sent 20 batters to the plate in the first two innings to take an 8-1 lead. Even after the Huskers rallied to go ahead 9-8 in the fifth, Kansas State shrugged it off and continued to pound Nebraska pitching.
The Huskers, 19-20 overall and 11-4 in the Big Ten, play four more nonconference games this weekend at Omaha's TD Ameritrade Park — Creighton on Friday at 6:35 p.m., Oklahoma State on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Rutgers on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Nebraska coach Darin Erstad talked about how a three-game sweep at Purdue and a doubleheader sweep of then-No. 12 Arkansas last week had the Huskers back in line to chase an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Two weeks ago, Erstad said NU's only chance at the tournament was to win the Big Ten Tournament.
That's why the Huskers' pitching collapse had the NU coach frustrated.
"Great midweek college game — 13 to 10. Fifteen hits apiece ... (we have) eight walks, four batters hit by pitches, 12 free bases, plus we can't field the baseball on the mound," Erstad said. "Not going to get it done. Walk eight guys, hit four guys and don't field on the mound and you're going to lose.
"It's simple. You throw it over the plate," he said. "The rules of the game were invented a long time ago. Whether you're feeling the strike zone might be inconsistent, it was the same for both teams. They didn't have as much trouble as we did.
"You've got to figure out how to throw it over the little white part (of the plate)."
The Huskers showed the same form at the plate that helped them win their last five games.
Husker senior Kash Kalkowski had three hits, including a triple to right-center, and drove in two runs, and four of his teammates had two hits apiece. All nine starters had at least one hit for the Huskers, who have scored 42 runs in their last four games.
"That was very frustrating," said Kalkowski, who is batting .307. "We came back and took a 9-8 lead and then we just fell apart. All year we've had to fight back and that's what we're doing.
"The pitchers had a rough night and everybody has that — we've had that as hitters."
After the Wildcats took the 8-1 lead on seven hits, five walks and a hit batter in the first two innings, Nebraska rallied with three runs on four hits in the second and four runs on four hits, including Kalkowski's two-run triple, in the fifth.
The Huskers took the lead when Tanner Lubach reached on a fielder's choice, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Pat Kelly to give NU a 9-8 lead after five innings.
Nebraska pitching kept KSU quiet for three innings, but three singles, a walk and a hit batter in the sixth put the Wildcats back up 11-9. Three consecutive hits in the seventh added to the lead.
KANSAS STATE 13, NEBRASKA 10
|Kivett 2b||4||1||1||1||Sanguinetti cf||4||2||2||2|
|Witt lf||5||2||2||0||Kelly 2b||4||0||2||2|
|Conlon 1b||4||3||2||0||Pritchard dh||4||1||2||1|
|King cf||5||3||3||3||Christensen lf||4||1||1||1|
|Fisher ss||5||2||2||0||Darby rf||5||1||2||1|
|Davis rf||4||2||1||3||Kalkowski 1b||4||2||3||2|
|Santigate 3b||5||0||3||3||Headley 3b||5||0||1||1|
|DeBord c||3||0||1||1||Lubach c||4||2||1||0|
|Miles dh||2||0||0||0||Scheffert ph||1||0||0||0|
|Speer ph||2||0||0||1||Peters ss||4||1||1||0|
E--Witt (1), Darby (3). LOB--Kansas State 14, Nebraska 8. 2B--Conlon (7), King (11), Kelly (8), Pritchard (9), Kalkowski (9). 3B--Kalkowski (2). SF--King (3), Davis (2), Speer (1), Kelly (2), Christensen (4). CS--Santigate (4).
|Nixon, W (2-0)||0.2||0||0||0||1||0|
|Witt, S (6)||1||0||0||0||0||1|
|King, L (1-4)||0||2||2||2||0||0|
HBP--by Niederklein (DeBord); by Doller (Kalkowski); by King (Fisher); by Hawkins (DeBord); by Hawkins (Kivett). WP--Williams (5), Nixon (1), Esquivel (2). T--3:05. A--2,245.