Nebraska coach Darin Erstad says the same thing every time Kyle Kubat pitches for the Huskers. "He's not the savior."
Kubat may not be the savior, but he's a pretty good pretender.
He got his fourth victory in four starts and earned his third consecutive Sunday win in leading the Huskers to a 3-2 victory against No. 16 Indiana at Haymarket Park.
The sophomore left-hander from Waterloo, by way of Creighton Prep, muffled the powerful Hoosier bats on five hits, two runs, two walks and two strikeouts to extend his regular-season win streak to nine games.
Kubat said his job was simple after watching Indiana smack four home runs in the series opener Saturday night in the Hoosiers' 8-6 victory.
"Just don't give up the fifth home run or the sixth or seventh," he said. "Keep the ball down -- all three pitches down."
Kubat wasn't sure about the start Sunday. He said his warmups were not up to standard but he flashed through the first and second innings, in order, on a total of 16 pitches. After seeing the Hoosiers load the bases in the fourth and fifth, he finished off the sixth and seventh in 18 more pitches.
"Kyle is unbelievable," NU second baseman Pat Kelly said. "That's what we expect. I love playing behind that guy because he gets the ball and throws."
Husker senior left fielder Chad Christensen added: "Kyle brings it every day. He's keeping hitters off-balance."
Erstad smiled and chuckled. "He's just a kid out there having fun playing baseball. I'll take that after everything he's been through this year."
Kubat missed more than the first half of the season with a shoulder injury. But he threw five innings in Nebraska's first nine-inning no-hitter in 20 years -- against then-No. 10 Arkansas -- in his first outing. He then beat Purdue for a series sweep and stopped NU's four-game losing streak last Sunday with an eight-inning, four-hit gem against Rutgers.
He wasn't alone on the mound Sunday.
Christensen may have made the catch of the year when he sprinted to the wall, kicked it, then reached to his right for a "play-of-the-day" catch in the sixth that brought a roar from the crowd of 2,993.
"Make plays like that and you've got a chance to win," Erstad said.
Kubat said of Christensen's catch: "He's got to be on 'SportsCenter' with the No. 1 top-10 play after that. It really helped boost my morale."
Kubat also got support from NU's chaos on the basepaths in the first, when the Huskers scored one run on two hits and two Indiana errors.
Nebraska added another run in the second when Rich Sanquinetti walked, advanced to third on a throwing error by the Hoosier catcher and scored on a single by Kelly. Tanner Lubach walked with the bases loaded in the fifth for the final Husker run.
Indiana finally found a kink in Kubat's armor in the eighth. He walked the leadoff batter, got a flyout, then gave up a single before he was relieved by Dylan Vogt.
Michael Basil singled to left to score two runs.
Nebraska (21-24, 12-5) moved back into a tie with the Hoosiers (35-9, 12-5) for second place in the Big Ten behind Minnesota.
The Huskers and Hoosiers will play Monday at 12:05 p.m. in the series finale.