Nebraska's hitters had no answers for 6-foot-10, 250-pound Indiana pitcher Aaron Slegers.
The Huskers managed only three hits through eight innings against the towering Slegers on Monday, falling meekly to the 16th-ranked Hoosiers 10-2 at Haymarket Park in a battle for second place in the Big Ten.
“We talk about pitching down in the zone all the time, so common sense says the higher up you are pitching down in the zone, the ball is going to travel a greater downhill distance,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “That’s why we preach pitching down in the zone. He (Slegers) had his way with us.”
Slegers gave up singles to Tanner Lubach in the third inning, Chad Christensen in the seventh and Rich Sanguinetti in the eighth. The Huskers didn’t advance a runner to second base until the eighth inning; Slegers retired 18 of the first 20 batters he faced.
“I was throwing first-pitch strikes, and that was really helping me,” said Slegers, who ran his record to 7-1 with the win. “That set up the counts so I was getting ahead of hitters. I felt pretty good with hitting my spots right from the first inning.”
Meanwhile, Nebraska starter Aaron Bummer (1-1) allowed just three hits through four innings but had a combination of walks, passed balls and wild pitches that allowed Indiana to move runners and take a 2-0 lead. Ryan Hander come on for the Huskers in the fifth and gave up a three-run homer to Dustin DeMuth for a 5-0 Hoosier advantage.
“I can handle losing,” Erstad said, “but the part I’m most disappointed in is the amount of walks and that we didn’t finish the game defensively like we can. Those aren’t winning plays. Against an average team you might be able to get away with it, but against a team with a very realistic chance of hosting regionals, you’re going to get your tail whipped and that’s exactly what happened.”
Indiana led 10-0 going into the bottom of the ninth and Slegers tried to get his first complete game of the season. But he tired and the Huskers finally got on the board when Michael Pritchard singled, Christensen doubled and Blake Headley produced a sacrifice fly.
Indiana (36-9 overall, 13-5 Big Ten) took two of three games from the Huskers and moved into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten. Nebraska (21-25, 12-6) has a three-game set at league-leading Minnesota (28-15, 11-4) beginning Friday.
“We still have a chance at the two-seed,” Erstad said. “We still have six games left, and who knows what can happen? It’s kind of been the same song and dance all year. We haven’t found the right formula or the right magic on Sundays to finish off a series. Whether that’s depth or something else, we’re going to have to continue to tweak it and get better in the future.”
INDIANA 10, NEBRASKA 2
|Cureton cf||4||1||1||0||Sanguinetti cf||4||0||1||0|
|Schwarber dh||2||2||1||0||Kelly 2b||4||0||0||0|
|Knoblauch ph||1||0||0||0||Pritchard dh||4||1||1||0|
|Travis 1b||5||1||1||1||Christensen lf||4||1||2||0|
|Donley lf||3||0||0||0||Headley 3b||3||0||0||1|
|Nolden lf||1||1||0||0||Kalkowski 1b||4||0||1||0|
|Basil ss||3||2||1||1||Darby rf||3||0||0||1|
|DeMuth 3b||5||2||2||4||Peters ss||4||0||1||0|
|Smith rf||3||1||2||0||Lubach c||3||0||1||0|
E--Basil (13), DeMuth (15), Kelly (7), Kalkowski (4). LOB--Indiana 10, Nebraska 6. 2B--Travis (15), DeMuth (15), Clark (7), Christensen (7). HR--DeMuth (3). SH--Clark (4). SF--Basil (3), Headley (1), Darby (3). SB--Cureton (19). CS--O'Conner (2).
|Slegers W 7-1||8 1/3||5||2||2||0||3|
|Bummer L 1-1||4||3||3||2||5||3|
WP--Bummer (4). PB--Lubach (5). T-2:35. A--2,768.