It’s always something with the Nebraska baseball team.
A year ago, it was the pitching staff that couldn’t get anyone out, while the offense scored more than seven runs a game. This season it’s been the offense that hasn’t been able to score enough for the Huskers to win, but on Tuesday night in Manhattan, Kan., the roles reversed once again.
Austin Darby, Michael Pritchard, Pat Kelly, Rich Sanguinetti and Wes Edrington all recorded multi-hit games for the Huskers, but eight Husker pitchers combined to allow 13 hits in the 10-8 loss.
“I thought we were ready to play, but on the mound, when you hit leadoff guys and you give up walks, that’s what’s going to happen,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “We really pride ourselves in playing good defense and taking care of bunt situations, and we’ve let that get away from ourselves the last couple games.”
Senior Tyler Niederklein started the game for Nebraska, and he went two and one third innings, allowing a single run. But things got dicey after that for the Husker staff. Jeff Chestnut took over on the mound in the fourth inning, and he proceeded to give up three runs during the next two innings, blowing Nebraska’s 5-2 lead.
“They are going to go through some growing pains, and we know that,” Erstad said of his young pitchers. “We are searching for some depth in our bullpen, and we are going to throw guys out there. Now, it’s identifying the problems, letting them know what’s wrong, and seeing if we can fix them and go up next time and not make those mistakes.”
Colton Howell and Michael Hoppes took over for Chestnut, but they didn’t fare much better in the next few innings. Kansas State scored five more combined runs in the sixth and seventh.
“We’ve got some guys at the back of the bullpen that are good, but we’ve just been in trouble in the fifth and sixth innings where we’ve just had a heck of a time getting people out,” Erstad said.
Sophomore right fielder Austin Darby led the Huskers at the plate with three hits - including a three run shot over the right field wall in the fifth inning that gave the team a 5-2 lead - and three RBIs.
Michael Pritchard, who returned to the Nebraska lineup a week ago, went 2-for-5 on the night. Pritchard nearly hit .400 for the Huskers a season ago and was slated as a preseason All-American. An elbow injury hampered him early this season, and the team is hoping he can return to the form that had him slated for preseason honors.
Beyond the usual suspects at the top of Nebraska’s lineup, Edgrinton was the top Husker performer. The freshman went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks in one of his best games as a Husker.
“He’s coming around,” Erstad said of his young shortstop. “I think the spin of the breaking balls from the right handers has kind of surprised him a little bit, but we knew that. We didn’t bring him here to hit .400. We brought him here to play good defense, which he’s done.”
Up next for the Huskers is a three-game home set with the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.