For the second straight week, Nebraska’s (20-11) bats went cold, as the Huskers were shutout for the first time since last March in a 5-0 loss to Kansas State (17-21) Tuesday night at Haymarket Park.
Unlike last week against Creighton, morale was high after the game in the home dugout.
“After last week, we came out flat, I expected us to come out and be ready to play no matter what the situation was, and they did that,” Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad said.
For the first time since Feb. 22, junior Chad Luensmann got the start on the mound, as he has been struggling recently, giving up seven runs in just five appearances.
Luensmann was able to throw strikes, but center fielder Will Brennan was able to rip a ball over the plate down the third-base line for a double to get the Wildcats going in the bottom of the first.
Luensmann needed just one more strike to end the inning, but right fielder Zach Kokoska pounded an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Chris Ceballos added to the lead when he hit a playable fly ball to right field, but Aaron Palensky lost it in the sun, dropping just fair to bring home Kokoska.
Dylan Phillips almost added another run to the inning, but center fielder Joe Acker made a phenomenal diving catch to save a run and end the inning.
The Huskers would have their chance to score in the bottom of the first inning, as pitcher Caleb Littlejim walked junior Mojo Hagge and junior Luke Roskam and hit Acker to load the bases. Junior Ty Roseberry hit a hard ground ball, but the third baseman was just able to corrall it to record the final out of the inning.
Third baseman Cameron Thompson drilled a home run to right field off freshman Tyler Martin to lead off the third inning, extending the Wildcats’ lead to 3-0.
Nebraska had runners in scoring positions just three more times the rest of the game and could not capitalize on any of those opportunities.
Kansas State added runs in the eighth and ninth innings to add insurance, but the Wildcats allowed just two hits in the final five innings.
The Huskers recorded just five hits on the night, but on many occasions, Nebraska made solid contact but the ball seemed to have a magnet to the Kansas State fielders.
“Our balls with runners in scoring position were hit hard at people and theirs found holes,” Erstad said. “The ball just didn’t go in the right spot.”
“The thing with baseball is those will eventually fall. That’s how the game works sometimes,” Acker said. “Yeah it sucks, but we just need to stick to our approach and those are going to fall eventually, and we are going to put up a lot of runs.”
Littlejim improved to 3-1 with the win after going five innings and allowing just four hits. Luensmann dropped to 1-2 on the year after giving up two runs on three hits in two innings.
Nebraska will have a quick turnaround tomorrow when it travels to Werner Park in Omaha to face the University of Nebraska-Omaha (21-9-1). First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.