The Nebraska baseball team wrapped up its 17-game home stand on Tuesday night with a 6-3 win over the Kansas State Wildcats at Hawks Field in front of 4,155 fans. The Huskers started and ended the home stand with wins over the Wildcats, as NU beat KSU 9-6 on March 6. Now 18-9 on the season and 2-1 in Big Ten play, the Huskers went 12-5 on the home stand with series wins over defending Big Ten champion Illinois and Louisiana Tech, as well as a four-game series split with then No. 18 California. The Huskers have also won the season series with the Wildcats, while the two teams still have one meeting left in Manhattan on Tuesday, April 3.
Junior Rich Sanguinetti led the charge for the Huskers, as his career-high three hits accounted for nearly half of NU’s eight total hits on the night. Sanguinetti also drove in a run and scored two runs, while Richard Stock plated a game-high two runs with a two-out RBI single in the third inning.
On the mound, sophomore Brandon Pierce improved to 3-1 on the year with a win in his first start of the season. After making his first 14 appearances of the season out of the bullpen, Pierce gave up two hits and struck out one over 3.0 innings of shutout ball. Five relievers combined to finish the game for NU, including Travis Huber, who closed the door for his fourth save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
Cory Burleson continued to shut down the opposing running game when he threw out Jake Brown on a steal attempt in the top of the second, after Brown reach on a one-out single. The Wildcats didn’t attempt to steal the rest of the game, while Burleson has thrown out 12-of-20 runners on the season.
The Husker offense got Pierce some support right away with three runs in the bottom of the first after scoring just 10 first-inning runs in the first 26 games of the season. Following a leadoff walk to Michael Pritchard, Sanguinetti and Chad Christensen loaded the bases with back-to-back singles. Pritchard then scored when KSU starter Matt Wivinis walked Kash Kalkowski with the bases juiced. Wivinis got a big pair of outs on a double play ball off the bat of Stock, but Sanguinetti scored on the play. Farmer knocked in the third run of the inning on a single, but was then thrown out trying steal second to end the inning.
After going down in order in the second, NU added two more runs in the third to take a 5-0 lead. Sanguinetti got the inning going with a one-out single and Christensen followed with a walk. Sanguinetti moved to third on a fly out by Kalkowski and Christensen stole second to put two runners in scoring position for Stock. The lefty’s only hit of the game came at just the right time, as he drove in his 11th and 12th two-out RBI’s of the season.
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NU added its sixth run in the fourth after Bryan Peters was hit-by-pitch, his 43rd HBP of his career. Pritchard and Sanguinetti followed with back-to-back singles to drive in Peters.
KSU did scratch across one run each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but the NU bullpen closed out the game by retiring 11 of the final 12 batters it faced.
The Huskers now head on the road for their first game away from Hawks Field since Sunday, March 4, when they beat Minnesota 10-3 at the Metrodome. Nebraska is set to play its first Big Ten road series when it visits the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston, Ill., for a three-game series that starts on Friday, March 31, at 3 p.m. (CT). The teams also meet on Saturday and Sunday, with both games scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch. Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle will call all the action on the Husker Sports Network.