Huskers Hammer Wildcats, 14-5
It’s probably safe to say Michael Pritchard’s streak is over.
The Nebraska-Kansas State baseball variety show opened curtain Tuesday at 6:30 with Pritchard in the leading role, and it didn’t close until 9:54 in a crushing 14-5 win for Nebraska.
“Hitters hit,” Darin Erstad said of Prtichard, who has batted .520 over the last six games. “The guy can roll out of bed and hit…those kind of guys, they don’t apply to the normal rules of baseball.”
The Wildcats opened with an explosive first inning at the expense of Nebraska’s Austin Christensen, making his first career start at Nebraska. The Huskers scored at least two runs in four of the first five innings however as the relief pitching cooled Kansas State. Pritchard earned his first career five-hit game as a slew of Huskers recorded multiple hits in the win.
Pritchard was one of six Huskers with multiple hits on the night, with five earning three hits or more.
“I feel like my swing is back to normal,” Pritchard said. “Just getting back at it and working the left side helped a lot.”
The hot start for Kansas State’s scoring started with two outs after a single, followed by a double and another pair of singles and a walk from Christensen, putting the Huskers in a 4-0 defect before stepping to the plate on offense. Keying off the night the Huskers would have, the first single by Kansas State’s RJ Santigate was his first of four. The Huskers responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first thanks to an RBI single from Pritchard and a sacrifice fly out from Pat Kelly. The second inning was one of just three scoreless innings for the Huskers.
Nebraska plated two more in the third, riding base hits from Ben Miller, Pritchard and Kelly. Ben Miller went on to record his second career three-hit game, while Jake Placzek recorded his fourth.
“When you have a lineup top-to-bottom having that type of an approach, that’s that relentless attitude we want to have,” Erstad said.
Placek hit a double in a busy fourth innings for both sides, with Kansas State scoring a run on a wild pitch and the Husker scoring another two. The Huskers tied the game at 5-all after a Kansas State balk and took the lead for the first time at 6-5 on an RBI single from Pritchard.
Nebraska broke its streak of two-run innings in the bottom of the fifth adding four more runs to inflate its lead to 10-5 on a two-run homer from Tanner Lubach and RBI singles from Placzek and Ryan Boldt.
In the leadoff spot, Boldt got in on the four-hit club in the fifth inning; his third four-hit game of the season.
“You can see where his speed can be kind of dynamic. He handles both right- and left-hand pitchers very well,” Erstad said. “For this year, I think it was time to move up there. Coach Bolt and I both felt it was time, and I think he’s responded well.”
Neither squad plated a run in the sixth or seventh innings, but Nebraska blew the game wide open again in the eighth. Quinn McGill came in to pinch hit for Ben Miller and blasted a two-RBI double to the warning track. Lubach and Headley each added an RBI double to the mix, inflating the Huskers’ lead to the eventual winning score of 14-5.
The 22 hits were a season-high for Nebraska, its best in fact since 2012. The 14 runs matched a season-high set by the Huskers in a win over St. John’s on March 9.
“It’s just fun,” Pritchard said. ”When you put up 22 hits on the board, a lot of guys are getting it in on the action, it’s fun. It’s fun to put up 14 runs and help the pitchers out as much as we can.”
Colton Howell recorded the win for Nebraska, pitching three innings and giving up a run on three hits. Bob Greco also went three for the Huskers, with Zach Hirsch and Max Knutson adding an inning each and combining for zero runs on one hit. The Husker pitching staff fanned the Wildcats eight times Tuesday.