Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad wanted a tough schedule to challenge his team, and six games into the 2013 season, Nebraska is seeing just how important the little things on the diamond can be against good teams.
Darin Erstad's team dropped to 0-6 this season following Saturday's loss.
The Huskers had their opportunities on the road against Texas on Saturday, but couldn't execute down the stretch and dropped a 4-3 decision to the Longhorns, who got a one-out RBI single from C.J. Hinojosa in the bottom of the ninth to drop Nebraska to 0-6 to start the season.
"They're fighting their tails off," Erstad said on his post-game radio show. "These are heartbreaking for them. They're putting a lot of time and effort in to be in these situations, and when it doesn't happen, it's tough. We just have to do a better job of coaching them up with how to deal with tough situations. They're really struggling with executing when things are on the line and we have to do a better job as coaches of getting them ready for those moments."
Nebraska will likely be kicking itself on the way back to the team hotel on Saturday. Nebraska tied the game both in the seventh and eighth innings, but the bullpen got wild, walking the bases loaded and walking in a run in the seventh with two outs. Sophomore reliever Josh Roeder came in and shut the door with a strikeout to end the Texas threat. The Huskers tied the game in the eighth on a sacrifice fly from senior Kash Kalkowski, and had the go-ahead run at third, but couldn't drive the run in.
The Huskers got the leadoff hitter on in the ninth after a bunt single by pinch hitter Austin Darby. But sophomore Blake Headley bunted into a double play while attempting to sacrifice, Darby to second, ending the Husker threat. On the day, Nebraska attempted four sacrifice bunts, and succeeded just once. Nebraska pitchers also walked nine Longhorn hitters on Saturday.
Erstad said he could tell from the way the ball was coming off the bat in sacrifice situations that Nebraska was feeling the nerves of playing before more than 6,000 fans at Disch-Falk Stadium. He said he could sense nerves at several points from his team.
"You have to be able to keep it together, and we're learning that lesson in a very hard way right now," Erstad said. "It might be tough now, but it's going to be better for these guys in the long run."
Nebraska got its second straight quality start from junior college transfer Christian DeLeon. The Texas native gave up two runs on five hits and three walks over 6.0 innings, while striking out seven. Starting in the third inning he retired 10 straight Texas hitters, and struck out the side in the fourth inning. DeLeon threw 108 pitches, but didn't factor in the decision. Nebraska closer Dylan Vogt dropped to 0-2 on the season after getting the loss.
"You're going to find who can handle these things," Erstad said. "I think Christian has shown that the big stage isn't going to bother him. Those are the kind of efforts we're going to need when we go where we want to go. Is it going to be easy? Absolutely not, but we have to expose these guys to those situations, and as tough as it might be, we need to help these guys to get over the proverbial hump."
The teams return to action Sunday at noon CT in the season finale with Ryan Hander getting the start for Nebraska.