The Nebraska baseball team won't be able to leave Iowa City not feeling like they left a win on the field.
Three errors by Nebraska (13-17, 7-2 Big Ten) and missed opportunities at the plate in the ninth inning resulted in a 6-5 loss to Iowa (11-15, 2-7 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon.
The Huskers picked up their third-straight conference series win over the weekend, and nearly earned their first conference road sweep since 2008.
Nebraska entered the ninth inning trailing 6-3, but got three singles to leadoff the inning and load the bases. Michael Pritchard drove in the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly, then Chad Christensen followed up with another RBI single that an Iowa fielder lost in the sun to make the score 6-5. Austin Darby stepped in with one out and runners on first and third, but Darby grounded into a double play to end the game.
Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad said Saturday's game was bittersweet. The Huskers also missed an opportunity to gain a game on league-leading Indiana, which lost to Illinois on Sunday.
“In college baseball you take advantage of mistakes,” Erstad said on his post-game radio show. “We threw the ball around one inning and they took advantage of it there and they tried to hand it to us right there and we had an opportunity to steal a game and we didn't. We won a series on the road and at the end of the day, that's what we need to be able to do.”
Nebraska got on the board first, scoring two runs in the top of the third, then gave it right back in the bottom of the inning after committing three errors that led to two runs off Nebraska starter Tyler Niederklein.
Niederklein lasted just 2.2 innings and did not factor in the decision.
Iowa got most of its work done off Nebraska reliever Tyler King, who entered the game in the fourth inning. In the fifth, Iowa put together four straight two-out singles off King to take a 4-3 lead. Iowa added two more in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-3 lead that would hold.
Erstad said his team will be fine if it continues winning road series, but that Nebraska made too many mistakes on the mound and in the field Sunday.
“We were up in the zone and we got hit around,” Erstad said. “They got five straight hits at one point and every pitch was belly button high and you're not going to get anybody out doing that. We need to work on that and find guys who can pitch down in the zone and get people out.”
Iowa starter Andrew Hanse pitched 6.2 innings to get the win and improve to 2-1 on the season.
Nebraska returns to action at home on Tuesday against Creighton. The game kicks off a six-game homestand that continues next weekend when the Huskers host Ohio State for a three-game series and then the Huskers host Arkansas for a two-game midweek series on Tuesday, April 16 and Wednesday, April 17.
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