The first victory came Friday afternoon, 8-3, for BYU’s baseball team, but Nebraska rallied back to win 3-1 in the 11-inning nightcap.
The Cougars (1-6) secured their first victory of the season in convincing style, rebounding from a 3-0 deficit with a five-run fourth inning when they batted through their order.
”I can't say enough about the effort we put forth today,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “Jeff Barker gave us a great start and our hitters answered the bell against one of the most highly touted pitchers in the country.
"I liked what Hayden (Rogers) brought to the game. We need quality shut down innings from a left-hander and Hayden gave us that today. It was also great to see James (Lengal) come in and shut them down in the ninth.”
The heart of the Cougar lineup delivered to the tune of five runs on five hits in the fourth off Nebraska ace Chance Sinclair who exited the game an inning later. Among the big hits was a Colton Shaver deep one-out double to right-center field off an 0-2 count to tie the game 3-all. Then Cole Wilstead, son of former BYU All-American Randy, got his first hit as a Cougar when he singled up the middle to plate a pair of teammates.
Shaver and Eric Urry scored insurance runs in the sixth, just prior to Barker completing his afternoon keeping the Cornhuskers (3-3) off pace.
The offensive fireworks came to a halt in the nightcap, which showed goose eggs through the first five innings.
Nebraska matched that run the next inning when it got a two-out single that chased Cougar pitcher Brandon Kinser from the game.
“BK (Brandon Kinser) gave us a great start today in game two,” Littlewood said. “He matched (Kyle) Kubat pitch for pitch and gave us a chance to win. We just didn't get the big hit in game two and Nebraska did.
“I see more confidence and improvement in our team every time we take the field which is very encouraging.”
Among the encouraging signs was the stellar relief pitching of Michael Rucker who set the Huskers down in order the next inning, then got back-to-back strikeouts swinging and looking to close the ninth frame.
Double plays halted BYU’s efforts to score in the eighth and ninth. Again in the 10th inning, BYU had a chance to win following consecutive Cornhusker errors with two away. However, NU closer Josh Roeder struck out Robinson swinging.
Nebraska then generated two runs in the top of the 11th from a double to deep right field and a sacrifice fly in the same area.
The two teams close their four-game series at noon MDT, on Saturday.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at [email protected].