LINCOLN, Neb. -- A wild pitch with runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the 16th inning lifted No. 4 Nebraska (27-4, 6-1 Big 12) to a 4-3 win over No. 1 Texas (27-6, 4-5 Big 12) in front of the second-largest crowd in Hawks Field history (8,485) on Friday, April 8. Of note, the game tied for the fifth-longest contest in UT baseball history as the last time the Horns played a 16-inning ballgame was against Louisiana Tech at home on Feb. 22, 1986 - a 2-1 victory.
After a scoreless first, Texas jumped in front 1-0 in the top of the second when Taylor Teagarden (Carrollton, Texas) doubled to open the inning, moved to third on a one-out groundout and scored when Clay Van Hook (Brenham, Texas) stole second and the throw down was bobbled, allowing him to score. Nebraska immediately countered in the bottom of the frame when, following back-to-back singles, two sacrifice bunts brought home designated hitter Brandon Buckman from third and a two-out, RBI-single from Jake Opitz gave the Huskers' a 2-1 advantage. Although both offenses then had scoring chances in both the third and fourth innings, starters Joba Chamberlain for NU and Kyle McCulloch (Houston, Texas) for UT each worked out of jams to keep it a one-run ballgame.
In the sixth, the Horns put runners on second and third with no outs via a single from Seth Johnston (Boerne, Texas) and a double off the bat of Teagarden. First baseman Chance Wheeless (Round Rock, Texas) then dropped a bunt down the first base line that not only scored Johnston to tie the game at 2-2, but when the throw to first was dropped, Teagarden crossed the plate to pull UT in front by a score of 3-2. While the Horns were still threatening in the inning, Chamberlain managed to record three straight groundouts and end the frame.
Four consecutive scoreless half innings then moved to game to the bottom of the eighth where the Huskers put runners on first and second with no outs after a single by Joe Simokaitis, a balk and a walk to third baseman Alex Gordon. After a fielder's choice groundout on a bunt retired Simokaitis at third, Buckman lined a base hit to center field to tie the game at 3-3. J. Brent Cox (Bay City, Texas), who came on with two on and no outs in the inning, then fanned the next two batters he faced to end the rally. Although the Huskers threatened to end the contest in the bottom of the ninth inning with a one-out double from Optiz, Cox retired the next two hitters in the NU lineup to send the game into extra innings.
The first real threat for either side came in the bottom of the 14th when the Huskers received a leadoff walk to Ryan Wehrle, who made his way to third with one out on a groundout and a wild pitch. After a strikeout, NU then loaded the bases on an intentional walk and a hit batter before Buck Cody (Oklahoma City, Okla.), who started the inning in relief, induced a groundout to preserve the 3-3 deadlock. Two innings later in the 16th, NU again put runners on the corners with two outs after a one-out double from right fielder Andy Gerch, a groundout and an intentional walk. Then on a 1-1 pitch to Brandon Fusilier, UT reliever Randy Boone (Yoakum, Texas), who had just been brought into the game, uncorked a wild pitch that scored Gerch with the winning run. Earning the victory in relief for Nebraska was Dustin Timm, who allowed only one hit and one walk as he struck out four over three innings, while Cody shouldered the tough loss for Texas.
Paving the way for the Longhorns' offense on the night were Johnston, who tallied his team-leading 18th multi-hit game of the year during a 2-for-4 effort that included one run scored, and Teagarden, who doubled twice and scored a pair of runs. On the other side of the ledger, Nebraska's 11-hit attack was led by Buckman, who posted three hits while scoring once and driving in one run, and the trio of Simokaitis, Curtis Ledbetter and Opitz, who each collected two hits on the evening. Of additional note, McCulloch, who allowed only two runs on six hits over six strong innings, and Chamberlain, who fanned 10 over a career-best nine innings, each received no-decisions despite quality starts and Cox worked six innings in relief while striking out five to set season-bests in both categories for the Horns.
The Horns and Huskers continue this three-game league series with a 1 p.m. Central contest on Saturday, April 9 at Hawks Field. Notably, the game will be broadcast on radio by 1300 AM "The Zone" in Austin and televised nationally by ESPN.