After being blown out of the ball park last Saturday by second ranked (by Baseball America) Oregon St., not many expected Nebraska to dominate today's rematch in Surprise, AZ, in the opening game of the Aramark Big-10 Pac-12 Challenge Tournament.
But the surprise was on the Beavers, as the Huskers completely turned the tables, taking the 9-2 win.
This time is was Nebraska that played like a team that knew what they were doing, and Oregon St. that the team that was outclassed.
Since the Collegiate Baseball Writers had the Beavers ranked #1, the Huskers can rightly claim an upset of the highest order.
The Huskers repeatedly hit the ball with runners in scoring position with 2 out, plating the majority of them, while the Beavers bats were abysmal in the clutch.
And it was Oregon St. that had no pitching plan for the possibility that Andrew Moore might not be able to dominate for more than 5 innings.
Oregon St. took the early lead, going up 1-0 in the bottom of the 3rd inning, though the run scored on a wild pitch that was incorrectly scored a passed ball, but still seemed in control in the fast moving game, as Moore was rolling along.
Everything changed in the 6th inning with 2 outs. The Beavers could have been out of the inning already, but Trevor Morrison had made an errant throw under hurried conditions, and it set the table when Moore gave up a single and then issued a walk. With the bases loaded, the Huskers got 3 RBI singles in a row to take a 4-1 lead.
Moore seemed to have settled down, but with 2 outs in the 7th inning, Steven Reveles doubled down the left field line.
Oregon St. pitching coach Nate Yeski appeared to panic, and made 6 pitching changes in 1 1/3 innings.
Nebraska only added 1 run in the inning, on another double by Pat Kelly that scored Reveles, but could and should have still had 2 runners in scoring position.
Instead, the Huskers decided to challenge Michael Conforto's arm, and Michael Pritchard was gunned down at the plate trying to follow Reveles home to end the inning.
It was the only mistake Nebraska made all afternoon though, as the Huskers scored 4 more runs with 2 out in the 8th, with a sacrifice fly, a 2 RBI triple by Austin Darby, and an RBI double by Reveles.
Another fielding error, one of two by Oregon St. second baseman Andy Peterson on the day, helped set the table, but the bottom line was Nebraska repeatedly hit the ball with runners in scoring position.
Oregon St. still had a chance to rally, and loaded the bases with 1 out in the bottom of the 8th inning. But the Beavers then sent the 3-4-5 spots to the plate, and scored only 1 run. And that came on a full count walk to Michael Conforto.
Moore took the loss, dropping to 0-1, and Oregon St. slid to 4-1 for the season. Moore allowed 6 hits and issued 3 walks, but only allowed 1 earned run, and struck out 4.
Nebraska starter Christian DeLeon picked up his first win of the season and as a starter to go to 1-0. DeLeon worked 7 innings, giving up just 4 hits, and struck out 5 while walking only 1 Beaver batter.
The Huskers improved to 3-2 for the season.
Both teams continue action in Surprise tomorrow, with Oregon St. taking on Michigan St. at 1 PM (Noon PST), and Nebraska facing Washington.
There will be no 15-0 start to the season for Oregon St., but they couldn't have had a better case study to learn from about hitting in the clutch than what Nebraska demonstrated to them today.