COLLEGE STATION -- Brandon Hicks hit his third home run in as many games but it was not enough as No. 26 Nebraska defeated No. 14 Texas A&M, 11-4, in Friday’s series opener at Olsen Field.
The Aggies struggled defensively, committing seven errors. In the last seven games, A&M has committed 24 errors and have a record of 4-3 in that span.
“You can talk about all the things we did wrong, but you can also talk about all the things Nebraska did right tonight,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “They capitalized on every mistake we made tonight, on the mound and defensively, and Tony Watson pitched like a first-rounder. We have a good team but when you make seven errors and walk hitters, you are going to lose.”
With the loss, A&M dropped to 23-6 overall and to 3-4 in Big 12 play, while Nebraska moved to 16-9 and 3-4 in the league. The second game of the three-game series will be played Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. at Olsen Field.
The Huskers manufactured a run in the top of he first without the benefit of a hit off A&M starting pitcher David Newmann. DJ Belfonte started the inning with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Wehrle. After a wild pitch by Newmann, Andrew Brown’s groundout plated Belfonte.
Nebraska scored an unearned run in the top of the fourth to stretch its lead to 2-0. Brown reached second on a throwing error by third baseman Blake Stouffer and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Opitz. After a pop-up to the infield by Craig Corriston, Jeff Tezak smashed a triple to the gap in left center.
Kyle Colligan belted a lead off home run over the wall in left to cut the Huskers’ lead to 2-1. It was the fourth longball of the year for Colligan.
Nebraska answered with two runs in the top of the fifth. Mitch Abeita walked, moved to second on a bunt by Jake Mort, and advanced to third on a single by Belfonte. Newmann uncorked a wild throw on a pickoff attempt, allowing Abeita to score and Belfonte to move to third. Belfonte scored on a two-out infield single by Brown.
A one-out walk to Tezak and a double to left by Andy Gerch chased Newmann from the game. Kiel Renfro entered and Abeita promptly singled to score Tezak. Gerch scored on a fielder’s choice by Mort to make the score 6-1.
Newmann (4-1) lasted just 5 1/3 innings and allowed six runs – four earned – on four hits. He struck out five and walked three.
The Huskers scratched again in the top of the seventh with another unearned run to increase their lead to 7-1. Wehrle was hit by a pitch to start the inning, moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Opitz.
Hicks tagged his fifth home run of the year, a three-run shot in the seventh to get the Aggies back to within three runs.
Watson (2-1) was lifted after allowing four runs on four hits in seven-complete innings of work. He struck out eight, did not issue a walk, and hit four batters.
The Aggies threatened in the eighth, but reliever Zach Herr came on to retire Luke Anders to end the inning with runners on first and third and two outs.
A four-run ninth by the Huskers put the game out of reach.
Herr retired the side in the ninth to record his second save of the year.
NEB – 100 122 104 – 11 9 0
A&M – 000 100 300 – 4 5 7
NEB: Watson, Weber (8), Herr (8) and Abeita; A&M: Newmann, Renfro (6), Campfield (9) and C. Stinson.
E – A&M: Hicks 2 (10), Stouffer (6), Colligan (3), Dalton (6), Newmann (3), Renfro (2)
2B – NEB: Tezak (8), Gerch (5)
3B – NEB: Tezak (1)
HR – A&M: Hicks (5), Colligan (4)
Win – Watson (2-1) Loss – Newmann (4-1) Save – Herr (2)
T – 2:50
A – 3,851