Nebraska Forces Big Ten Championship Game After Walk-Off Home Run

May 25, 2013

Nebraska forced a Game 11 when Tanner Lubach hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 11th inning in a 7-6 walk-off win over No. 1 seed Indiana. In the double elimination tournament, both Nebraska and Indiana have now lost once and will play for the tournament championship and NCAA automatic bid, tomorrow, 12:05 p.m. at Target Field.

Four home runs were hit in the game, two by both teams. Along with Lubach's walk-off, Kash Kalkowski went 4-5 with four RBI and scored two runs. Luke Bublitz earned the win (4-1), while Ryan Halstead (3-4) picked up the loss. Nebraska starter Dylan Vogt went 7.0 innings pitched, gave up 10 runs, five earned runs, walked one and struck out two. Indiana starter Kyle Hart pitched 5.0 innings, allowed three runs and struck out three.

Nebraska took an early 2-0 lead when Kash Kalkowski hit a two-run home run. Chad Christensen started things off when he singled though the right side and came home on Kalkowski's third home run of the season. Indiana responded when it also had a two-run from the bat of Kyle Schwarber, his second of the tournament and 16th of the season. After Will Nolden singled, Schwarber hit one off the left field foul pole to tie the game. Indiana added three more runs when Sam Travis hit a line-shot, upper deck home run to left field, scoring three runs and jumping up, 5-2.
Nebraska, however, came back in the bottom of the sixth when it plated two and cut Indiana's lead to one. Kalkowski doubled down the left field line and scored Michael Pritchard, who led off the inning with a single. Blake Headley delivered a RBI single and scored Kalkowski for Nebraska's fourth run. The Hoosiers got Nebraska to strand two runners in that inning to hold onto the one-run lead.

The Huskers, however, tied the game when Christensen singled in Bryan Peters and Kalkowski had his fourth hit of the game and fourth RBI on the contest to take a 6-5 lead. Indiana tied the game in the top of the ninth when it had two doubles in the inning. Dustin DeMuth hit a one-out double and moved to third on a fly out. Ricky Alfonso pinch hit and delivered a double just inside the right field line to plate the tying run.

Tanner Lubach earned his first hit in 17 tournament at bats when he hit a solo home run into the left field for the game-winning walk-off hit. On a 1-1 count, Lubach sent it into the left field bleachers for his second home run of the season. 

Postgame Quotes

Nebraska Head Coach Darin Erstad

On nerves of trying to find pitchers…
“No, you are given a set of circumstances throughout the game of baseball so you just work with it. You try to execute and if it works, it works and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. So you just go on to the next pitch and go on to that, it does not get much deeper than that.”

On decision to keep Dylan in…
“I don’t think he would have let me take him out any earlier. With Dylan his arm is very resilient, if you ask him a couple times how he is doing he will say he is fine. With being a sinker-baller, If he gets a little tight or loses some velocity, his ball stills sinks so he is able to get outs and get ground balls. So he was able to do that today.”

Tanner Lubach

On approach of hitting the home run…
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard and was just trying to find a way on base. We needed to push a run across and it just kind of happened.”

On confidence after struggling for a while in the tournament..
“I have been pressing so much in the last couple days. I had zeros with my batting average, so I just wanted to help us win. So I am starting to press in that area and just told myself there is no pressure right here. I have nothing to lose, but it all worked out.”

Dylan Vogt

On feeling that they have capitalized on going to the championship game..
“Yeah I mean it was a long day. In the second game there I almost completely forgot that we have played a game before that. It just came down to grinding it out. We have been doing it all year, basically trying to push runs across.”

Kash Kalkowski

On having a good day at bat…
“The pitches I had were just good pitches, so I had a good day.”

Summarizing the last 48 hours…
“It is awesome, we are here to battle and we are ready for tomorrow.”

Indiana Head Coach Tracey Smith

Opening Statement…
 “That was a heck of a baseball game there. I thought both teams made plays, the kid [Vogt] made some quality pitches. It was just a really good baseball game. We look at it as a long season, it’s just one game, and we haven’t won or lost the championship yet. Someone told me that was that kid’s first hit of the tournament, he hit a home run. Good for him, he’ll remember that the rest of his life. Just a really good baseball game; we just came out on the wrong side of it today.”

Shortstop Michael Basil

On Alfonso’s game-tying hit…
“In the end, we have seen Ricky do that, he has been clutch in pinch-hit situations for us all year. We had all the confidence in the world that he could deliver. We were excited, but definitely not surprised.”

On the game tomorrow…
“We still have a chance to win a Big Ten baseball Championship tomorrow and that’s what we came here to do. We are not out of it at all, we still have our goal in front of us. We still have a chance to do exactly what we want to do.”

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