IRVINE, Calif. --- UC Irvine was unable to come up with the clutch hit, leaving the bases loaded twice, including in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-1 loss to Nebraska Saturday at Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark.
Starter Matt Whitehouse held the Huskers scoreless through six, scattering four hits while striking out five.
However, Josh Scheffert opened the seventh with a come-backer off the foot of Whitehouse for an infield single and Kash Kalkowski was hit by the pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. Austin Darby's sacrifice bunt was gloved by Whitehouse but the lefty's toss to Taylor Sparks got past the third baseman, allowing Scheffert to take third and score on the error. With the infield playing in, Tanner Lubach grounded out to shortstop Chris Rabago for the first out but Bryan Peters laced a two-run single to left to give Nebraska a 3-0 lead.
Chad Christensen led off the eighth with a solo home run against reliever Kyle Hooper for the four-run advantage.
Reliever Zach Hirsch picked up for Hander in the fifth with one out and a runner on third but set down the next two batters and retired 10 consecutive batters before yielding a two-out single to Connor Spencer in the eighth.
Taylor Sparks hit a solo shot over the left centerfield wall for his second round-tripper of the year to lead off the ninth. Nebraska turned to closer Dylan Vogt, who walked three straight batters as the Anteaters loaded the bases with no outs. Nebraska handed the ball to Josh Roeder, who retired the next three batters to record his first save of the season.
Whitehouse fell to 2-2 after giving up three runs on six hits in seven innings of work. Hooper yielded a run on two hits in 2/3 innings while Jimmy Litchfield and Race Parmenter combined for 1.1 inning of hitless relief.
Hirsch picked up the win to improve to 1-1 after holding UCI to a run on two hits in 3.2 innings. Kalkowski led the team with two hits while Peters drove in two runs.
The two teams close out the series Sunday at 1:00 p.m.