Published Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm / Updated at 10:33 pm
DeLeon leads Huskers past Ohio State

MINNEAPOLIS — Nebraska's Christian DeLeon hadn't pitched in two weeks, and it showed early, when the junior quickly realized he didn't have his best stuff.

But once DeLeon settled in Saturday afternoon at the Big Ten tournament, the right-hander was as effective as he's been, shutting out the Ohio State offense for eight innings and leading Nebraska to a season-extending 5-0 win at Target Field.

The Huskers (28-29) will now face No. 1 seed Indiana (42-13) at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. They need a win to extend the tournament one more day and earn a shot at the title Sunday. The Hoosiers would lock up a championship with one win.

It will be up to Nebraska's bullpen to hold off Indiana, the Big Ten's best offense. Senior closer Dylan Vogt is slated to start the game.

But DeLeon's strong outing in an elimination game against the No. 2 seed Buckeyes (35-23) Saturday was just about the best case scenario for No. 3 seed NU, keeping its relievers fresh.

DeLeon, sidelined for a week with elbow soreness, gave up five hits on an afternoon when he never quite had a great feel for his slider and changeup. But he did just enough to escape a few early jams to allow his offense to eventually take control.

“I just tried to stay away from their bats, tried to stay low,” DeLeon said. “They've got some good hitters. They're a good ball team.”

The Buckeyes had won the last three games against Nebraska, including a 3-2 walk-off Thursday that dropped the Huskers' into the tournament loser's bracket.

But NU eliminated No. 4 seed Minnesota 7-4 Friday — starting senior Ryan Hander instead of DeLeon, who'd been Nebraska's No. 1 starting pitcher before the injury.

NU coach Darin Erstad characterized that decision as a gamble, but the risky move paid off Saturday.

DeLeon did have a shaky start, walking the first batter he faced before throwing away a pickoff attempt. But he retired the next three Ohio State hitters to escape the threat.

“After that first inning, I kind of knew what I needed to do throughout the game,” DeLeon said.

He attacked inside on hitters with his fastball early, then worked the outside of the strike zone later on

DeLeon gave up a few hard-hit fly balls, but seemed to gain confidence as the game progressed. He threw 42 pitches in the first three innings, and 58 in the five frames after that.

DeLeon was especially tough when the pressure was at its highest. He didn't give up a hit in the eight at-bats OSU had with a runner in scoring position.

That was deflating for a Buckeye offense that had struggled lately, scoring three runs or fewer in its last 11 games.

“We could have had a two-run lead going into the fourth inning, if we just move the ball to the middle of the field and we hit lazy fly balls,” OSU coach Greg Beals said

DeLeon made it tough, though. And it was his resiliency early, keeping Ohio State off the scoreboard, that seemed to spark the NU dugout a big and the Huskers capitalized on the momentum in the fourth.

Senior Rich Sanguinetti led the inning off with a double, then scored to make it 1-0 on junior Michael Pritchard's single back through the middle. After senior Kash Kalkowski reached, sophomore Blake Headley ripped a 2-2 pitch into right-center field for a two-run, two-out double.

Nebraska added two more runs on Chad Christensen's one-out single in the eighth inning, extending the lead to 5-0.

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Jon Nyatawa    |   402-473-9585    |  

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football and baseball, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008.



< >
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.'s Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
< >