CORNHUSKERS win third straight title


Monday, May 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Dan Johnson and his Nebraska teammates struggled in the weekend before the Big 12 baseball tournament. The Cornhuskers lost two of three to Iowa State and Johnson had a poor series at the plate.

That's history now. With Johnson leading the way, Nebraska won its third straight Big 12 tournament title by beating Texas A&M, 7-4 on Sunday.

Johnson hit two, two-run homers to finish with five during the tournament. The Cornhuskers (45-14) won all four of their games to become the first Big 12 school to win the regular-season and postseason titles.

``We played at Iowa State previously and I couldn't see the ball,'' Johnson said. ``It was something about that park and I didn't like the hitter's eye and I just couldn't focus. Then we come to this park and it is just beautiful. The ball looks good and I can see real well.''

Johnson, who also had two homers in a victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday, was 3-for-4 Sunday with three runs scored and four RBIs.

Texas A&M (33-27) led 1-0 in the first inning, 2-1 in the third and tied the score at 3 in the fifth, but each time the Cornhuskers had an answer.

An RBI double by Jeff Blevins in the bottom of the first tied the score for the Cornhuskers. After A&M scored in the third on an RBI double by Jeff Freeman, Johnson homered to right to give the Huskers a 3-2 lead.

Texas A&M scored in the fifth on an RBI single by Freeman before Johnson came through again in the bottom half of the inning with his 24th homer, this one to center field.

Texas A&M pulled within 5-4 on a homer by David Evans in the seventh inning, but Nebraska scored two runs with two out in the bottom half. Josh Hesse had an RBI single and the other run scored on a passed ball.

``We didn't lose the game, they won it,'' Aggies coach Mark Johnson said. ``They showed why they are champions.

``We couldn't get momentum on our side today. They did a lot of things that champions do to win the game.''

Blevins, John Cole and Matt Hopper all had two hits for the Cornhuskers. Freeman had three hits for A&M.

R.D. Spiehs (7-3) went 6 1/3 innings for the victory, striking out 11 and giving up eight hits. Thom Ott pitched the final two innings for his tenth save.

Kyle Parcus (3-2) was the losing pitcher.