After a huge rally in defeat on Friday and an impressive win yesterday, the Huskers (9-6) came into today's game at Haymarket Park hoping to ride the momentum to a 2-1 series lead over the California Golden Bears (11-3). Did not happen. In front of 2,351 fans on a cold and wet day, the Huskers struggled mightily against six different Cal pitchers, registering just three hits and suffering their first shutout loss of the year.
From my point of view, it looked like a lazy day at the plate for the NU batters, who watched strike after strike go by, falling behind in the count and then popping up or grounding out after just three or four pitches. By contrast, the Cal hitters battled in every at bat, fouling off pitches, forcing the NU pitchers to throw strikes and eating deep in to the count seemingly every time they stepped up to the plate. Their efforts paid off as Cal managed to gut out four runs on 13 hits in spite of a game effort by Husker pitchers Tom Lemke and Dylan Vogt.
Recap of Husker batting through six innings: No runs, no hits.
In the top of the 7th, Cal did a nice job of manufacturing a run, starting off with an Oh single and using sacrifices to move him around the base paths before Darrell Matthews brought him home with an RBI double. Lemke was then removed from the game, having pitched 6 and two thirds innings allowing three runs. Solid outing by him. In the bottom of the 7th, Nebraska picked up its first base hit on a Kash Kalkowski single, but couldn't do anything with it. Cal picked up its fourth run in a Krist RBI double in the top of the ninth. A brief flicker of hope for the Huskers in the form of a Chad Christensen single was quickly erased as Rich Stock hit into a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the 9th. Kalkowski flew out, completing the shutout loss.
W: Kyle Porter, Cal (2-0)
L: Tom Lemke, NU (1-1)
6: Number of pitchers Cal used today. Interesting strategy, likely aimed at keeping the Huskers off balance while not straining their fatigued pitching staff. It worked like a charm, although I'm doubtful the Huskers could've teed off on any pitcher today.
2: The number of outs on the board when Cal drove in all four of their runs. Perfection isn't a realistic expectation but the Huskers have to find ways to get off the field when they've got 2 down.
Solid outing by Husker pitchers Lemke and Vogt. No shame in giving up four runs to Cal, the hitting just wasn't there today.
Poor, poor effort by the Huskers at the plate today. They faced many of the same pitchers that they lit up the previous two days and made them look like All Americans. I think we'll see better play tomorrow.
Mother Nature: Bring our warm sunny weather back! It was cold and misty at the park today and fans and players alike seemed to just want to get out of there.
Was today's game a sign of immaturity and inconsistency for the Huskers, or just a one game stumble?
Players of the Game:
Cal pitchers Kyle Porter, Trevor Hildenberger, Matt Evanoff, Keaton Siomkin, Chris Muse-Fisher, and Joey Donofrio. After the Cal pitching staff got roughed up in games one and two by the Huskers, these guys combined for a shutout and a three hitter against NU.
Nebraska drops to 9-6 on the year. They play the Bears tomorrow at 12:05 at Haymarket Park for the series finale.