Hide the women and children, this series has gotten ugly. The Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-6) blasted the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-9) through the first two games of the weekend series to the tune of 31-5. For those wanting a little shock value, these are the same Bulldogs who beat 2011 CWS participant Vanderbilt 9-3 two weeks ago. For those wanting a little reality, Vanderbilt is just 7-10 so far this year and LaTech has lost 6 of their last 8 contests, including a 3-1 loss in Omaha against the Creighton Bluejays on Wednesday.
Even still, its been an impressive showing for the Huskers so far against the Bulldogs. NU messed around for a bit on Thursday before ultimately pulling away for a 9-2 win. Today, they were aided by a full scale Bulldog meltdown in a 22-3 win. Nebraska really seems to be building some momentum as they've now decisively won four straight games and have absolutely blown LaTech's doors off so far in the series. What's more, Nebraska hitters ate deep into the Bulldog bullpen on both days, stretching an already thin pitching staff, raising hopes that NU will be able to break out the brooms after Sunday's game.Thursday's game was actually closer than the final score indicated, as LaTech held within three runs of the Huskers until the 8th inning. Starting pitchers were Zach Hirsch for NU and Phil Maton for the Bulldogs. Both had respectable days from the mound, particularly Hirsch who gave up just five hits and two runs through five and one third innings of service. Maton did not last quite as long, but with the perspective offered by today's game, four runs on seven hits through four and two thirds innings is a fairly decent outing. The real action came in the bottom of the 8th inning, as the Huskers managed to plate four runs and put the game out of reach. In a highly unusual moment, Cory Burleson managed an inside the park home run when a shot to center field was missed by a diving Sam Alvis and rolled all the way to the wall. After Rich Sanguinetti got aboard, Chad Christensen got his third hit of the game in the form of NU's second home run of the inning, giving NU its final margin of victory, 9-2.
W: Zach Hirsch, NU (2-1)
L: Phil Maton, LTU (3-1)
S: Brandon Pierce, NU (1)
Today's game at Haymarket park was never in doubt. NU starter Jon Keller gave up a few scattered hits, but only two runs in six innings of service. On the opposite end of the spectrum, LaTech starter Trevor Petersen had what was almost certainly the worst outing of his career. His stat line: 4 hits, 6 walks, 6 runs allowed and 74 (!!!) pitches thrown in TWO. INNINGS. OF SERVICE. Considering the Huskers left runners on second and third in the 1st inning and left them loaded at the end of the 2nd, it could've been much, much worse. Things did get much worse for the Bulldogs' relief staff, however, as Husker batters piled up ten doubles and two home runs (Chad Christensen and Kale Kiser) in the game. LaTech pitchers were forced to throw 192 pitches in eight innings of play which should be a point of deep concern to Bulldog fans hoping to steal a win either on Saturday or Sunday.
W: Jon Keller, NU (3-0)
L: Trevor Petersen, LTU (1-2)
22: NU runs today, the most since 2004. This team is showing signs of an offense on par with top tier teams like Cal.
9: NU's wins in the last 11 contests.
Strong batting. Solid pitching. Good fielding. Very impressive run by NU.
Our opponent. Particularly today, Louisiana Tech has been utterly inept. As well as NU seems to be playing, it's hard to get much of a read on things when your opponent is playing so poorly.
All known information so far points to two more lopsided Husker wins en route to the first series sweep of the year. Can Erstad keep his team up against an apparently overmatched Bulldog squad?
Player of the Series (so far):
Chad Christensen, NU: 5 hits, 2 home runs, 6 RBIs.....loads of offense so far this weekend, but you can't top that.
The Huskers play this same Louisiana Tech team tomorrow at Haymarket Park. First pitch goes out at 1:35.
(I deliberately abbreviated this recap because I'm well aware that everyone wants to keep track of the Craziness of March, including myself).
With that, have a good night, enjoy some basketball! (and giggle at the fact that Missouri hoops still has the same number of national titles as Nebrasketball).