One game, one series, take your pick.
That's what today came down to.
Entering today, the Huskers were 29-29 on the season. The NCAA doesn't select at-large teams under .500, so the only way Nebraska would have made the tourney was to win today.
That's a damned shame, because other than a single inning against Ohio State early in the tournament in which the Huskers walked in a run, Nebraska played about as well as they could.
The pundits were clear - the winner of the Nebraska/Ohio State game would get Indiana and would be crushed by them Saturday night. It didn't work out that way, as the Huskers battled the Hoosiers through 11 innings, coming back from a 5-2 deficit to lead 6-5, and then take the win with a Tanner Lubach home run in the 11th.
Today, then, would be the day that the Hoosiers rolled.
Indiana took a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning when Tanner Lubach again came through, hitting a sacrifice fly to score Kash Kalkowski from third to tie the game.
It would stay that way until the bottom of the ninth.
Kyle Kubat started the game for the Huskers. He went five innings and gave up only one run, an incredible outing for a guy who had pitched just three days earlier and had missed the majority of Nebraska's season with arm soreness.
Compare that to Indiana's Will Coursen-Carr, who threw a complete game, giving up three runs, and you have the difference between these teams as the Huskers have had difficult with their bullpen all season.
Brandon Pierce would enter the game in the sixth, lasting less than an inning as he gave up a double and then hit a batter. Luke Bublitz, who made his third appearance in the tournament, replaced him. Pat Kelly committed a throwing error trying to rush a double play and that allowed the Hoosiers to score a run, making it 3-1.
Nebraska would strike back in the seventh, scoring a run when Pat Kelly drove in Austin Darby with a two-out single. There might have been more, as the bases were loaded for Chad Christensen, but he lined out to the shortstop.
In the end, Nebraska just didn't have enough left. The game entered the ninth inning tied, but in the bottom of the ninth, the Hoosiers loaded the bases, and some son of a bitch hit a single and that's all it took.
What do we get from this?
I'll do a season review in a few days, but right now, what we got was a team that was a lot better than last year. We saw a Husker team that was willing to fight its guts out. Unfortunately, this Husker team had to be taken to the edge of an abyss to realize that. If they had realized it in one more game (cough, cough MICHIGAN), then they'd be a NCAA tourney team.
One game. One.
Perhaps Darin Erstad can use that as motivation for next year's team so as they get it early on and play every game like their lives are coming to an end.
From Nebraska baseball dude Jeremy Foote:
Eight seniors played their final game in a Husker uniform on Sunday, including Chad Christensen, Ryan Hander, BryanPeters, Tyler Niederklein, Josh Scheffert, Kash Kalkowski, Dylan Vogt and Rich Sanguinetti.
What are we going to do without Kash KASH MONEY KALKOWSKI????