In a weekend that Nebraska Baseball had record crowds come out to Haymarket Park for weather that even the Chamber of Commerce could not have done better ordering, the Huskers came out blazing and won all three games versus Penn St. this weekend, and guaranteed their berth in the Big Ten Tournament at TD Ameritrade park in Omaha.
The Huskers (32-17 overall, 13-5 B1G) used plenty of hitting and some well done spot relief work to take care of Penn St. (17-26 overall, 5-12 B1G) and stay in second place in the conference along with Illinois, trailing only Indiana.
Eight different Huskers registered multiple hits and slapping out 21 hits in total as Big Red took the series opener 13-3 on Friday evening.
Ryan Boldt had a 4 hit game, while Blake Headley and Taylor Fish had themselves a 3 hit game each. Headley, Michael Pritchard, and Pat Kelly had 3 RBI's each.
Chance Sinclair, bumped up from a Saturday start due to Christian DeLeon not being available, put in solid work going 6 1/3 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 earned runs but also getting 3 strikeouts. Bob Greco and Luke Bublitz combined for a perfect final 8 outs for Nebraska.
In front of the biggest crowd that had come out to Hawks Field in two years, Nebraska put up 7 runs in the first 3 innings and Aaron Bummer cruised through 7 innings as Nebraska took the series with a 9-2 wins in front of over 6000 fans.
Ryan Boldt was the man who paced the offensive attack with 3 RBI's and Kelly and Austin Darby both went deep for the Huskers, the second game this year that Nebraska registered 2 homers in a game.
Bummer gave up 4 hits and 4 walks with 1 earned run, but also got 6 strikeouts in his 96 pitches. Jake Hohensee pitched the final 2 innings to end the game, giving up one run also.
Nebraska took advantage of the early 11am start with the energy of the Lincoln Marathon being ran to come back from their first deficit of the series with 5 runs in the fourth inning, and the bullpen went by committee to get the 8-4 victory and the sweep.
Nebraska trailed the Lions 3-1 in the middle of the 4th inning when the Huskers loaded up the bases with none out. RBI groundouts by Ryan Boldt and Michael Pritchard tied up the game at 3, and Pat Kelly drove 2 in with a single to center field and Headley singled to score Kelly. That made the game 6-3 Huskers, which was a lead they would never give back.
Kyle Kubat, who started Wednesday against Nebraska-Omaha, could not get through 4 innings on Sunday, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits before being relieved by Bob Greco, who gave up 1 run on 2 hits in his 1 2/3 innings. Zack Hirsch worked 2 2/3 of long relief and Josh Roeder came in to clean up the 9th.
- Nearly 14,000 paid fans came through the gates at Haymarket Park this weekend to see Nebraska play baseball. The 13,944 is a season high for a weekend this year for Nebraska.
- Penn State now has lost their last 12 games.
- Nebraska's RPI actually dropped from 42 to 44 after this weekend, which was clearly a result of playing the Nittany Lions. Hence, the reason for the need to sweep Penn St, as a series loss would have been disastrous.
- Illinois kept pace with the Huskers, as they swept Michigan St. this weekend at home. Indiana, meanwhile, ran train on Purdue in Bloomington this weekend, sweeping the set.
- No mid-week games for Nebraska this weekend, as finals will take up the free time for all the players. Next weekend, the Huskers will travel to East Lansing for a set with Michigan State. This will be the final time Nebraska has to go on the road for a series this year until NCAA Tournament time.