Nebraska concluded its defacto round-robin weekend with Ohio State and Iowa by dropping a game to each in the double header Sunday in Minneapolis.
Game 1: Ohio State
In the first game of the day, the Huskers got off to a strong start vs the Buckeyes, with Spencer Schwellenbach drilling a ball down the left field line to score Mojo Hagge all the way from 1st base. He then scored a couple batters later when Freshman Jack Steil picked up his 4th RBI of the season on a ground out to the SS. Nebraska starting pitcher Shay Shanaman started hot as well, retiring the first 6 batters he faced.
Ohio State pitcher Will Pfenning settled down after his rocky start, and the rest of their team followed suit. After a couple hard hit singles in the 3rd inning, the Buckeyes tied the game in the 4th inning on a long 2-run home run to the deepest part of the park, by their red hot Freshman, Kade Kern.
The Buckeyes didn't stop rolling there, as leadoff hitter Sam Wilson deposited another 2-run home run to give Ohio State a 4-2 lead. That was all Pfenning needed, as he was in the midst of retiring 13 Husker hitters in order.
It wasn't until a leadoff single by Leighton Banjoff in the 7th that Nebraska reached base again. Banjoff used good base running to unconventionally make his way around the bases via a sac bunt, wild pitch and ultimately scoring on a passed ball by OSU reliever Bayden Root to bring the deficit to 4-3.
That brought up Logan Foster, who was finally getting some more playing time due to a couple outfielders going cold for the weekend. He made the most of his opportunity by blasting a baseball that quickly got over the left field fence and tied the game at 4-4.
The Buckeyes wasted little time in retaking the lead, as senior 2B Colton Bauer hit yet a 2-run home run off NU reliever Braxton Bragg to give them a 6-4 lead. Husker hitters would go 0-6 to end the game, giving closer TJ Bock his 2nd save of the season.
Game 2: Iowa
Starting pitchers Jack Bunz (NE) and Duncan Davitt (Iowa) made quick work of the lineups the first time through the order. It was in the top of the 3rd inning that Iowa’s experience laden hitters who have been struggling in the early part of the season, finally showed some life. Back to back RBI singles by Ben Norman and Matt Sosa opened up the scoring. Norman would eventually come around to score himself, on a well executed safety squeeze play.
The Hawkeyes threatened again in the 5th, with runners on 1st and 2nd and 1 out. Then on a base hit to CF, Norman would try to score his 2nd run of the game, but would be gunned down on a perfect throw from Husker CF Jaxon Hallmark. The bad base running continued as the other Iowa baserunner overran 2nd base and was eventually caught in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd base.
Hallmark took that momentum to the batters box and would finally end the Huskers hitless day in the 6th, with a bunt single to the pitcher. Spencer Schwellenbach would get hit on the next play, but the Husker threat would end with a 1-4-3 double play ball from Max Anderson, as the Hawkeye pitchers continued their great fielding weekend.
Leighton Banjoff led off the 7th with a double down the LF line, and brought an end to Davitt’s day on the mound. Logan Foster continued his hot day, as he drove Banjoff in with a double of his own. He would be stranded in scoring position as Nebraska Seniors Luke Roskam and Joe Acker would both fly out to end the inning.
The leadoff hitters reached in both the 8th and 9th innings for Nebraska, but never got to 2nd base in either occasion. The Huskers were held to 4 hits on the game, but did cut down on the strikeouts that have plagued them this season. The star of the day was the bullpen, where Cody Frank, Cam Wynne, and Caleb Feekin combined to throw 5 innings of shutout ball, only allowing 4 hits over that span.
Each of the 3 teams lost their respective double header games they played on the weekend, and finished with a 2-2 record. Nebraska has a chance to avenge their latest loss, as they take their 5-3 record to Iowa City for a 3 game series with the now 3-5 Hawkeyes starting Friday, March 14th at 4:00 CDT.