The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Baseball team entered Sunday knowing if they took care of business and the cards fell their way, they could be Big Ten Champions for the second time in five years. If you remember back to that Sunday five years ago in State College, you will recall Nebraska did not mess around, jumping all over Penn State early and often on the way to a 21-3 championship clinching win. They had that same look about them on this day.
Kyle Perry, one of the emotional leaders of this team, took to the mound and acted like it was 2019. Still recovering from an arm injury sustained less than a year ago, Perry knew he would get an inning, maybe 2 if things went perfectly. And it did. Perry dominated, striking out two in the inning and handing the momentum over to the offense.
Joe Acker got it started as he has numerous times this season, with a double to center. After Spencer Schwellenbach was hit by a pitch, Luke Roskam opened up the scoring with a hard hit single to center. But it was Schwellenbach taking advantage of a bobble by Ohio State’s outfielder by rounding third and scoring all the way from first that really gave the Buckeyes a glimpse into how much Nebraska was going to go after this game. The Huskers would bat around and use four more singles to drive the score up to 5-0 after the first inning.
Perry finished off his outing with another strong inning, and gave way to the red hot Max Schreiber, who, after giving up a ground rule double on his first pitch, went through the Buckeye lineup like poop through a goose. He would pitch four shutout innings, striking out five batters before giving way to the next Nebraska reliever.
The offense fed off the energy from the pitchers, as well as more errors by the Buckeyes, they would have four on the day, and continued to pound the ball and run the bases aggressively. Gunner Hellstrom plated a run on a RBI sac fly in the third inning. And just when it seemed like Ohio State had a small amount of momentum go their way, after robbing a home run from Acker, Jaxon Hallmark crushed a ball right over the same outfielder to make it 7-0, and seemingly break the Buckeye’s will.
The lead would eventually get to 9-0, and with the way the Nebraska bullpen has been dialed in for this pod, that was more than enough. In fact, since being down 9-2 vs Ohio State early Saturday, the Huskers held opponents to one run over the last 20 innings of the pod, with that one run being a home run with two outs in the ninth inning versus Indiana. Not to be outdone, the offense also scored 21 runs over that same span.
With this win and the Michigan loss earlier in the day, Nebraska has now won its second conference championship since joining the Big Ten. It had to feel good for the seniors that all came back for that extra year. They were freshman on the last team to win, and took what they saw happen on that team and really led the way. Some did so on the field, having their best year in a Husker uniform, while others did so despite not having as much playing time this year compared to years past.
You can catch the champs next week in Lincoln for a rare home series versus Michigan. They won the league despite playing only 12 total home games to this point. Indiana, meanwhile, will be playing home game number 20 when it takes the field tonight. So get out there and cheer on the Huskers. With a good showing, a No. 1 seed is not out of the question for this team.