Fayetteville, Ark- Come Back and Hold On.
In possibly the most Nebraska like game of the season, the Huskers fought back adversity and found a way to win. Cade Povich did not pitch well, but the bullpen came through in a big way and the offense had enough timely hitting that Nebraska has moved into the winners bracket for a date with the #1 Arkansas Razorbacks tomorrow night.
Both teams went scoreless in the first inning before the Huskies cracked the scoreboard in the second. Danny Crossen launched a solo home run off of Povich to leadoff the inning. Povich got an unconventional double play to keep the Huskies off the board when Jaxon Hallmark threw to Spencer Schwellenbach and relayed to Max Anderson who tagged the runner out at third.
After the Huskers were held scoreless, Northeastern added three more runs in the third. The Huskies got a single, double, two run single, walk and a wild pitch. A pickoff and a failed bunt attempt ended the inning with the Huskies up 4-0.
Mojo Hagge got the Huskers first hit of the game with a one out single. He was joined in the hit parade by Griffin Everitt, but the Huskers were unable to push any runs across.
After Northeastern got a pair of runners on with just one out, Nebraska went to the bullpen and brought in Koty Frank in relief of Povich. Frank came on and got the first two batters he faced to end the top of the fourth.
Schwellenbach led off the Husker fourth with a single through the right side. Luke Roskam missed a home run by feet that was foul, but he flied out for the first out. A fielder’s choice by Max Anderson replaced Schwellenbach at first. Brice Matthews walked to put a pair on for Cam Chick. Chick turned on a 2-0 inside fastball and cut the Husker deficit to one with a home run towards the scoreboard in right field. Hagge singled and stole second to put the tying run on second, but a strikeout by Everitt ended the inning.
After Frank set down the Huskies in order, Nebraska tied the game in the fifth. Hallmark launched a ball into the right field gap for a one out triple and scored on a Schwellenbach sacrifice fly. Roskam struck out for the third out.
Again, Frank got a three up and three down inning in the sixth, Nebraska put up another crocked number. Matthews started the rally with a solid one out single. Chick walked on a 3-2 count to bring up Hagge. Against a shift, Hagge and the Huskers executed the hit and run to perfection to score Matthews. A balk brought in Chick, before a two out Joe Acker single scored Hagge to make it a 7-4 game.
Frank continued on cruise control, not allowing a base runner in the seventh.
Nebraska was able to add another run in a very confusing play in the bottom of the inning. Roskam beat the shift with a hard hit ball into center field. Anderson followed with a solid single to put runners on the corners. Nebraska then attempted a double steal with Anderson being thrown out at second but Roskam scoring on the play.
The umpires originally ruled interference, but according to the rule book “if the catcher retires the runner, then the interference never happened.” The Huskers were credited with their eighth run of the game and it was a 8-4 Husker lead after the seventh.
Frank finally ran out of gas and walked the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning. Nebraska made the move to the bullpen and brought in Jake Bunz. Bunz hit the first batter he saw to load the bases. A strikeout put the Huskers just a pitch away from getting out of the inning. Instead, Northeastern responded with a two run single.
With the tying run at first base, Schwellenbach was called on for the five out save. A fielder’s choice which was reviewed and determined to not be a double play ball got the Huskers the second out of the inning. A hit batter loaded the bases, but a groundball to Roskam who threw to Schwellenbach covering ended the Huskies threat.
Nebraska had a chance to tack on more insurance in the eighth inning, but a pair of great defensive plays kept the score 8-6. Hagge was robbed of extra bases with a leaping grab at second base for the second out. After Everitt doubled, Acker singled but Everitt was thrown out at the plate on a bang bang play to end the eighth.
Schwellenbach gave up a leadoff single to start the ninth inning. He got Jared Dupere, the leading home run man on the Huskies to stare at strike three on the outside corner for the first out. A pop up to Anderson was the second out of the inning. The second hit batter of the night by Schwellenbach brought the go ahead run to the plate, but a groundball back to him and over to Roskam at first moved the Huskers into the winners bracket.
Nebraska now advances to face the Arkansas Razorbacks who were 13-8 winners over NJIT earlier. Arkansas was not sharp and had to turn to their star closer in the fourth inning. The bad news for the Huskers is that they saved their star left hander Patrick Wicklander. But as Hallmark said best “Don’t Care” WE WILL SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT.