It was close early, but then it was not. The Nebraska Cornhuskers scored fourteen runs in the fourth and fifth innings combined and cruised to an 18-4 victory in an elimination contest on Sunday afternoon. Joe Acker went 4-5 for the Huskers and Shay Schanaman made possibly his best start of the season for a Nebraska pitching staff needing all the help it can get.
Schanaman worked around a two out error by Cam Chick at second to put up a zero on the scoreboard.
The Huskers took an early lead thanks to Acker. He tripled off the wall in dead center field to start the Husker first. He would come around and score on a fielder’s choice off that bat of Luke Roskam. Roskam barely beat out a double play after Spencer Schwellenbach had walked to put runners on the corners.
Acker doubled the Husker lead in the third inning when he got a flyball up into the jet stream in left field for the Huskers second home run of the regional.
The Highlanders cut the lead in half thanks to a long home run off the bat of Matthew Cocciadiferro. Shay would walk another in the fourth, but he got back to back punchouts to send the Huskers back to the dugout.
Grant Vurpillat hit Chick with his first pitch of the fourth inning and then walked Matthews to put a pair on. The Highlanders went to the bullpen and brought in Croix Jenkins. Jenkins gave up a single on a bunt to Mojo Hagge to load the bases. Logan Foster flied out for a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Acker, Jaxon Hallmark, Schwellenbach, and Griffin Everitt all had run scoring hits. Chick then hit an inside the park home run to make it 10-1.
Nebraska added six more runs in the fifth inning. Schwellenbach had a two RBI single. Roskam and Chick added RBI doubles before Matthews hit a home run to center field.
A fielding error by defensive replacement Efry Cervantes allowed the Highlanders to score one in the seventh inning.
The Huskers got that run back when Gunner Hellstrom doubled in Roskam who had been hit by a pitch in the bottom of the seventh.
Caleb Feekin came in and relieved Schanaman in the eighth. He gave up a walk and a two run home run to make it 17-4 but nothing else.
Hallmark added the Huskers 18th run of the game when he homered to center field in the bottom of the eighth. Cervantes managed to collect a base hit but the Huskers stranded the bases loaded.
Braxton Bragg came in and worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning. The Huskers now advance to face the Arkansas Razorbacks and must win two games, while Arkansas only needs one win to advance to the Super Regionals. This is the first time since 2007 Nebraska will be playing in the Regional Final.
As of writing, Nebraska has not named a starting pitcher for tonight’s game.