After a good matchup Friday night, where a pitch or two made all the difference in the 4-1 game, Nebraska and #17 ranked TCU were back at it Saturday afternoon. It looked like Nebraska was going to continue to compete as Husker lead off hitter Leighton Banjoff led off the game with a stand up double. That was about the only good thing to happen for the Huskers in the first third of the game.
The story of the first couple of weeks of the season has been strikeouts by the Husker hitters, averaging over 11 a game, and free passes issues by the pitchers, especially the starters. Those numbers popped up right away to haunt Nebraska yet again, as the next two Huskers struck out before Cam Chick continued his early season struggles with a pop up, stranding Banjoff on 2nd base.
Shay Schanaman started on the mound for Nebraska, and just never had a feel for the fastball. A 6 pitch walk, followed by a 2 run HR set the tone for his start early on. Despite recording all 4 outs via the strikeout, Schanaman was lifted with 1 out in the second with 3 walks, 2 HBP, and a wild pitch leading to Coach Will Bolt pulling the early trigger. This was the 3rd time in the Huskers 6 games that the starting pitcher failed to make it out of the 2nd inning.
TCU would score 3 more in the 3rd off Husker reliever Ethan Bradford, while TCU starting pitcher Riley Cornelius retired 10 straight NU batters after giving up the lead off double. He would strike out 7 Huskers in his 6 innings of work. His lone blemish was a 2 run home run by Cam Chick in the 4th inning that seemed momentarily provide a spark to what was a listless Nebraska team up to that point.
The defense would answer to make a couple big plays in the 4th, with Core Jackson gunning a runner out at home with the infield in, and Catcher Griffin Everitt throwing a runner out at 2nd by a few steps. The two teams would add a run each, with an RBI double from TCU in the 6th, joining the absolute bomb from Nebraska 1st baseman/closer Colby Gomes in the 7th inning, that hit the 2nd deck in the MLB stadium.
The Horned Frogs wasted no time responding in the bottom of the 7th and really took control of the game. Fueled by 3 walks and a hit by pitch, TCU took an 8-3 lead, which would end up being the final tally, as TCU wins the series.
So the story continues to be the same. Having unproductive outs is not going to win you games vs good competition. Sure, TCU has a good pitching staff, but double digit strikeouts yet again is not going to get it done. And by the same token, issuing double digit free passes is just a recipe for disaster no matter who you are facing. Nebraska will have to get those two issues solved to get the trajectory of their season pointed in the right direction.
The 1-5 Huskers look to do so by salvaging the last game of the series Sunday at 1pm, back at Globe Life Field where Dawson McCarville (0-0) will take the mound for NU against Brett Walker (1-0) for TCU.