After being pushed back multiple times due to weather and scheduling issues, the Huskers finally returned to play baseball in the state of Nebraska. In what was their first visit to the Omaha Mavericks baseball/softball complex that opened in 2020, which had a record crowd of 3,009 fans (and one concession stand), the Huskers would be walked off in the bottom of the 9th on a bloop single to lose, 4-3. This despite the career day from Husker freshman Core Jackson.
Jackson was the star on offense and defense for Nebraska, as he made his first start at SS, trying to solve the puzzle that has been one of the surprising weaknesses for the Huskers to start the season. Jackson opened up the scoring for Nebraska, driving in fellow freshman Josh Caron on an RBI single to center field to make it 1-0 Nebraska in the 2nd inning.
Omaha would finally get to Husker starting pitcher Koty Frank in the 3rd, using a double, an error on bunt coverage by Nebraska, and a 2 run home run by Maverick 3B Mike Boeve over the left-center field wall to make it 3-1 Omaha. That was one of the few pressure situations Frank would face on the day, as he would retire the next 9 straight hitters. This stretched included a dazzling play by the aforementioned Jackson, who dove fully extended on a ball up the middle, slid a full body length before hopping up and throwing a bullet that first baseman Colby Gomes scooped up off the turf to barely beat the Omaha runner.
The score would remain the same until the 6th inning, when Caron would again reach base, this time on a 2 out error by the Mavericks short stop, that should have ended the inning. As happens so often in baseball, the next pitch was drilled over the wall, again by Core Jackson, to tie the game up at 3-3 in the 6th.
Kyle Perry entered in relief of Frank in the 6th, and held the Mavericks scoreless for 3 innings before being sent out again after a discussion by the coaches for the 9th, with a pitcher warm in the pen. He would strike out the first batter, but then give up a double, and game winning RBI bloop single on back to back pitches.
This drops the reeling Huskers to 4-9 on the season. While they seem to have righted their pitching woes that plagued them early on in the season to a respectable level, the hitters going 3-30 (Brice Matthews was the only other player to record a hit) with 11 strikeouts against an Omaha team with a 5-9 record, is the biggest glaring stat of the day. It had head coach Will Bolt visibly fuming during the post game talk with both the team and reporters.
On a team that is unable to count on any offensive player back from last years championship team, they continue to start a large number of freshman, looking for anyone to catch fire and have multiple good games in a row. We’ve seen Luke Jessen, Garrett Anglim, and Josh Caron have a good game here and there, but not consistently. This is to be expected of Freshmen. Maybe today was the beginning of Core Jackson taking control of his spot in the lineup, and maybe more importantly, on the diamond. If Nebraska is going to start to turn things around, it needs to be.
Nebraska will face Omaha again on Monday, March 14th at 1pm, as the Huskers will finally have their home opener at Haymarket Park in Lincoln.