New Mexico State Head Coach Mike Kirby returned to familiar ground when he walked out to the third base coach’s box in the top of first inning. The former Nebraska assistant brought his 9-4 Aggies from the Western Athletic Conference into Haymarket Park for a two-game series versus the 5-9 Cornhuskers.
Kirby was also very familiar with the man on the mound, big righthander Dawson McCarville. A year ago, McCarville took the mound for Grand Canyon University against conference foe Aggies, getting the win and a personal best seven strikeouts.
McCarville was even better this year, pitching six complete shutout innings, giving up only one hit and striking out a new career best ten batters. It was an impressive outing for McCarville as seven of the eight Aggies in the starting batting order were hitting over .300, and two, third baseman Gunner Antillon and DH Logan Gallina both hitting over .400. It did not matter to McCarville as twice he struck out the side and was never in trouble until he gave way to reliever Chandler Benson, the crafty lefty from Frisco, Texas.
McCarville runs his season record to 2-1 with the 12-6 Cornhusker victory.
Midweek games often show fans a few different faces in the lineup, but even with that, it was a bit of a surprise to see Max Anderson start at first base. Coach Bolt is still looking to find the best combination of players who will provide offensive production and at the same time be able to play solid defense. By putting up twelve runs tonight, a few Cornhuskers gave him plenty of things to think about.
Most impressive was that Griffin Everitt continued his hot streak, hitting his third home run in two games, knocking in a couple of runs. He also reached on an error that led to a big first inning after the Cornhuskers had two outs. Max Anderson, Bryce Matthews, and Josh Caron also had two hits apiece, knocking in three, one, and two runs respectively.
What was promising from the hitting perspective is that a number of Nebraska batters put the barrel on the ball, making solid contact throughout the lineup for the first time this season. Cam Chick, still struggling, hit a moon shot that was only a couple of feet from going out of the deepest part of the ballpark. Efry Cervantes continues to be Mr. Hard Luck as he smoked two balls that went right to Aggie fielders. Core Jackson also showed that he is going to rip a lot of balls in the next few weeks.
Bolt Ball also returned as Coach Lance Harvell turned them loose on the bases when they got on. Bryce Matthews swiped a couple of bases, and on other occasions the boys in red were double stealing and hitting and running. That put a lot of pressure on the Aggie pitchers and defense, resulting in three big innings.
Can we talk about baseball fashion for a moment? What the hell is with these guys wearing shorts!
Back in the 1970’s the Chicago White Sox did it and the baseball world mocked them to no end. Now, thanks to Hunter Pence, for some reason players thing they have to wear their pants tucked up three to four inches above their knees. This isn’t 1980s girl’s softball!
Baseball players wear pants. They wear pants that go down around their calf with stirrup socks that show white sanitary socks underneath in the front and back. No, they don’t wear those damn pajama bottoms that they hook underneath their cleat.
All was going very well for Nebraska with a number of players getting at-bats in the later innings and some heavy substitution with a big lead, until a ridiculous meltdown by two relief pitchers in the bottom of the ninth.
Caleb Feekin and Quinn Mason faced eleven batters between the two of them and only got two outs. They gave up six runs.
Corbin Hawkins, making his first appearance of the season, finally came in and got the last out to end the game.
There are most certainly a couple of downcast young pitchers, but other than that, the team looked impressive tonight against a solid New Mexico State team.
The same two teams will be back out there tomorrow at Haymarket Park with a 1:35 first pitch. Great day to take a late, long lunch if you are in Lincoln!