You’re going to win many baseball games when you only get one hit, and that’s all Nebraska could muster vs. Islander pitching as they lost 4-1 today at Haymarket Park.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi starter Hayden Thomas went 7.2 innings while reliever Zach Garcia finished off the game and the Cornhuskers. Thomas, a right handed junior threw 112 pitches and seemed to get strong as the game went on with a half dozen pitches being clocked at 95 mph in his last inning. Cornhusker batters weren’t able to catch up.
Going into the second game of the series, Nebraska starter Shay Schanaman knew going in that he was going to have to attack the strike zone, be efficient, and eat up some innings. The Grand Island product was working on short rest and was on a pitch count, thus it was imperative he not get into any long at-bats.
Attacking the strike zone is what he did as his first pitch of the game was laced for a double by Islander lead-off man Steven Rivera-Chijin. He then advanced to third two pitches later on a sacrifice fly to right. Two pitches later, when centerfielder Brendan Ryan hit a deep foul ball that was caught down the line by Leighton Banjoff, Rivera-Chijin beat the throw to the plate to put the first run of the game on the board.
After that initial run, the game settled into a pitchers battle until the seventh inning, with Schanaman working quickly and for the most part keeping Islander hitters off balance. He got five strikeouts, gave up three hits, and walked three, getting the job done. However, the Cornhusker offense did not give him any help.
While their first hit did not come until the seventh inning, Cornhuskers got on base. Thomas issued seven walks, hit two batters, and hitters reached base on a couple of fielder’s choices and an error. Nebraska looked to have something going in the fourth inning when Bryce Matthew drew a walk and stole second before Garrett Anglim got a walk as well. However, Colby Gomes grounded into a double play and then Cam Chick flew out to the wall in center, ending the threat.
The seventh inning proved to be the turning point of the game. In the top, a Bryce Matthews error to start the inning ended up with the Islanders scoring their second run and Shay Schanaman being pulled three batters later.
Freshman Chandler Benson took the mound and got the final out with Nebraska down 2-0.
It appeared that the Cornhuskers might have some life when lead-off batter Garrett Anglim singled sharply through the left side, The red-clad crowd came to life as Colby Gomes came to the plate. Gomes made his first start in a number of games after dealing with a foot injury, but wasn’t up to the challenge this time as he took some big hacks and struck out as Thomas seemed to throw each pitch harder than the one before.
Cam Chick, now hitting under .150, walked, putting runners once again at first and second. That brought Freshman Gabe Swansen, Iowa’s Gatorade Player of the Year last year, to the plate to pinch hit for Efry Cervantes. Swansen hit a rocket on the first pitch that caused fans to jump out of their seats only to grabbed off the top of the blades of grass by left fielder Josh Caraway.
Garrett Anglim must have been convinced the ball hit the ground because he took off and was around third when Caraway got to his feet and fired the ball to the second baseman to double him up.
In the top of the 8th, the Islanders loaded the bases on Benson, bringing Corbin Hawkins in with one out. Hawkins, another freshman put into a real tough situation, came through with flying colors. The submarine-throwing-righty got a strike out and then induced DH Trey Jones to hit a ground ball to short.
Matthews, who had moved over from second base the previous inning, made up for his previous error with a sterling play behind second, diving and gloving the ball before scrambling to his feet and nipping Jones by an eyelash at first.
Keeping the Islanders off the board and Matthews sparkling play seemed like it should have lit a fire under the Cornhusker offense. Leighton Banjoff, last night’s hero, started off the inning with a walk and Max Anderson reached on an error by the third baseman. Core Jackson put down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. With one out, Griffin Everitt was intentionally walked to load the bases.
With Thomas still on the mound, clean up batter Bryce Matthews came to the plate. Unfortunately, he popped up to the second baseman. With two out, Garrett Anglim came to the plate and was quickly plunked by Thomas, forcing Banjoff home with Nebraska’s first run of the game.
The Islanders went to their bullpen and brought in left hander Zach Garcia, and up to the plate for a second chance in the game to drive in runs was Colby Gomes. After seeing Hayden Thomas consistently throw fastballs between 92 an d 95 mph, Garcia tossed 70 and 78 mph breaking pitches at Gomes. His heroic swings did not connect and for the second time in the game, the young man from Millard went down swinging.
With a 2-1 lead, Texas A&M-Corpus-Christi added a couple of insurance runs in the top of the ninth off Emmett Olson, before Nebraska went down in order in their side of the ninth.
At the end of the day, the team from Texas prevailed 4-1 over a Nebraska team that could only muster one hit. The Islanders did an outstanding job of taking advantage when they put runners on base, moving them around and getting the timely hits.
The roller-coaster ride continues for Nebraska as the two teams will be back at it again Sunday for game three. First pitch is at 12:05.