“Not mentally tough enough.” was the phrase Head Coach Will Bolt used to describe how his team played Wednesday night in Manhattan, Kansas. In a game that saw a first pitch temperature of 36 degrees, with a “feels like” temperature of 28, no one in the park looked comfortable, whether in the stands, or on the field turf.
The starting pitchers for both teams cruised through the first few innings, wasting little time between pitches, possibly in hopes of shortening the game time. The home plate umpire obliged, calling multiple strike 3s on the black or further out on both teams before they adjusted.
The lone score early on was on a double off of a hit-and-run by Husker freshman Luke Jessen, that scored the speedy Luke Sartori all the way from first base in the 3rd inning.
The Defense Falters
Nebraska got everything the coaches said they wanted out of Husker starting pitcher Emmett Olson, who after the third inning had thrown 53 pitches of shutout ball, when in the pregame, the coaches said they wanted 50-60 pitches and 3-5 innings out of him. They chose to bring him back out for the 4th and the Wildcats immediately pounced, hitting his first pitch of the inning over the wall for a tying home run, and the second pitch was a double down the right field line.
Kansas State, realizing the game was probably going to be a low scoring affair, was happy to bunt the runner over into scoring position. They did it too well and had back to back infield hits off of bunts to take a 2-1 lead.
Despite KSU loading the bases with one out, Nebraska had a chance to get out of the inning with no more damage, as the ball was hit to third baseman Max Anderson who was a step off the bag and could have completed a double play to end the inning, but saw the ball bounce off his glove into foul territory, allowing a run to score.
Nebraska had another attempt to potentially end the inning, as the next batter hit a sharp grounder to Brice Matthews at short, who was at double play depth and had his momentum moving towards second base, allowing for the best probability of completing a double play. The cold seemed to rear its ugly head again, as the ball bounced off his hands as he preparing to flip to second, allowing Kansas State to take a 4-1 lead. They would add another run on a fielders choice to make 5-1, with 3 of the runs being unearned.
The Wildcats scored another run in the 5th inning, off of a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. The runner that scored reached base on another throwing error by SS Matthews, for the 4th unearned run scored by Kansas State. The Husker bullpen was otherwise spectacular yet again, allowing no earned runs, and retiring the last 10 batters of the game, keeping the team in the game.
Jackson Sparks the Offense
It took until the 7th inning for the Husker offense to heat up, as freshman infielder Cole Jackson, who came in for Matthews, launched an RBI double to left center, scoring Griffin Everitt. Jackson would also come in to score on a Jack Steil RBI single to cut the lead to 6-3.
RBI double from the freshman.— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) March 9, 2022
NU trails 6-2. pic.twitter.com/uyTQMaKdZO
Jackson would provide some offense again in the 9th, hitting a hard line drive to left that bounced over the outfielders head into the left field corner. Efry Cervantes would bring him in to make it 6-4, which would end up being the final score.
You can catch the Huskers next as they take on the Omaha Mavericks in a home-and-home series, starting on Sunday, March 13th at 3pm at Tal Anderson Field in Omaha, before heading to Lincoln for the Nebraska home opener on Monday, March 14th at 1pm. These takes the place of the Long Beach State series that was cancelled due to weather concerns.