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Cornhuskers Can’t Climb Out of Early Hole; Lose to Hoosiers 8-7

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Jon Johnston

Nebraska’s hitting woes continued through the first two-thirds of the opening game of a three game series versus Indiana in Bloomington. The boys in Scarlet were only able to muster three hits until the seventh inning. The closest they came to scoring a run was a Max Anderson long fly ball to centerfield that forced Bobby Whalen back against the cushions to make the catch.

Of the first four hits Nebraska had, three of them did not get out of the infield.

While the Cornhuskers were struggling, Indiana was making life difficult for starter Shay Schanaman. The junior from Grand Island had trouble adapting to the home plate umpires high strike zone and found himself down 1-0 in the first inning after Josh Pyne doubled and two batters later, Brock Tibbetts did the same. It seems that a common thread this season is Nebraska playing from behind.

Going into this series, pundits were of the opinion that it would be an offensive series as Indiana has come alive at the plate in recent weeks, but at the same time, they have the worst team pitching in the Big Ten Conference. It did not take long after that initial run for the Hoosiers to strike again, putting up three runs in the third off Schanaman, that was started with another error by second baseman Brice Matthews. After that, Schanaman hit the next batter and then gave up a single to Tibbetts and a double to Carter Mathison. Hoosiers up 4-0.

With the Cornhuskers limited to a single in the top of the fourth, Indiana struck again with three more runs culminating in a three run homer by Pyne. At a little over the halfway point, Indiana led 7-0 and the night was over for Shay Schanaman.

Mason Ornelas came in and did an excellent job for 3.2 innings, though he did surrender another run to Indiana in the 8th. Ornelas epitomizes the frustration with Nebraska pitching this year. He can pitch lights out like he did tonight and then the next time out struggle to pitch out of one inning.

That said, in the top of the seventh inning, Nebraska finally put a mark on the scoreboard. First, Cam Chick was hit by a pitch for the fourth time in two games and Garrett Anglim reached on a single. Chick scored on a base hit by catcher Griffin Everitt. Then, with two runners on base, Max Anderson hit a three run homer.

As they entered the eighth inning, the score was 8-4 Hoosiers, but Nebraska had some life. The score would stay the same until Nebraska’s last chance in the top of the ninth. With relief pitcher Grant Holderfield retiring the side 1-2-3 in the eighth, including two strikeouts looking, it did not look good for Nebraska. However, Grant Anglim ripped his first pitch in the ninth for a single, hit third hit of the game. Maybe Nebraska could make a run at this.

Everitt then struck out swinging, but Max Anderson got his third hit, to put runners on first and second with one out. Indiana made another pitching change, bringing in Braydon Tucker. He got Josh Caron to pop up in foul territory for the second out of the inning.

That brought up the cold, struggling Brice Matthews. The sophomore from Texas has really struggled at the plate the past couple of weeks with more strikeouts than a leopard has spots. However, tonight he got his pitch and sent it into the Indiana night, bringing the Cornhuskers within one run. The joy in the first base dugout was short lived as Leighton Banjoff, who had been on base three times tonight, let strike three go by without taking his bat off his shoulder. Final score: Indiana 8, Nebraska 7.

The positive is that Nebraska showed some fight late in the game, and Indiana used their best three arms tonight. The big question is whether Nebraska will get hits tomorrow, because it is apparent Indiana will. While the started has not yet been named, the best guess is that it will be Emmett Olson, the lefty from Illinois. First pitch for the same two team on Saturday is 1:00.