That’s a butt-kicking on a Sunday afternoon, and quite the way to end a three game series sweep in Columbus, Ohio against Ohio State Buckeyes. The black Champions Day uniforms returned on a Sunday afternoon and the good guys from Lincoln poured it on the hapless fellas with the block O on their hats.
What a way to finish up a weekend!
There are a number of story lines that weave together to tell the story of the Cornhuskers third road victory on the weekend. Perhaps most on display today was Nebraska’s patience at the plate and relentless mindset with two outs.
From top to bottom in the lineup, they forced Ohio State pitchers deep into the count, looking for their pitch to drive. The whole weekend the team did not concede an inch with two outs, scoring a very high percentage of their runs with two lights on the scoreboard.
In fact, Nebraska had 13 two-out runs on the day!
One of the unwritten rules of baseball is that walks kill. Today was a prime example of that, specifically in the form of Cam Chick. In seven times at the plate, Chick was had five walks, which is a Nebraska record. Of those five free passes, Chick scored four times. When teams are giving away free passes to hitters, generally speaking, it comes back to haunt them. Chick added to the nightmare for the Buckeyes as in his other two plate appearances, he hit a double each time, one of them driving in a run. Seven times up to bat, seven times on base and four runs scored is a dang good day!
Another unwritten rule of the game - don’t let the number nine hitter beat you.
Someone should tell that to Luke Sartori. He came to the plate six times today, scored three runs and two hits. He also had a beautiful sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning when the game was still close. Oh yeah, one of those two hits was a grand slam home run! The second of the weekend for the Cornhuskers, matching Max Anderson’s blast yesterday.
After a shaky start in the first inning when he gave up three runs, Dustin McCarville settled in and for the most part kept Ohio State runners off the bases until he gave way to freshman Jaxon Jelkin in the fifth. The rookie from Bellevue West kept the scoreboard clean until he was replaced by Mason Ornelas, the Texas A&M transfer, in the seventh. The Texan was doing okay, benefiting from a some sterling defensive plays in the infield, until he left one hanging over the middle of the plate that Trey Lipsey crushed for a two-run homer to cut the Cornhusker lead to five runs at 10-5 headed to the ninth inning.
At that point, Ohio State had used six pitchers in the game and trotted out their seventh, senior Mitch Milheim to start the ninth. He faced four hitters, walked two and gave up a hit and a fielders choice that resulted in an out. Ultimately, he was also responsible for giving up three runs.
Milheim gave way to another senior, Will Pfennig who gave up a hit to Garrett Anglim, struck out pinch hitter Josh Caron, gave up a hit to Efry Cervantes, and walked Jack Steil. That brought up Luke Sartori, the light-hitting centerfielder from Lincoln Southwest. With bases loaded and two outs, he hit a smash that cleared the wall in left field, clearing the bases and putting the Cornhusker run total at 17.
Six Nebraska hitters had two or more hits in the game, with Brice Matthews and Max Anderson notching three a piece. The Cornhuskers also worked 10 walks on the day and four were hit by a pitch, reflecting the control issues that plagued Buckeye pitching throughout the game. The only blemish on the stat line is that those same pitchers struck out ten Cornhuskers.
Jaxon Jelkin earned the win today, leveling his record at 1-1. Cornhusker batting averages inched up over the course of the weekend. A new designated hitter was discovered in Nick Wimmers.
Unfortunately Core Jackson was injured in the first inning on a collision at second base with a Buckeye baserunner. The extent of his injury is unknown. However, Mr. Utility, Efry Cervantes got two hits after he replaced the Canadian, and played some very solid defense at second base.
The trip home will be a positive one for the 12-14 Cornhuskers, who are 4-2 in the Big Ten. They take on Omaha on the road Wednesday before having a nine game home stand at Haymarket Park.