On a warm, fall Saturday, one that was almost reminiscent of summer, the boys of summer for both the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Omaha Mavericks met at Tal Anderson Field in Omaha for a 14 inning game.
For Omaha, they returned a high percentage of their lineup, but were down their ace pitcher along with a couple prominent bullpen arms, for the matchup. Nebraska, on the other hand… Well lets just say you better have printed off a roster, or had your smartphone handy, which wouldn’t have done a whole heck of a lot of good, because a lot of newcomers were wearing numbers in the 50s, not seen on the roster.
Coming off the 2022 season, you could almost take your pick as to why the season went off the rails for Nebraska. Ineffective starting pitching, a depreciated bullpen, a shaky defense, and an offense with a propensity to pile up strikeouts, while leaving an inordinate amount of runners on base, all could have been the leading culprit for the woes of the team. But all aspects of Nebraska’s game showed up in the first public appearance of the current roster.
The teams used 10 person lineups, and Coach Will Bolt went with the guys he’s seen be the most consistent so far in fall ball.
First fall lineup— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) September 24, 2022
30 minutes out from first pitch in Omaha. pic.twitter.com/yulLLSM5zB
The New Guys
As you can see, the names you are familiar with have been pushed back in the lineup a bit for some new faces. We will have a full rundown closer to the season, but here is a brief introduction to the new guys in the starting lineup.
Cayden Brumbaugh, the sophomore transfer from Oklahoma State. He was mocked in some early rounds of the MLB draft coming out of high school. After being a SS his whole life, Bolt is having him make the same transition as Jaxson Hallmark to the everyday CF. Casey Burnham, a Grand Island native, is a grad transfer from Kansas, brings a steady bat along with tremendous defensive ability. Dylan Carey looks the part of a veteran out there. One of the top Fr (a natural SS) out of Colorado, he held his own in the 3 hole while showing a couple of really impressive plays on defense at 3B.
Cole Evans is an outfielder, former NE Gatorade player of the year at Grand Island and Creighton player before going to JUCO and excelling at the plate and in CF. Bryce Hughes, is a JUCO 2B/SS out of Texas. Hughes hit .391 his last year, but from the looks of both the infield session (which I put more stock in than most, and he had the smoothest looking one of an NU infielder in years) and the game, his glove should be a big upgrade in the field.
Let’s Get to the Game!
Nebraska set the tone early, with Freshman Dylan Carey being knocked in, after almost being knocked down, by a rocket RBI single off the bat of catcher Josh Caron, who went 3-4 on the day. The Huskers then turned to Emmitt Olson, the 2nd team All-B1G pitcher, who like most pitchers on the day, would allow the occasional baserunner, before shutting down the Maverick offense.
The Huskers would strike again in the 3rd, as Max Anderson would get the first 2 of his team leading 3 RBIs on the game, driving in Casey Burnham and Carey to push the lead to 3-0. Nebraska then called on Wichita St transfer Jace Kaminska. He was an All-Conference player as a Freshman, before struggling as the team’s Friday night starter last year. Kaminska had a solid 3rd inning, but in the 4th, he got his breaking ball to just die at the bottom of the zone and struck out the side. If he can get that pitch going in season, he will be a huge asset.
The teams would trade runs in the 5th, with Brumbaugh bringing in Cole Evans on a sac fly (which would have been a home run, had the wind not been blowing straight in). Chandler Benson then climbed the mound for NU and looked off from the get go. He gave up a lead off home run to make it a 4-1 game. The next batter hit a rocket down the left field line for a double. This is the point where last year, a freshman may have just crumbled, but Benson made and impressive rally and ended up striking out 3 batters in his two innings of work.
Omaha would struggle on defense as they moved guys in and out of the lineup in the 8th, throwing the ball around, and then having their pitcher completely lose the zone. Burnham would eventually score on a wild pitch, and then Max Anderson to drove in Carey, who scored his team leading 3rd run of the contest. Nebraska would plate 3 more runs in the game. 2 coming off a Efry Cervantes home run off the right field foul pole in the 11th, and the final on a Blake Mosley RBI single in the 12th.
A multitude of pitchers (many of them LH) would throw shutout innings as the Mavs went to their bench. If I had to pick out the 2 most impressive, Freshman Caleb Clarke, the much heralded Canadian, looked sharp! He already has a decent mix of pitches. And they were all around the zone. He was also helped by the defensive play of the day, as Burnham took over CF and made a full speed track down of a ball that he caught 1 step before slamming full speed into the wall. The other standout was Austin Berggren. He was able to pound the zone and induce ground balls whenever the Mavs made contact.
Nebraska has one more game this fall against the Kansas Jayhawks, October 14th at 4pm at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence, KS. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for news on the annual Red-White series that has yet to be announced.