All series San Diego had been leaning on their stud hitter, along with their abundant amounts of newcomers, mainly freshmen. It seemed like the Huskers had taken over that blueprint for the first 4 innings of the game on Sunday. Nebraska’s “dude”, as Coach Bolt likes to call the main cogs of the team, is Max Anderson.
Anderson finished a triple short of the cycle, and had 4 RBI’s, the most spectacular being on a solo home run that cleared the batter’s eye. Now the batters eye is about 5-10 feet behind the 391 foot fence and measures something in the neighborhood of 50-60 feet high. Yeah, it was a shot.
.@maxanderson62_ just put a ball in orbit.— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) February 19, 2023
As I said before, San Diego had done it with their newcomers and freshmen, especially the freshmen hurlers all weekend too. Nebraska seemed to have the same success there as well. Graduate transfer Casey Burnham set the table and scored 2 runs. JuCo DH Ben Columbus added a hit and 2 RBI. And true freshman Dylan Carey added 2 hits, including a no doubter home run into the trees behind left field.
GO AHEAD, FRESHMAN‼️@dylancarey08 extends the lead with this 389-foot HR. pic.twitter.com/Er3Ty4W8b0— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) February 19, 2023
Those batters provided the offense, while the Huskers turned to true freshman Caleb’s Clark for his first career start. He kept the Toreros offense, which had been opportunistic all weekend, pretty much at bay. His lone blemish was a 1st inning Kevin Sim’s home run, but if you’ve been watching, which Husker hasn’t done that so far this year?
All that led to the Huskers being up 8-2 in the 5th inning. Then Clark hit a wall, giving up a single, HBP, and walk, before exiting for new Husker, Ben Sears. Sears ran into a buzzsaw as the Toreros smelled blood for the first time all game, and finally broke through. A walk followed by a (you guessed it) Kevin Sim RBI double, and another RBI single, brought San Diego within 1 run before Kyle Perry was able to stop the bleeding and end the inning at 8-7.
The 6th started with 2 walks and 2 HBPs, to give the Huskers a free run, and drive the lead up to 9-7. But the Nebraska hitters couldn’t bring anyone else home with the bases loaded and no outs, in what would be their best threat of the later stages of the game. The Toreros would use the momentum from that stand along with a lead off walk in the bottom of the inning, to tie the game up at 9-9 going into the 7th.
While it wouldn’t have a direct result on the game in terms of runs scored, the 7th inning is where the tide of the game really turned. In the Husker half, Garret Anglim was hit by a pitch, but deemed by the home plate umpire to have leaned his leg into the path of the ball, and was instructed to return to the box. He would ground out and the Huskers would go quietly into stretch time.
In the bottom half, after a Kevin Sim single (obviously), San Diego RF Angelo Peraza was hit by a pitch in the elbow guard, appearing to himself lean out into the path of the ball. He was awarded first base, and anyone wearing red in the stadium or watching on the stream, leapt to their feet in protest, and channeled all their frustration of not only this sequence, but the last few innings, into Will Bolt who was in the face of the home plate umpire immediately. He made his displeasure well known, hanging around long after he had been tossed, before exiting out right field.
Nebraska was able to get out of that hairy situation and get to the 9th thanks to another true freshman, James Worthley, who retired all 5 batters he faced. The Husker offense though couldn’t do its part to get things going, pilling up the late inning strikeouts, and finishing with 12 for the game.
San Diego would suffer no such drought, and walked off the Huskers, as Kevin Sim (sigh) scored on a hit to center field by Peraza, the man who started all the fireworks in the 7th.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (I don’t know enough westerns to keep this bit going)
This is how Nebraska should be attacking these starting pitchers for San Diego. We needed the bats to wake up, and it seems like they did, until the late inning strikeouts. That was really the only stat that ended up standing out. And Nebraska’s coaches will get to know its freshman pitcher better, to not leave him in a batter or 2 too long.
Also there is just one more game with this WCC crew that is clearly in over their heads. Other than the hit by pitches previously mentioned, I wouldn’t say they’ve been awful with the rules of the game, and the strike zone hasn’t been godawful. They just don’t seem to be able to keep the game flowing and let the coach they know they will have to deal with multiple times this season walk all over them, whether it be unofficial “timeouts” or moving the on deck circle over, weird things you don’t really think about like that.
Nebraska does get one last chance to steal a game in the series, with a rare Monday game. They take on the Tereros one last time at 2pm. It is a travel day for the Huskers, so there will be a hard stop if the game is going slowly enough.