Jace Kaminska was dealing early and often making quick work of the Illinois State lineup, emphasis on the word “quick”. Kaminska was barely getting the ball back in his hand before starting his wind up. So much so that ISU had to call an offensive timeout in the 4th, to slow him down. He and two Freshmen pitchers (Jalen Worthley and JC Gutierrez) combined to throw Nebraska’s first shutout of the season.
Kaminska has been the Huskers’ most dependable pitcher thus far in the season. His record improved to 3-0, he did not allow a runner past second base today, and he has a 13.2 inning scoreless streak currently.
Speaking of streaks, the Huskers were able to put up 12 runs, for the 3rd time in 4 games, despite not hitting a home run for the first time in 13 games. It was an even more impressive feat, as their “Big 3” hitters that have starred so far this season (Matthews, Anderson and Caron) went a combined 0-11 on the day, ending hit streaks by both Anderson and Matthews.
That means the bottom of the Nebraska lineup really had to provide the majority of the punch for the offense on the day, and boy did they! Cole Evans was again the star of the show at the plate, as he has been seemingly all week. He went 4-4 on the day, with a pair of doubles, 4 RBIs and 2 runs scored. He gave the Huskers their first lead in the 2nd inning, driving a hanging curve to the left field fence and scoring Charlie Fisher. Casey Burnham followed him up two batters later with a hard single up the middle, driving in Evans and Gabe Swansen for a 3-0 Big Red lead.
The offense kept things moving in the 3rd. After a walk and a HBP, the Huskers had 3 straight RBI singles from Fischer, Swansen and (of course) Evans to blow the game open at 6-0. Illinois State finally went to their struggling bullpen, who walked the first batter, Burnham, giving Nebraska a free “baseball point” as coach Will Bolt likes to say, to push it to 7-0.
After a couple of innings where the new Redbird pitcher had Nebraska’s offense off balance, Brice Matthews showed everyone in the sixth inning how he can succeed even when his bat struggles. Matthews worked a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and came home on a sac fly off the bat of Ben Columbus. He may not be the prototypical lead off man, but he can get the offense going in a variety of ways.
Nebraska would add 4 more runs in the seventh, with the first two off of (stop me when you’ve heard this before) another Cole Evans double, then a pinch-hit triple off the bat of Griffin Everett (which missed extending the home run streak by about a foot or two), and a sac fly by Matthews. That would bring the game to its final score of 12-0, and give Nebraska a series win.
The Huskers will go for the sweep on Sunday, wearing their Sunday Black uniforms they pull out when they are in search of a sweep. The series finale will be at 1:05 pm CT. (Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead!) Nebraska has yet to name a starting pitcher for the game.