It was a tale of two completely different games on Friday for Nebraska as they swept Nicholls in what would be the first two games played in a series after weather caused not only the number of games, but the location to be changed. What was scheduled as a 4 game series in Lincoln, was moved to Manhattan, Kansas due to impending weather, only to have the opening game of the revised 3 game series be rained out on Thursday. The teams were actually able to work out a schedule to get a 3rd game in on Sunday too.
The shortened series meant both teams had full bullpens ready to go with any trouble seen by the starters. That ended up being a completely moot point to Emmett Olson and Tyler Theriot in game one, as both starting pitchers starred and went the distance, in the 7 inning shortened game.
Theriot’s 6 innings pitched, giving up 7 hits and 2 runs while striking out 3 would be good enough to win most games. However, Olson went 7 innings, giving up a mere 3 hits and 1 run with 7 strikeouts. And just to illustrate how well he had left in the tank, he struck out the final batter of the game with his powerful slider, and his last fastball was 91 mph, right around where he lives all game.
Nebraska jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, as reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Cole Evans singled, and was driven in by first baseman Charlie Fischer. The Big Red added a crucial insurance run in the bottom of the 6th, as Dylan Carey busted out of his 2-16 slump with an RBI single to drive in catcher Josh Caron for a 2-0 lead. That would end up being the difference in the game, as the Colonels were able to plate a run, and load the bases before Olson finally slammed the door shut for the 2-1 victory.
Game 2 started out, strangely enough, with Charlie Fischer driving in Cole Evans for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. That is where the similarities between the two games would end. After a superbly played defensive game 1, Nicholls had 2 errors in the inning, which ended up allowed Fischer to score off of a single by DH Josh Caron.
The Cornhuskers would add a run in the 2nd, as Dylan Carey doubled and then scored an unearned run as Matthews reached on a fielding error on an extremely hard hit ball that slipped by the short stop. A Max Anderson home run, somehow only his 2nd on the year despite the hot start, provided an early 4-0 lead for NU.
That is all Jace Kaminska would need. The Husker hurler has been stellar all season, and wouldn’t let up today. He would pitch the first 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits, while striking out 3. That run in his final inning of work ended a scoreless streak of 18.1 innings by Kaminska, who improved to 4-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.17.
Kaminska was sat down after only 5 innings, because the Nebraska offense woke up in a big way in the bottom of the fifth. Catcher Ben Columbus drove in Charlie Fischer with an infield single for the first run of the inning. Then third baseman Dylan Carey continued his bounce back day, with a 2 RBI single of his own. Sac flys by Matthews and Fischer sandwiched around a 2 RBI single by Max Anderson finished off the 7 run inning, as the Huskers blew the game open at 11-1.
Both teams would sub in a lot of players at that point, but that wouldn’t stop the Husker offense. Brice Matthews absolutely obliterated a ball into the teeth of the wind for a grand slam, adding to his team high totals on the year of 5 home runs and 23 RBIs. Not bad for a lead off hitter. Not to be outdone, Max Anderson belted a home run of his own in the 6th, to give him 2 on the day and his third on the year along with 20 RBIs. Efry Cervantes would add a home run of his own in the 8th to get to the final score of 17-1.
Potentially lost in the offensive explosion would be the effort by Nebraska’s bullpen. Jackson Brockett, Jake Bunz, and Will Rizzo would combine to throw not only 4 scoreless innings, but 4 perfect innings. The Husker staff as a whole retired the last 13 batters of the game.
This puts Nebraska at 11-5-1 on the season. It was April 2nd last year before the team reached 11 wins.
Fresh off the sweep, it was announced that both teams would be able to add a game to the series. While the temperature Saturday wouldn’t get warm enough, they found a window Sunday afternoon at 2pm in Manhattan to be able to squeeze another game in. Look for potential starters to be named tomorrow after the teams assess the status of their arms. But plenty of guys should be ready to go for a couple innings at a time potentially.