On a cold and windy Omaha night, the Huskers and Bluejays clashed for the first of three games this season. It’s been a rivalry where over the past few years, a once dominating Husker stretch has given way to a Creighton run of success. A lot of those recent games with Nebraska inventing different ways to falter late. Tonight was no different.
It started out rough for Nebraska, as the offense was stymied in the first inning and starting pitcher Jackson Brockett, who had been lights out as of late, had issues finding the strike zone. He would end up walking the bases loaded in the first, but on his 33rd pitch of the inning, struck out Creighton short stop Sterling Hayes to avoid any damage.
After a quick 1-2-3 inning by the NU offense, Brockett was right back out there, only this time he wasn’t lucky enough to come out unscathed. A lead off double by Creighton catcher Hunter Helligso , followed by a hit by pitch set Creighton up for a sac bunt, something they excel at, …only Nebraska was unable to complete their end of the play and Creighton loaded the bases on an infield bunt single. Jays center fielder Nolan Sailors struck the first big blow of the game with a bases clearing double to left, giving Creighton a 3-0 lead.
Nebraska pulled the struggling Brockett from the game and put in side arm throwing Corbin Hawkins, and he was able quickly take control of the inning, and right the Nebraska ship. And that carried over to the so far stagnant Husker offense.
Casey Burnham was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and was brought in on an RBI single by defending Big Ten Player of the Week, Brice Matthews to put the Big Red on the board. After Matthews was thrown out attempting to steal, third baseman Dylan Carey reach on an error by the CU short stop, followed by a Max Anderson single, bringing up catcher Josh Caron. Caron pulled a 2-2 pitch straight down the left field line for a double, scoring Carey. It would be the lone extra base hit for an offense that has thrived on them all season. But before the inning was over, Charlie Fischer would make it a 4-3 ballgame in favor of Nebraska, with a 2 RBI single of his own.
Creighton’s offense would seemingly pick up in the 3rd where they left off in the 2nd. Two singles had the Jay offense in business, so NU coach Will Bolt turned to Will Walsh, who has mostly made appearances at first base in his career. All Walsh did was retire every Creighton batter he saw, save for a throwing error by Brice Matthews, until the 9th inning. The first 15 straight CU batters faced by Walsh were sat down in order.
Creighton’s bullpen would go on a streak of their own, holding the Huskers scoreless until the 7th inning. 3 straight singles by Carey, Anderson and Caron would give the Big Red a much needed insurance run in what had become a pitching duel by the bullpens. Huskers lead 5-3.
Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in. pic.twitter.com/OxppcVWE6C— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) March 22, 2023
It looked as though Nebraska would blow the game open in the 8th, as a Griffin Everitt single, sac bunt, intentional walk to Matthews and conventional walk to Carey set up Husker slugger Max Anderson with the bases loaded and 2 outs. Anderson hit a sinking line drive to left that Creighton’s left fielder dove and made a diving catch on to keep Nebraska off the scoreboard for the inning.
The bullpens would sit the offenses down in order, until the bottom of the 9th. Creighton singled to start the inning, did an inexplicable sac bunt (down 2 runs), and singled to cut the lead to one. A hit by pitch, followed by another single, and a wild pitch put runners on 2nd and 3rd, and finally ended the night of Will Walsh.
In stepped little used Husker reliever Brett Sears. After a long battle at the plate, DH Tyler Lozano hit a deep sac fly to tie the game, and move the winning run to 3rd base. One pitch later, Sears threw one to the backstop, and the runner from 3rd waltzed in and the Creighton mosh pit commenced. Ballgame over, 6-5 Bluejays.
The Huskers will next be seen on the diamond back at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, as they open the Big Ten conference schedule, hosting the Illinois Fighting Illini. The first game of the series is set for March 24th at 6:05 pm. This will also be a special night as Nebraska will be retiring the jerseys of 3 of the best players in program history, Darin Erstad, Shane Komine, and Alex Gordon. These are the first 3 players to have their jerseys retired in program history.