It was a night that seemed destined to be dominated by the hitters. The temperature was in the low 50s, and wind was blowing out to left. However, it was the pitchers that starred, aided by a big strike zone that kept really kept hitters off balance. It wasn’t just the zone that could be blamed for the high number of strikeouts though, as there was a majority of swing and misses that caused the Ks to pile up.
The game started very inauspiciously for Nebraska. Cadyn Schwabe, the speedy leadoff man for the Bison, hit a shot to deep short stop, Matthews made a good play to get his glove on it, but the throw bounced away from Husker first baseman Charlie Fischer. Schwabe did not hesitate to take 2nd. After a walk, Schwabe stole 3rd, and on a play where the runner took off from first to try and get in a rundown, the Huskers were able to nail him, but Schwabe scored easily to take a 1-0 NDSU lead.
It took until the 5th inning for Nebraska to finally push a runner across, Gabe Swansen hit a double, and scored on a throwing error from the Bison right fielder following a Ben Columbus single. That tied the game at 1 a piece.
Huskers tie it up in the 5th. pic.twitter.com/kr0ubTaPxQ— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) March 29, 2023
Those two scoring plays showed just how creative the offenses would have to be to get runs across. The pitchers dominated the majority of the games, particularly Will Walsh for the Cornhuskers. Walsh made his best case to get an opportunity to be Nebraska’s Sunday pitcher, when they next need a 3rd weekend pitcher in Michigan on April 7-9th. Walsh would end up going 7 innings, and allowed only 2 hits to go with a season high for a Husker 11 Ks. He would allow only 1 Bison to reach 2B after the crazy 1st inning.
Speaking of the 7th inning, the Big Red really showed off their defense, which has spent most of the year ranked in the top 10-15 of the country. Center fielder Casey Burnham tracked down what looked like a sure Jack Steil double in the left center gap. Few guys have the instincts and speed to make that play. (Side note, Steil really shined in his return to Haymarket. Played great at 3B and on a night of little offense, made a few plays there.) Husker second baseman also made a slick backhand play deep behind second and threw the batter out at first.
That defensive momentum finally carried over to the Husker offensive half of the inning. Though they had to get almost as creative as NDSU was in the first. After 2 quick outs, Cole Evans took a breaking pitch right between the 1 and 2 on his back. After he stole 2nd, his fifth steal of the year, Casey Burnham reached via catchers interference. That set the stage for Husker short stop Brice Matthews.
To say Matthews had a rough night to that point, would be putting it mildly. His error on the first batter of the game, led directly to the only NDSU run. Add that to the hat trick of strikeouts he had in his first three at bats, and it led to a very frustrated batter. As the Bison brought in a new pitcher to face him, it was clear Brice was looking for one pitch. And boy did he get it! Matthews unloaded on the fist pitch he saw, and sent the bomb out past the trio of flag poles that sit behind the walkway behind the left field berms. 4-1 Nebraska.
That would be all the Huskers needed as Shay Schanaman stepped onto the bump and though he gave up a single and 2 HBPs, he struck out 5 NDSU batters in the final 2 innings to get the save. Nebraska pitchers combined to strike out 16 NDSU batters on the night.
Nebraska will next play a double header on Saturday April 1st. Game 1 will be against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 1 pm, and game 2 will be against the host for the day, Abilene Christian. They will be broadcast on the Huskers Radio Network, but not streaming or on TV.