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Nebraska Baseball Splits Doubleheader in Texas

A 12-1 run rule win, followed by a hard to swallow controversial 5-3 defeat makes for an eventful day in Texas.

Nebraska Athletic Department

Game 1

What a difference a year makes. Last year, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi broke Nebraska, with a series win culminating in a 21-4 victory that wasn’t even that close. Today however, it was the Huskers’ pitching staff that was in shutdown mode.

Early on it was a defensive battle, with a pivotal play according to Coach Bolt, being when NU was able to pick off Brendan Ryan, the Islanders steals leader, who had just hit a double in the top of the first. If that guy was allowed to roam the base paths, the Big Red could have been playing from behind.

It was in the 3rd where the Huskers finally broke through. Center fielder Casey Burnham, the offensive star of the day, singled, and advanced all the way to third on a throwing error by the TA&M-CC third baseman. Burnham went 4 for 4 on the day, with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored. The first of those runs scored coming as Brice Matthews drove him in with a sac fly to make it 1-0.

The 4th inning is where the Huskers offense went to work. Husker catcher Josh Caron started the scoring by driving in Max Anderson on a sac fly. Cole Evans then singled to knock in Charlie Fischer. Then Burnham came up, and smashed a 2 RBI triple that went right over the head of the first baseman. Matthews then singled to get the 2nd of his 3 RBIs on the day, all 3 were Burnham. The Huskers would add another run, and when it was all said and done, led 7-0.

Now if there is one thing we know about Husker ace Emmett Olson, we know he can go to work with a 2 run lead, much less a 7 run lead. Olson picked up right where he has left off the past couple weeks. 6.0 innings pitched, 4 strikeouts and gave up a meaningless run in the 6th when it was already a 9-0 game.

Star second baseman Max Anderson would launch a 2 run home run to dead center that put an exclamation point on the game and put the 10 run rule into effect as the Huskers took a 12-1 lead in the 8th. Corbin Hawkins made quick work of the Islanders to seal the game, as he continues to improve against left handed batters, and gain the coaches confidence. He threw the final 2 innings, allowed 1 hit and walked 1.

Another positive out of the game was the reappearance of Garrett Anglim, though he struck out as a pinch hitter for the DH slot, finally getting a plate appearance was a big step for his comeback from a bad hamstring injury.

Game 2

Next up on the day was red hot Abilene Christian. The Wildcats are 20-6 on the season, and though the bulk of their games have been against lesser competition, they have answered the call anytime one of the big boys appeared on their schedule. Nebraska though looked as though they were picking up where they left off. Brice Matthews singled, stole second, and was driven in by Max Anderson for the 1-0 lead after the first half inning.

Jace Kaminska has been the Huskers’ most consistent pitcher all year, and looked to be cruising after 2 innings. In the 3rd however, the potent Wildcat offense woke up. 5 hits including 2 doubles touched up Kaminska for not only his worst inning, but would have been his worst overall game as a Husker. Thats how good he’s been. 4-1 ACU after 3.

In a battle of 2 of the best defenses in the country, Nebraska’s would cost them big in the 4th. An error on short stop Brice Matthews that would have ended a 1-2-3 inning, put a Wildcat on first with 2 out. The next batter hit a reasonably sharp hit ball to right where Husker right fielder Cole Evans drifted a couple steps to his left before being handcuffed and seeing the ball go right by his glove, and on the turf, bounce all the way to the fence. The runner would score all the way from 1B, pushing the ACU lead to 5-1.

Evans led off the 5th and tried to make up for his mistake by hitting a single to right field. Then the scorching hot Casey Burnham stepped to the plate and looped the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a sure double and maybe a run. The only problem was the 3 man umpire crew was not in a good position to see the play. The home plate umpire ended up making a late “foul” call with his mask still on.

Even though the game was streaming, it was off of a single camera that didn’t move or zoom in on plays. You could plainly see the ball was fair, but the umpires could not use the setup provided for any replays. Burnham struck out, and what should have been at worst runners on 2B and 3B with no outs ended up with nothing coming across as ACU starter Brock Eichelberger struck out the side, 3 of his 7 Ks in 5.1 innings. Nebraska struck out 13 times total on the day.

Nebraska would turn to its bullpen for the 5th inning. The combo of Jackson Brockett, Jake Bunz, and Shay Schanaman would combine to throw 4 shutout innings, while striking out 5. Jake Bunz would prove exceptional as he came into a bases loaded situation, and get a ground ball that Matthews made a spectacular diving stop on, and threw the runner out at first to get the Huskers out of the jam with no runs allowed.

The Big Red would cut into the lead in the 7th. Following a Brice Matthews single, Max Anderson stepped up to the plate and hit one of his patented opposite field home runs into the opponents bullpen. That was his 2nd home run on the day, and gave him his 2nd and 3rd RBIs of the 5-3 game.

In the 9th, coach Will Bolt would turn to Garrett Anglim to pinch hit again. This time the Husker outfielder responded with a lead off single to right. Nebraska now had 3 attempts with the tying run at the plate, with Matthews and Anderson both getting at bats. As good of a scenario as the CornHuskers could ask for. But a strikeout, pop out to shallow center, and groundout to second erased Nebraska’s dream of a comeback.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard not to feel completely defeated when you lose a game by 2 runs, when you have 3 errors, 13 strikeouts, and an extremely controversial call. But there were plenty of positives as well. The bullpen throwing 6 scoreless innings as the coaches seem to be figuring out some roles heading into conference season could be the biggest plus of the last few games, and pay bigger dividends down the road.

Also Garrett Anglim is working back into form. While his replacements in Evans, Fischer and Swansen started out hot in his absence, only Swansen has been able to sustain it for the duration.

And Max Anderson is on fire again. Let’s keep that going.