Usually there are a few stats you need to dig deep to find out what made the difference in a game. But when 6 unearned runs score for one team, it’s generally the deciding factor. It was 2 costly errors, 1 on a tough 1 hopper that led to so many runs. One on a play that did not even have any real pressure on the outcome, and the other a rough hop that could have potentially ended the game.
The game started with the bottom offense in the league jumping all over Husker ace Emmett Olson. The only out that happened in the first 5 hitters was a sacrifice bunt on a squeeze play. That brought in the first run of the game, and a stand up RBI double made it 2-0 Minnesota before most fans had even found their seats.
Nebraska would get a run back in the bottom of the inning as Gabe Swansen drove in Brice Matthews with an RBI single. Minnesota would extend the lead right back as ,174 hitter Kyle Bork hit his first home run of the season off of Olson, who it was clear didn’t have his best stuff. After a walk and a single, the Gophers were able to add another run when a pickoff attempt went off the glove of second baseman Max Anderson and into center field. The runner was able to jog home and extend the lead to 4-1.
When some teams may quit, Nebraska came back fighting. In the 3rd, the first two batters reached base via a single and walk. Max Anderson failed to even advance them, as he went 0-5 on the night. The man who just a short while was hitting .420, ended the game at .382. After Anderson was Gabe Swansen, and he took the second pitch he saw and shot it high into the air. The wind took it from there and it just cleared the right field wall and tied the game at 4-4, all 4 runs off the bat of Swansen.
Olson dug deep and battled, making all the way through 6 innings without allowing another run. Nebraska used the momentum from Olson, to finally take the lead on 3 singles in the 6th, with Casey Burnham driving in Cole Evans to go up 5-4. Then the Big Red turned the game over to workhorse closer Shay Schanaman.
Schanaman made quick work of the Gopher lineup in the 7th and 8th, but ran into trouble in the 9th. Back to back singles to leadoff the inning, were followed by a fly out. Then came a sharp hit ball right at short stop Brice Matthews. The ball took one hop on the dirt and skipped up to Matthews shoulder where it bounced off him and into right field.
You can never assume a double play, but that ball was hit so sharply on a line right at Matthews that it almost certainly would have ended the game. Instead, the tying run scored, and 2 other runners were on base. A single loaded the bases, and Husker coach Will Bolt brought in reliever Jake Bunz.
After a walk gave the lead back to Minnesota, Bunz struck out the next batter, but then gave up a fly ball deep to center field. Unfortunately, Casey Burnham was playing shallow, and the ball bounced off the wall for a 3 run double. Minnesota now leads 9-5. Nebraska would actually get 2 runs back off the bat of Ben Columbus, and they would get the winning run to the plate in the form of Brice Matthews, but for the second time in the game with runners on base, he would watch strike 3 go by him. Ballgame.
- The Huskers and Gophers play game 2 of the series on Saturday at 2pm at Hawks Field.
- Coach Bolt announced post game that Jace Kaminska would in fact start the game after the dreaded “TDB” designation had been given for the game earlier in the week.
- They will be honoring the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Big 12 Championship team in a pregame ceremony and with a Matt Hopper bobble head.