Just like everyone expected coming in to the game between two of the better offenses in the Big Ten, we were greeted with a pitchers duel between two aces for the early part of the game. Jace Kaminska for Nebraska and NIck Dean for Maryland both used the cavernous outfield with the wind blowing in to their advantage against the aggressive offenses.
Both teams got runners on base in the first, looking like we would be in for the offensive show we were promised. Nebraska had 2 on, Maryland loaded the bases, but each pitcher recorded a huge strikeout to end the inning.
The Huskers struck first in the 2nd. Josh Caron was hit by a pitch, then Ben Columbus walked on 4 pitches. Dylan Carey then put down a nice sacrifice bunt to the pitcher that moved the runners over to second and third. Cole Evans advanced the runners with a productive out, and the Huskers took a 1-0 lead, all without a hit.
From there, the pitchers went on a roll. Dean retired 10 in a row at one point, and Kaminska either struck out or induced a harmless fly ball from the over aggressive Terrapin hitters.
The 5th inning is where Nebraska ran into some trouble. Maryland 9 hitter Kevin Keister led off the inning with a double, meaning the best 1-2-3 punch in the conference had a runner in scoring position. Luke Shliger moved him over with a productive out, and Matt Shaw drove him in with a hard grounder past the infield that had been brought in to cut off the run. The game was tied 1-1.
The inning continued as Nick Lorusso hit a single, and advanced to second on an errant throw into third base. Husker Coach Will Bolt decided to intentionally walk the next batter to load the bases with 1 out, putting the double play into effect. Kaminska was able to get an infield pop up for the 2nd out. The next batter was Matt Woods, who hadn’t come close to touching Kaminska in his 2 strikeouts. He squared to bunt with two outs, missed the ball while making an attempt at it, and was hit in the knee. Maryland thought they had a run with the HBP, but the umpire sent everyone back. After a long argument, play resumed and Kaminska struck Woods out for the third time.
The pitchers again went to work. In the top of the 7th, Dylan Carey hit a 1 out single. This ended Nick Dean’s day. He had an impressive 6.1 innings pitched with 2 hits and 1 run given up, with 5 Ks. After his relief pitcher threw 1 pitch (a ball), lightning was detected in the area and the game was paused at 8:25pm. Needless to say, Jace Kaminska’s day would be over as well. 6 innings pitched, 5 hits and 1 run given up with 5 Ks.
Play was finally resumed at 10 pm, with Maryland switching to David Falco Jr. to pitch. He gets a ground ball, and the umpires called a double play. After a very lengthy review of both calls, the call at second was overturned. One pitch later Brice Matthews was hit by a pitch. Casey Burnham couldn’t advance them, and after nearly 2 hours, the half inning ended in a strikeout.
Nebraska turned to sidearm reliever Corbin Hawkins for the bottom of the inning. He had everything against him. He warmed up before the delay, again after the delay, he pitched yesterday, and was going against the big 3 of Maryland. All he did was go 1-2-3 and calmly walk off the mound like he’s done it 100 times.
Nebraska threatened again in the 9th. Singles by Carey and Matthews had runners at the corners with 2 outs. Matthews swiped second base, which means he is the first player in Husker history to be in the 20/20 club, hitting 20 home runs, and stealing 20 bases. Casey Burnham could not bring them in, and after Shay Schanaman recorded his 2nd straight 1-2-3 inning, we went to extras!
(In case you are wondering, the first guy to do it won Big Ten Player of the Year.)
After Nebraska failed to get anything in the top of the inning, Schanaman went back out for the bottom of the 10th. He picked up right where he left off, striking out the first batter, getting a ground out on the dangerous Shaw, and getting to a 2-2 count on Lorusso. Then Lorusso popped up a ball that Schanaman and Columbus converged around and ran full speed into the fence of the Husker dugout, as the dropped on the top step. One pitch later, Lorusso hit one deep to left and walked off the Huskers 2-1. You have to wonder if Schanaman needed a minute after falling over the wall.
Nebraska will take on Michigan State at 7 pm on Friday, as they look to stay alive and come back to play Maryland again.