Saturday was a day where the offenses and the ballpark itself lived up to the hype. Home runs were taking off all over the field, especially early on. Six balls had left the small Turtle Field before an out was even recorded in the 3rd inning. You get to see first hand why the ERAs for all the Maryland pitchers are less than stellar, when comparing to other ranked teams.
Just as in Friday night’s game, Nebraska struck first in the top of the 1st, but this time with more authority. After scratching across a Brice Matthews’ run early on, the Huskers loaded the bases for Griffin Everitt. All he did was crush a grand slam and give Nebraska a 5-0 lead, before Maryland could even get to the plate. But if you thought that would be enough, you were mistaken.
Just like friday, Maryland immediately answered. After their leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch, though it seemed his back foot was out of the box, and his elbow was in the zone, their best player Matt Shaw hit his first home run of the game. Cutting the lead to 5-2. They continued to chip away in the 2nd, as 2 solo home runs, including the 2nd by Shaw made it a 5-4 game in favor of Nebraska.
In the 3rd inning, you really noticed the bottom 4 inches of the zone just disappeared, and the Huskers were the first to take advantage. Max Anderson and Gabe Swansen hit back to back home runs to lead off the inning. Anderson took over the team lead with 18, and Swansen hit his 14th, but only 2nd away from Haymarket Park. And only a couple batters later, Efry Cervantes turned on a high fastball and hit his 2nd of the season, a 2 run shot to extend the lead to 9-4.
You get a home run! You get a home run! You get a home run! pic.twitter.com/PjNrLLgzUY— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) May 6, 2023
While this was going on, Husker starting pitcher Jace Kaminska had put up a nice streak of 7 Maryland batters in a row, but ran into trouble in the 5th. After a leadoff walk, the Huskers lucked out as Matt Shaw hit a ball less than a foot to far to center field, and it hit the “green monster” they have for a batter’s eye, instead of being a home run. That relief wouldn’t last long. After what looked like a strike 3 on Nick Lorusso, the leading RBI man in the NCAAs drilled a 3 run home run to bring the game to 9-7.
Nebraska was gifted those 3 runs right back in the 6th, as they only used 1 hit, but had multiple walks and HBPs to bring the first two runs home. Efry Cervantes brought in the final one with a sacrifice fly, pushing the Husker lead to 12-7. Though there was an appeal that Josh Caron left second base early and was called out, even though replay showed it was clearly simultaneous. That ended the inning prematurely, with all the momentum working in the Huskers favor.
The Huskers would also be in the giving mood. After Maryland loaded the bases, back to back passed balls allowed 2 runs to score. These were the 5th and 6th runs Nebraska allowed in the 3 games this week on either passed balls or wild pitched. Something that needs to get sured up for the stretch run. 12-9 Nebraska after 6.
After a rare offensive dry spell in the game, Shaw hit his 2nd double of the day in the bottom of the 8th with a runner on, giving Maryland runners on second and third. The tying run stepped up to the plate with 2 outs, in Lorusso again. But Shay Schanaman struck him out preserving the Husker lead going to the 9th, and the best part of the order in the rear view mirror.
Schanaman would allow an unearned run to score in the 9th, but finish off his 5 inning outing with 0 earned runs allowed in a game that was all about offense until he stepped onto the mound. He gave up 4 hits and 4 walks, but struck out 7 Terrapins with an incredibly tight strike zone.
For the second time this year Nebraska has been involved in an 8 home run game, the record for the Big Ten. And unlike yesterday, the Huskers were able to get a whole lot of good defensive plays, the 6th inning notwithstanding.
The rubber match for the series will be Sunday, at noon central. Expect to see Will Walsh on the mound as the Huskers look to take the series against a ranked team on the road.