Huskers Stay Hot at the Plate against Penn State
Nebraska took the weekend series with a 9-2 win over Penn State on Saturday, but lost another catcher along the way.
Aaron Bummer held the Nittany Lions to four hits and a run as he got the win and the Husker bats stayed alive, notching 12 more hits with a pair of home runs. However, Nebraska’s depth at catcher took a serious blow when Taylor Fish sustained a hamstring injury running to first base late in the game. Freshman and Wahoo, Neb. native Quinn McGill came into the game behind the plate, where he’ll also be Sunday in the series finale.
“You know what, bring it on, whatever,” Darin Erstad said. “We’re gonna find a way to get this done. Quinn’s gonna be an athlete back there for us.”
The Husker bats picked up right where they left off Friday night, scoring seven unanswered runs in the first three innings.
Austin Darby brought home two runs for the Huskers with his first home run of the year, adding to Pat Kelly’s sacrifice fly out that scored Jake Placzek who reached base on a single.
Ben Miller led off the second for Nebraska with a single, and Ryan Boldt added another sac fly to score him.
“We don’t talk about carryover, we talk about resetting,” Erstad said. “Having that same approach we had, and boy did our guys ever do it.”
Nebraska’s early flurry came to a close in the third, but not before plating another three runs. Boldt, Miller and Fish all contributed with 2-out RBIs that gave the Huskers a 7-run lead through three.
Starting on the mound for Nebraska, Bummer kept the Nittany Lions off the board until the fourth inning when he walked two batters and plunked another to load the bases. Bummer then walked in the only run he gave up in seven complete innings, also giving up four hits. Aside from the fourth inning, Erstad said he wasn’t at all surprised to see Bummer bounce back and finish his outing without giving up another run
“He just kind of lost his feel there that one inning. It’s good that we had a lead to allow him to work through some of the things, but it’s part of growing as a person and as a player, learning how to stop those landslides,” Erstad said.
There wasn’t any scoreboard activity in the fifth or sixth innings, but catcher Fish — in for the injured Tanner Lubach — pulled up after crossing the first base bag in the sixth, and left the game. McGill came in to catch for the injured Fish after seeing him pull up from the Husker bullpen.
“I about forgot my mask,” McGill said laughing. “I took a step out, then turned around and grabbed it and ran back in, so a lot of nerves right away, but like I said, Tanner (Lubach) prepared me for the role.”
Erstad said Fish’s hamstring injuries is in the same leg that’s given him hamstring problems the last three years, adding that Fish will be “day-to-day.”
Darby’s impressive weekend continued as he blasted a leadoff home run to right centerfield, his third of the season.
“Every hitter goes through a hot streak, and I feel like I’ve been seeing the ball well and good things are starting to happen. I hope it stays,” Darby said.
After a pair of hits and RBIs Friday, Darby finished Saturday’s outing with a hit and two more RBIs. Darby said while his attitude as a member of the team of grinders hasn’t changed, he’s seeing the ball better, which helps his approach at the plate.
“I feel like I was taking more aggressive swings than I have been lately, just because lately I feel like I’ve been passive and trying not to drive the baseball but kind of just hit it through the infield,” he said. “Lately it’s been more trying to drive the baseball.”
Jake Hohensee finished the last two innings for the Huskers out of the bullpen, striking out four Penn State batters and giving up an unearned run on a passed ball.
Boldt added Nebraska’s ninth and final run of the game with his third RBI of the day. Saturday marked Boldt’s third 3-RBI game of the year. Penn State added one final run on a passed ball in the ninth, but the Lions finished Saturday with just six hits. Nebraska on the other hand finished with 12 hits, and multiple homers for the second time this season.
“75 degrees, no wind blowing in or across the field, and the wind chill’s not 30 helps a ton,” Erstad joked.