Nebraska was at it again Sunday afternoon to finish the three game series with No. 21 Baylor. Sunday’s matchup proved not to be as friendly for the Huskers as the first two in the series. The Bears won 10-3, but Nebraska still leaves Waco with a 2-1 series win.
For the first time in the series, Nebraska struggled on the mound. The Huskers gave up 10 runs on 18 hits. Baylor’s bats were hot, but Nebraska also has some concern with the exit of sophomore pitcher Connor Curry. Curry left the game in the fourth inning with an apparent arm injury. He sat out all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
"We're going to stay positive,” Coach Darin Erstad said on Husker Sports Network post-game. “He's strong as an ox. Who knows what it is, but we'll see where it's at."
The Huskers used five pitchers on the day and recorded only four strikeouts. Offensively, Nebraska manufactured three runs on four hits.
Let’s look at three takeaways from the series as a whole.
Command on the Mound
For the first time this season, Nebraska really showed potential at the pitcher position. Senior Matt Waldron went for seven innings on Friday, giving up only two runs and notching eight strikeouts. Waldron has the lowest ERA on the team right now at 2.25 and a 2-0 record.
Senior Nate Fisher followed on Saturday with an impressive performance of his own. Fisher lasted eight innings, which was the longest by a Husker pitcher this season. He gave up zero hits against one of the best offensive teams in the nation.
Junior Chad Luensmann and freshman Colby Gomes stepped up and showed the ability to come in and close out games for Nebraska. Luensmann and Gomes should only get better in this role, especially as Luensmann gains confidence after surgery and Gomes builds on his freshman campaign.
Obviously things turned south in Game 3, but if Nebraska can stay healthy things are looking better on the mound.
Home Run Ability
On Friday, Nebraska got its first home run of the season off the bat of senior Angelo Altavilla. This was Atavilla’s first at bat of the series and it really set the tone early for the Huskers.
Three batters later, Luke Roskam thought it would be neat to join the club so he sent one over the fence too. Roskam and Altavilla had strong weekend performances after struggling to get going early in the season.
Altavilla added to it all, finishing Game 1 with a three-run bomb in the ninth inning to seal a 12-2 victory.
Another note to add is that Gomes was robbed of a home run twice in Game 2. Look for Gomes to add some power to the lineup as the season continues.
Defense is for Real
Nebraska did a good job to back up their pitchers all weekend. The Huskers recorded only three errors in the series. Freshman Spencer Schwellenbach seems to be settling in at shortstop, as well as leadoff batter.
The coaching staff has commented on how impressed they were with the defense in the fall. If Nebraska can combine great pitching with good defense and minimal errors, it will give them a chance to compete in every game (regardless of an opposing team’s record or ranking).
What’s next? Well, Nebraska’s game with North Dakota State that was scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed. The Huskers are scheduled to be back in action for their first home game on Friday with a three-game series against New Mexico State.