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A Few Things Take Shape Despite Five-Game Skid for Nebraska Baseball

February 23, 2020

Add up the pieces and the Nebraska baseball team is 1-5 after two weekend series, even though the Huskers have scored first—so led—in all six games.

Their start in the Tony Gwynn Classic was a mini version of their start at Baylor to open the season. They staked starter Gareth Stroh to a 7-0 lead three innings in against San Diego and still led 7-4 when he departed after five-plus innings.  They finished with 18 hits and 11 runs.

San Diego scored five runs in the seventh and three in the eighth, however.

Final score, 12-11.

To borrow a phrase from Jimi Hendrix, the theme might’ve been: “Can’t get no relief.”

Closer Shay Schanaman was charged with his second loss in as many appearances this season, allowing the final two runs on a triple and single.

Nebraska got good starts from Colby Gomes and Cade Povich in the second and third games, a 4-2 loss to San Diego State and a 3-2 loss to Arizona, which went into the weekend ranked 23rd.

Gomes, who gave up five runs in two-plus innings at Baylor, allowed one run on two hits in five-plus innings against San Diego State, and Povich followed with 5.2 innings against the Wildcats, allowing three runs on four hits, walking one and striking out eight.

Povich, who is 0-2, has a 2.79 ERA with 15 strikeouts and just the one walk in 9.2 innings.

After the San Diego game, the Husker bats were effectively silenced. Nebraska had eight hits in the first three innings against the Toreros. It would have eight hits total in the final two games.

The sixth inning of the Arizona game was reflective of the second and third days.

The Wildcats had taken a 3-1 lead in the top half of the sixth inning on a single and a home run by Blake Paugh, his second in as many at-bats. Spencer Schwellenbach was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the inning and after Aaron Palensky flied out, Luke Roskam walked. Schwellenbach and Roskam advanced on a wild pitch, putting the tying runs at second and third.

But Ty Roseberry struck out swinging. And Leighton Banjoff struck out looking.

Cam Chick led off the eighth inning with a home run—he led off the second Baylor game with a home run—but the next seven Husker batters were retired, two by strikeout, to finish the game.

Nebraska batters struck out 31 times over the weekend, 11 more than at Baylor.

In addition to the starters, reliever Kyle Perry was among the bright spots in San Diego. The sophomore left-hander pitched 2.1 innings, as he did at Baylor, with the same result—seven up and seven down. He has yet to allow a batter to reach base in 4.2 innings.

Through six games, Chick leads the Huskers with a .379 batting average and .690 slugging percentage. Palensky is hitting .333 with a home run and a team-high 10 RBIs, while Roskam and Roseberry are the only other regulars hitting over .300. Both are at .304.

Junior Jaxon Hallmark, who was 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the first two innings of the season-opener before being injured, made the trip to San Diego but was held out. The hope is he’ll be able to play when the Huskers travel to Arizona State for a series this weekend.

The batting order is taking shape. The first seven were the same in all three games in San Diego, with Chick leading off. Hallmark, when healthy, will likely return to that spot, with Chick second.

Those pieces are falling into place, along with the weekend pitching rotation.

Or so it would seem. But other things haven’t added up as expected.

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