Starting pitcher Derek Burkamper didn’t like how the first inning went. He felt off, so he did the one thing he thought might help calm his nerves: Pop in a stick of Juicy Fruit gum.
“I don’t know what was up with the first inning,” Burkamper said. “I was just rattled for whatever reason. Once I finally got out of that inning, I popped some gum in and everything went away.”
Whatever nerves were rattling Burkamper didn’t stick around long. While he allowed a solo homer in the third inning, he was otherwise strong during his 6.2 innings on Saturday. By the time Jake McSteen relieved him in the seventh inning, the Huskers had a comfortable 5-1 lead.
“It feels good to get back to what I know I can do,” Burkamper said. “It was really good.”
The Huskers added a security run in the eighth inning, securing the final score of 6-1. Chad Luensmann relieved McSteen after 2.0 innings for 0.1 innings in the ninth, closing out the Huskers’ second win of the weekend series.
After the game, Erstad said he was pleased with what he’d seen from Burkamper. The junior right-handed pitcher had previously been suspended for the first two-weekend series of the season for violating team rules but Erstad felt he’s catching back up.
“Solo shots are OK,” Erstad said. “With three walks and a lead-off walk, we obviously don’t want that but again, we have to remember he was kind of playing catch up early in the season with his pitch count so it was nice to get that built up a bit and see him get in his normal range.”
“Actually, the past couple of weeks I’ve felt pretty good,” Burkamper said. “I just kind of lost it in a couple outings. Overall, I think I threw 94 pitches and it felt really good.”
As for Nebraska’s pitching overall, Burkamper said it has created competitive between him and Jake Hohensee (who pitched Friday night).
“I think we were pretty identical,” Burkamper said. “We both went 6 2/3 [innings]. I gave up less hits, so I think I won.”
Regardless, Burkamper expects another strong outing from Nebraska’s pitchers on Sunday, especially from the starter.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a trend [to start strong]. It’s expected,” Burkamper said. “If we just go out there and do our business, it’ll take care of itself.”
The Huskers return to Hawks Field at Haymarket Park for the final game of the series with the College of Charleston on Sunday at 11:05 a.m. CT.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.