Nebraska and Iowa had the opener of their three-game series on Friday moved up from 7 p.m. to 3:35 due to forecasted inclement weather in Lincoln.
The Huskers came into the contest with much-needed momentum generated from a three-game winning streak. During that stretch, the Huskers outscored Indiana, Kansas State and Omaha by a combined score of 41-16 in 25 innings.
While Nebraska’s offense made solid contact on Iowa right-hander Adam Mazur all afternoon, much of that contact went right to Hawkeye defenders. The result? A 1-0 win for Iowa and a two-hit shutout for Mazur, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound transfer from South Dakota State.
“He’s got a great arm,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said after the game. “He was still throwing upper 90s in the last inning there. Command of the slider, the breaking ball was really good as we knew it would be. I thought we took good swings. I thought we were ready to hit. This one felt a lot differently, honestly, than some of the ones where we’ve had a lot left to be desired offensively.
“I don’t have any issue with how we competed today.”
Nebraska got seven strong innings of one-run baseball on the mound from starter Shay Schanaman. The Grand Island, Nebraska, native allowed the lone run—a homer off the bat of Izaya Fullard to right field to lead off the fourth—and six hits while striking out eight batters against two walks.
“I thought he was very competitive,” Bolt said of Schanaman. “He didn’t have some things go his way in the game and he pitched like a veteran today, I can say that.”
Tyler Martin came on in relief and threw two innings while keeping Iowa scoreless. He allowed just one hit.
Iowa’s strength is its pitching staff. The Hawkeyes, who improved to 25-13 overall and 9-4 in the Big Ten, came into Friday’s game with a team earned-run average of 3.49, which ranked second in the conference and 10th in the country, just behind Creighton’s 3.46.
The Huskers didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning when Core Jackson slapped a single to right field. Jackson went 1-of-2 at the plate and drew a walk. Brice Matthews had the other Husker hit, a single in the seventh.
“He’s taking more aggressive swings, more committed swings,” Bolt said of Jackson. “He’s less guessing, just dictating the at-bat a little more than just getting picked on at times. I think he’s been on the barrel a ton and on base a lot for us.”
While Jackson, a freshman from Wyoming, Ontario, Canada, is getting more comfortable at the plate, he’s looking right at home defensively at second base. The 6-foot, 185-pounder made multiple infield stops that saved potential hits Friday.
Jackson said he understandably didn’t see the kind of high velocity pitching he’s seeing right now in college while playing high school ball in Canada. There were tough outings to begin his Husker career, but each game he plays he’s getting more used to the speed of the game.
“I feel like I’m starting to adjust now, finally,” Jackson said.
Iowa, which recently took two out of three games from the Big Ten’s best, Rutgers, finished the game with seven hits and left seven runners on base. The Huskers left four on base while striking out six times and drawing two walks.
Nebraska threatened in the bottom of the third, but couldn’t plate any runs. Jackson and Cam Chick reached on walks while Garrett Anglim was plunked to load the bases with two outs. But Mazur got out of the jam by striking out Griffin Everitt to keep the game a scoreless tie.
“Probably about my only complaint is our at-bat with the bases loaded there,” Bolt said. “We weren’t aggressive, and you can’t do that against a guy like that (Mazur).”
The Hawkeyes didn’t waste time taking the lead after Nebraska failed to execute in that scoring opportunity. Fullard, a 5-foot-11, 230-pounder, led off the fourth with a solo shot on a full count, his second of the season. His longball landed over the right-field wall and into his own pitcher’s bullpen to give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
Game two is slated for a 4:02 p.m. start on Saturday.