When Jake Hohensee went out to pitch the ninth inning of Nebraska’s 3-1 victory against Maryland on Friday night, the junior right-hander got a standing ovation from the crowd of 6,395 – or those who hadn’t left to try to get a headstart leaving the parking lots.
The Huskers led 3-0 and Hohensee had allowed only one hit. It appeared he might pitch a complete game. “You’d love to have him have that opportunity,” Coach Darin Erstad said. “The fans were getting excited. But you don’t always get what you want in this game.
“I guess we wanted a win. We’ll take that.”
To be sure. Nebraska and Maryland went into the game tied for second in the Big Ten.
Hohensee got one out in the ninth but gave up two hits and gave way to Luis Alvarado, who allowed one hit before getting the final two outs, including a strikeout, to earn his fifth save.
“I was a little too amped and kind of got over eager with some of my fastballs,” Hohensee said of the ninth inning. “And that’s the way it goes.”
Nevertheless, “we got a good team win out of it,” he said.
Relief or not, Hohensee won the pitching duel with Maryland’s Brian Shaffer, who went into the game with a 4-1 record and a 1.70 earned-run-average.
Opponents were hitting only .187 against him.
Nebraska had eight hits, including two each from Alvarado, Ben Miller and Jake Schleppenbach. But the big hit was Jesse Wilkening’s opposite-field double that drove in two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, on a one-ball-two-strike count.
“We used the whole field there . . . didn’t try and pull that ball,” said Erstad. “So when you get your chances against guys like that, you have to find a way.”
It was a matter of executing; something the Huskers did throughout the game.
None more so than Hohensee, who struck out eight and walked only two, a performance in marked contrast to his pre-game warm-up.
“Actually, I threw one of my worst bullpens that I’ve had,” he said. “You know what I say? You know what, it doesn’t matter what you do in there (the bullpen). It’s what you do on that mound over there. It just clicked.”
He didn’t rely on one pitch. “Everything was working decent,” he said. “My fastball was a little up in the zone, but we mixed so well that my fastball was kind of deceiving to the batter.
“So it helped a lot that my slider and my change-up were working tonight.”
Maryland hit some balls hard early but they were fly-outs.
“The first couple of innings, he did a good job of getting ahead (in the count), but with two strikes, his pitches were elevated and they were knocking the crap out of it,” Erstad said.
“We got away with a couple of pitches.”
After that, however, Hohensee “got it rolling a little bit,” said Erstad.
Actually, more than a little bit until the ninth inning.
Nebraska improves to 18-10-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the Big Ten, while Maryland drops to 19-9 and 5-2. Saturday’s game is set to start at 2:02 p.m. and will be televised by BTN. Derek Burkamper (2-2, 3:04) is set to pitch for the Huskers, Taylor Bloom (3-2, 3.89) for the Terrapins.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.