There weren’t ideal baseball conditions in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday as the Huskers looked to take the first series of the Big Ten slate against Michigan. The temperature was in the 30s for most of the game, and it was Nebraska’s offense that went cold and stayed that way for nine innings.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines outhit Nebraska 9-6, hit their eighth home run of the series and left Haymarket Park with a 6-1 win to clinch the series 2-1. The Wolverines improved to 13-10 on the year while the Huskers dropped to 9-13. Nebraska will travel to Omaha on Tuesday night for a 6:30 p.m. midweek game with Creighton.
Nebraska’s bats had a hard time figuring out Michigan starter Jacob Denner, a right-hander from New Jersey who, in his last three outings against Indiana State, Louisville and Dayton, gave up a combined 21 hits and 14 earned runs. But on Sunday, the 6-foot, 195-pound Denner lasted 5 2/3 innings and held the Huskers to just three hits and one run, which came via a Max Anderson two-out solo home run that landed in the Wolverines’ bullpen in right field.
There were opportunities for the Husker offense, but Nebraska never cashed in.
In the sixth, Nebraska was close to cutting into its 3-1 deficit with runners on first and second with two outs, but Michigan head coach Erik Bakich went to his bullpen to put reliever Noah Rennard in the game. Rennard got the job done as he forced Core Jackson to fly out to end the threat.
That scoreless sixth wound up hurting Nebraska as Michigan tacked on two runs in the seventh after three Husker relievers—C.J. Hood, Tyler Martin and Mason Ornelas—combined to load the bases with a single, a hit batter and walk. Michigan’s Matt Frey, who homered in the third inning to give him three straight games with a long ball, then hit an RBI groundout. Shortly after, a wild pitch from Ornelas plated another run to put the Wolverines up 5-1 in the seventh.
The Wolverines added one more run in the ninth along the way to sealing the victory.
“That’s the one thing we’ve been consistent with, is inconsistency,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said after the game. “The message to the team last night after the game was, we didn’t win but we competed hard, we competed to the last out. I thought we were on our way to turning a corner offensively a little bit after the first two days this weekend.”
The Huskers left 10 on base in the loss. Cam Chick fared the best at the plate, going 2-for-5. The Missouri native and team captain looks to be working his way out of the slump he’s been in. Chick came into the game with a .180 batting average in 50 at-bats. He also came into the game with a team-high 14 walks.
In the first inning, the Huskers had runners on first and second with one out, but Griffin Everitt couldn’t bring anyone home with a strikeout. Then Garrett Anglim drew a two-out walk to load the bases, but Josh Caron struck out to leave a zero on the scoreboard.
“We kind of had our moment there in the first inning, everything was set up for us—four-pitch walk, they don’t get an out there at second base. You kind of have your moment to go take control of a game and have a chance to go win a series,” Bolt said. “The tone was set there when we didn’t get the job done. We were late on the fastball and kind of let him (Denner) settle in when it looked like he was getting ready to go sideways there in the first.”
Nebraska started right-hander Dawson McCarville. The Grand Canyon transfer had a rough start but made up for it with a strong finish. He wound up throwing 5 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. He allowed six hits and three earned runs.
“I didn’t think he was real sharp early on, but he kind of got settled in and gave us a great shot to win,” Bolt said.
After the shaky start, McCarville struck out the side in the top of the fourth and wound up sitting down nine in a row during a stretch from the third to sixth inning. He left the game in the top of the sixth after Michigan put runners on first and second with one out. C.J. Hood, a freshman from Norris High School, did his job by forcing a grounder that turned into a 4-6-3 double play to keep the Wolverines scoreless in the inning.
Got the ground ball.
↳ 4-6-3 DP for Hood.
Huskers back to bat in the 6th. pic.twitter.com/QbcvCF0sem
— Nebraska Baseball (@Husker_Baseball) March 27, 2022
The Huskers face Creighton Tuesday night in Omaha. Before Sunday’s contest with Wichita State, Creighton was riding a seven-game win streak.