2022 Nebraska North Dakota State Baseball
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Husker Relievers Hold off North Dakota State in Midweek Win

April 20, 2022

Behind the offense of two team captains and a steady dose of solid performances from the bullpen, Nebraska started the week 1-0 on Wednesday with a 4-3 win over the North Dakota State Bison at Haymarket Park.

“We were 0-0 this week going into it, and now we’re 1-0 this week. That’s the mindset this team has got to have,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said after the win. His Huskers improved to 14-21 overall while the Bison dropped to 21-12.

Griffin Everitt and Cam Chick—two team captains—both hit solo home runs while Everitt’s two-out, two-run double down the right-field line in the third inning turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead for the Huskers. It also proved to be the game’s final scoring as five Husker relievers—CJ Hood, Chandler Benson, Tyler Martin, Corbin Hawkins and Braxton Bragg—combined to pitch 5.1 scoreless innings while holding the Bison bats to just two hits during that span.

Bragg faced four batters and struck out all of them to seal the win.

Dawson McCarville, who was coming off a stretch where he felt under the weather last week, started on the mound for the Huskers and lasted 3.2 innings. The transfer from Grand Canyon allowed three earned runs and five hits. He struggled a bit with his command, walking two and hitting one batter.

“We had a lot of pitchers step up, including McCarville, who, I think he lost 12 pounds this week and obviously wasn’t sharp,” Bolt said. “But the fact that he didn’t let it get completely sideways early, it gave us a shot early. I thought the bullpen was outstanding, stranding inherited runners and finishing the game off.”

McCarville left the mound with a 4-3 lead, but with runners on first and second with two outs. Hood entered the game, and the 6-foot-4 right-handed freshman from Norris High School got out of the jam with a strikeout.

Hood pitched 1.1 innings out of the bullpen and held the Bison scoreless and hitless while throwing two strikeouts and two walks. Benson threw one inning and gave up a hit, but not a score.

“They made big pitches when they needed to,” Bolt said of Hood and Benson. “They’ve been in the fire now at this point, so they’ve seen some different situations. We’re going to have to keep leaning on them, because that’s just where we’re at. It was good to see those guys do their job.”

It was a rather eventful first three innings for both teams. Starting in the first, each team rattled off impressive double plays.

With a runner on second and one out, the Huskers recorded a 3-4-6 double play when a line drive hit off Jack Steil’s glove at first and into the waiting glove of second baseman Brice Matthews behind him. Matthews calmly tossed the ball to Efry Cervantes at shortstop for the third out. With no outs and a man on first, North Dakota State’s defense completed a 5-3 double play when third baseman Charley Hesse caught a popped-up bunt, then fired to first in time for the force.

After those double plays, the offenses got rolling.

The Bison got on the scoreboard first thanks to an RBI single from Cadyn Schwabe that scored Jack Simonsen, who advanced to third after a throwing error to second from Cervantes. The lead didn’t last long, though.

Nebraska’s Griffin Everitt tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the second with a leadoff home run to right-center, his team-high seventh of the season. But in the top of the third, North Dakota State answered when Druw Sackett gave his team a 3-1 lead after smashing a two-run homer to left field. It was a two-run shot instead of the solo variety because McCarville plunked the leadoff batter, Brock Anderson.

The offenses continued to go back and forth in the bottom of the third. After beginning the half inning with two strikeouts, the Huskers’ two-out offense came alive. Nebraska scored three runs and racked up four hits with two outs to take a 4-3 lead.

“Coach Bolt talked about it in the huddle. I think we started that inning with two punchouts, and just seeing the resiliency of us to keep the line moving was huge there,” Everitt said.

In that third frame, Chick jacked his sixth home run of the year to center, just over the 395-feet sign. Then, after back-to-back two-out singles from Garrett Anglim and Max Anderson, Everitt stayed hot by connecting on a two-out, two-run double down the right-field line to give Nebraska a 4-3 edge.

“I was trying to let the ball travel,” Everitt said. “I feel like I’ve gotten away from going the other way with it, maybe pulling the ball a little too much. When I’m at my best, I’m hitting the other way. So today I was really just trying to let the ball travel, stay behind it.”

In the bottom of the fourth, the Huskers had runners on second and third with one out in the fourth. Jack Steil struck out swinging, but Chick was plunked to load the bases with two outs. Anglim couldn’t cash in on the opportunity as he flew out to left.

Nebraska’s relievers did a good job of holding the lead. Tyler Martin played with fire, however, as he was on the mound for the seventh and trouble found him right away. After allowing a bloop single, he walked Peter Brookshaw to put runners on first and second with no outs. After forcing two flyouts, Martin left the game and Corbin Hawkins entered with runners on first and third with two outs. Hawkins did his job, forcing a third straight flyout from the Bison to escape the inning unscathed.

Both teams finished with seven hits, with Everitt leading the way with two. Chick was actually just 1-for-1 at the plate because he was hit three times. That hasn’t happened to a Husker since Kale Kiser was plunked three times against Oklahoma State on April 3, 2011.

Next up for Nebraska is a three-game series on the road at Indiana (14-22, 2-7 in the Big Ten) beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. central time. Indiana beat Cincinnati on Wednesday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

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