Nebraska pitching gave up 19 runs in a three-game series at Iowa over the weekend. And the Huskers were shut out, with only three singles, in Friday’s opener, 3-0.
Too negative? How about this? Nebraska scored 23 runs in the final two games, on 24 hits, including seven doubles, two triples and six home runs. Count ‘em, six.
That’s how the Huskers took the series, winning 10-8 and 13-8.
Teams can only go “a couple of different ways” after losing the first of a three-game series, Coach Will Bolt said during his post-game radio show on the Learfield-IMG Network. “One of ‘em involves kind of going away with your tail tucked between your legs.”
The other way was reflected in how his team responded.
“Our guys fought back,” he said.
That was reflected in both wins. Nebraska, now 7-4, scored seven runs in the third inning of Saturday’s game, only to see the Hawkeyes respond with a six-run fifth inning.
The seven-run third featured a grand slam by Cam Chick, followed by a Max Anderson home run and then, after a walk and two outs, a two-run home run by Jack Steil.
After the Huskers opened with a run in the first inning of Sunday’s game, Iowa responded with a three-run home run in the bottom of the first.
Not to worry. Nebraska took control with a six-run second, which began with one-out back-to-back triples by Mojo Hagge and Steil and a double by Luke Roskam.
Chick also hit a two-run home run in the sixth Saturday, after the Hawkeyes had pulled within one, at 8-7. Chick drove in three runs on Sunday and had a double in each of the games. The junior from Columbia, Missouri, appears to have settled into the clean-up spot in the batting order.
Anderson, the designated hitter all weekend, had a three-run home run and drove in five runs Sunday. The freshman from Millard (Neb.) West continues to lead Nebraska in hitting, with a .349 average, and runs-batted-in (14), as well as in home runs (four).
Jaxon Hallmark and Spencer Schwellenbach are the Huskers’ other .300 hitters, Hallmark at .341, Schwellenbach .308, with a team-high 11 runs scored.
In addition to the two home runs each by Chick and Anderson and Steil’s second of the season, Roskam, who caught the second and third games, hit his first home run.
Iowa also hit six home runs on the windy weekend, and would have had a seventh if Ben Norman hadn’t passed a runner while rounding the bases in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game.
The Hawkeyes’ first two home runs of the weekend, the second by Norman, spoiled an otherwise solid pitching effort by Cade Povich, Nebraska’s Friday starter. Povich allowed only two hits, without a walk and six strikeouts through five scoreless innings, before the Hawkeyes opened the bottom of the sixth with a home run, double and home run. Then Povich finished the inning.
Caleb Feekin, Trey Kissack and Emmett Olson (in order) followed him, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out three. But the three-run sixth was all the Hawkeyes needed.
Defense was a factor in the Huskers’ weekend success as well.
Despite the sun and wind in Iowa City, which made playing defense difficult, according to Bolt, “we had some (defensive) plays that took runs off the board, potentially,” he said during his post-game show. “It takes a lot of mental toughness and focus to be able to do that” under such conditions.
Nebraska committed just its second error of the season; right fielder Joe Acker dropped a flyball in the first game, a mistake that didn’t lead to any runs.
Five Husker pitchers, beginning with Shay Schanaman, walked eight and hit a batter in Sunday’s game, adding to the premium placed on defense.
Friday’s loss extended a Nebraska losing streak to three, after a five-game winning streak. So, to quote Meat Loaf: “Two out of three ain’t bad.”