After a 1-0 win on Thursday night, the Huskers couldn’t keep the momentum going on Friday at Haymarket Park as they dropped both games of a doubleheader against the visiting BYU Cougars—and both losses came by one run.
In the first game, Nebraska lost 3-2 in seven innings. In the second, the Huskers fell 7-6 in the traditional nine. The fourth and final game of the series is Sunday at 11:05 a.m.
Game one: BYU 3, Nebraska 2
Nebraska fell 3-2 in the seven-inning contest despite a great outing from right-handed pitcher Shay Schanaman, who threw all seven innings and didn’t give up an earned run. He struck out five Cougars, walked two and allowed just two hits. The defense behind Schanaman, however, committed three errors.
The Huskers trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh. After Core Jackson grounded out, Luke Sartori was plunked to reach first. He wound up stealing second, then advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Nebraska couldn’t cash in on the opportunity, though, as Luke Jessen struck out and Cam Chick flied out to seal the loss.
Nebraska mustered just two hits in the game against four BYU pitchers, who combined to strike out five Huskers. Jack Steil was the only other Husker to record a hit in the game outside of Max Anderson, who led off the fourth with a solo home run. Nebraska’s bats were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and 0-for-10 when runners reached base all together. The hosts stranded five runners.
Anderson’s leadoff home run that landed in BYU’s bullpen in right field broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth, giving the Huskers a 1-0 edge. It was Anderson’s third homer of the season.
One batter later, Griffin Everitt reached after getting plunked by Cougars’ starting pitcher Ryan Brady, who came into the game with a 2-2 record and 4.22 earned-run average. Consecutive sacrifice bunts from both Nick Wimmers and Brice Matthews moved Everitt to third, and head coach Will Bolt’s small-ball decision wound up paying off when reliever Cy Nielson threw a wild pitch that allowed Everitt to slide home safely to put Nebraska up 2-0.
Trouble found Schanaman and the defense behind him in the fifth, however, and it turned a 2-0 Husker lead into 3-2 advantage for the Cougars.
Schanaman issued a leadoff walk, then after a flyout, Jackson, the freshman at short, recorded a throwing error when his almost-double play toss to Matthews at second was wide of the mark, which allowed a base runner to advance to third and second. Another walk from Schanaman loaded the bases, and Dawsen Hall then stepped to the plate to deliver an RBI single.
The throw home from left fielder Chick got past the catcher, Everitt, though, which plated another Cougar run to tie the game. BYU quickly grabbed a 3-2 lead when Ozzie Pratt hit a sacrifice fly to center.
While Schanaman did well enough to get a win, it was the mistakes that stung the Huskers in the loss.
“I thought he pitched well,” Bolt said after the second game. “He had 38 pitches and a 2-0 lead that felt like a 5-0 lead, and then all the sudden you look up and all those things I talked about; we make an error, we have a double-play ball and then we don’t back up home plate.
“That shouldn’t be the game, but it is.”
Game two: BYU 7, Nebraska 6
Nebraska trailed 6-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh but started to find success against BYU starter Bryce Robison and reliever Carter Smith.
After Matthews grounded out, Steil reached with a walk. Chick then chased Robison from the mound with a two-run home run to the right-center gap that cut the Cougars’ advantage to 6-5. That was Chick’s fourth longball of the season.
Smith then hit the first batter he faced, Garrett Anglim, which provided Anderson an opportunity he didn’t waste. The Millard West product connected on an RBI triple down the right-field line that tied the game at 6. Anderson finished the game with two hits, a double and triple.
The stalemate was short-lived, however. A solo home run from freshman Mason Strong, his first of the year, gave the Cougars the lead right back at 7-6 in the top of the eighth.
Nebraska had an opportunity to at least even the score in the bottom half of the eighth, but it didn’t happen. Steil struck out swinging with two outs, but was able to reach due to a wild pitch rolling to the backstop. Tyler Palmer came in as a pinch runner and stole second, but the inning ended with a strikeout from Chick.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Huskers went down in order with two strikeouts looking and one swinging.
“I thought the challenge after the first game was to do something about it, and I felt like we came out ready to do that in the second game today,” Bolt said. “There are those moments in the game where it can become deflating at times when you take a strike three with a runner in scoring position, and you have a chance to run through the wall and you just don’t do it.
“The guys in the dugout are fighting their tails off, they’re behind their teammates. It’s a matter of the guys on the field actually just going out and running through the wall to go get the job done, and us as coaches to push the right buttons to do that.”
Emmett Olson was on the mound for his third start of the season in game two of the doubleheader. He lasted five innings and allowed just one earned run and two hits while striking out five and walking three.
Olson left the game with a 3-2 lead, but it didn’t last. BYU’s bats got to reliever Mason Ornelas early and often in the sixth, scoring three runs on three hits—two doubles and one single.
Nebraska outhit BYU 8-7 in the loss and left seven runners on base, same as the Cougars. The Huskers went 2-of-12 at the plate with runners in scoring position.
“At the end of the day, you are what your record says you are, and for a reason,” Bolt said. “There’s a lot of moments today where you have control of the game, or you feel like you’re in control of the game, and they got the big swings and got the big plays, and we didn’t. I thought our offense was better in the second game here, but we had the little things just start to add up.”