On Sunday, the Omaha Mavericks got a 4-3 walk-off win in Omaha over Nebraska. Not even 24 hours later, the two teams met again, this time at Haymarket Park in Lincoln.
In a back-and-forth affair that saw four home runs to right field, it was the Lincoln native himself, Griffin Everitt, who returned the favor against the Mavs with a game-winning RBI single. Everitt got the hit off relief pitcher Tanner Howe and sent it to the right-center gap in the bottom of the ninth that scored Max Anderson to give the Huskers a 6-5 walk-off win in their home opener.
Final: #Huskers 6, Omaha 5
Griffin Everitt ends the game with an RBI single in the B9 which scores Max Anderson, who doubled earlier himself.
NU gets walked-off yesterday, now it returns the favor against the Mavs. pic.twitter.com/zoNHzBggxX
— Steve Marik (@Steve_Marik) March 14, 2022
Everitt, a Lincoln Southwest graduate and former transfer from Kansas City Kansas Community College, went 4-for-5 at the plate and had four RBIs. The 6-foot, 210-pound catcher hit two of the game’s four home runs. He now leads the team with three homers and 11 RBIs on the season.
“I knew he (Howe) was gonna want to mix me. I was just trying to stick to the center of the field and wait for a good pitch to hit,” Everitt said after the game.
Everitt thought the pitch he hit was a slider. Whatever it was, it didn’t really matter—Everitt was seeing the ball well at the plate all game.
“I was just waiting for my right pitch and I got it,” he said.
After getting walked-off in Omaha on Sunday and losing to Kansas State on the road in a midweek game before that, Nebraska needed the win in the home opener. Everitt said he thought the team has responded well all season, even though the 5-9 record doesn’t show it.
Huskers’ head coach Will Bolt challenged his team recently, Everitt said. The message was heard loud and clear, especially from the veteran players on the roster, Everitt included. That was one of the reasons the Huskers held a players-only meeting after the loss on Sunday. Then it was right back to the diamond.
“We’re responsible for it, we’re the ones who have been here, been in the program,” Everitt said. “We have to be able to set the example and set the standard, and he (Bolt) had felt we weren’t living up to that, and we weren’t. We had a players meeting, got together, talked about it. I think we’re going to be working toward the right thing here.”
What was said in the meeting? Everitt kept this answer short and sweet, saying it was an opportunity for everyone to get on the same page.
“With all the success, especially with all the young guys we have, you never know what guys are thinking,” Everitt said of the team meeting. “It was really just for us to get everything out, talk it through and see where everyone’s at and make sure we’re all on the same page.”
After throwing a complete-game shutout in his last outing, right-hander Shay Schanaman gave the Huskers another quality start on the mound Monday. He lasted six innings while giving up two runs (one earned) and only three hits. He walked four batters, but struck out six.
Mason Ornelas, Emmett Olson and Braxton Bragg all pitched in relief. Olson, who struck out two, had runners at the corners with two outs in the top of the ninth while nursing a 5-4 lead. Needing just one more out, Olson gave up a game-tying RBI single to Eddie Satisky. Bragg then came in with the bases loaded but got out of the half inning unscathed after forcing a groundout on his first pitch.
It doesn’t matter what the win looked like, Bolt said after the game. Pretty or ugly, a win counts the same.
“We just needed something good to happen for us. I think the way we won it, too, I think that may go a little bit further,” Bolt said. “We give the lead up there at the end, and credit to their hitters—unbelievable pieces of hitting there at the end to tie the game up. And Bragg comes in and gets us off the field. We weren’t gonna wait around, I’m glad we got that over with in the ninth inning. What can you say about Griffin Everitt, he was a true leader today.”
Efry Cervantes was the only other Husker who hit a home run. His first career homer came in the seventh, just before Everitt’s two-run shot. Omaha’s Mike Boeve hit the lone long ball for the Mavs, who drop to 5-10 on the season. All four of the home runs on Monday went over the wall in right field. There was a stiff south wind that helped fly balls escape the park.
Nebraska’s offense, which outhit Omaha 12-7, wasn’t doing much until the sixth inning when it scored two runs off an Everitt solo shot and an RBI double from Garrett Anglim, a Papillion-La Vista product who has seven hits in his last five games. Brice Matthews went 3-for-4 at the plate while Anderson went 2-of-5 with a double.
Up next for the Huskers is a two-game home series beginning Tuesday against New Mexico State, which will come to Lincoln with a 9-4 record. The Aggies are coming off a 2-1 series loss to Seattle University. Former Husker assistant Mike Kirby is the head coach of New Mexico State. He spent five seasons in Lincoln (2014-19).
The first game against the Aggies on Tuesday is slated for 6:35 p.m. while Wednesday’s game is set for 1:35 p.m.
It will be a week full of baseball for the Huskers, who are scheduled to play seven games in eight days dating back to the Sunday loss at Omaha. The team is leaning on Everitt, who brings that stabilizing leadership Bolt is looking for.
“The four hits are awesome. The couple home runs are awesome. The game-winning hit is awesome,” Bolt said. “But the guys who have been in the grease before, they know what it looks like and they know what it’s supposed to look like. Just putting good swings on it and having a good approach—Griffin was at the forefront of that today.”