Photo Credit: John Peterson

Huskers Fall in Walk-Off Fashion at Omaha

March 13, 2022

It wasn’t Friday the 13th. But it might as well have been. Instead, it was March 13th, and the Nebraska baseball team played its 13th game of the season.

Get the picture?

No? OK, how about Coach Will Bolt’s post-game comments on the Husker Network?

“Bottom line, just, we’re underachieving it, massively,” he said. “We’re positionally, just defensively, offensively (underachieving) . . . (which) puts a lot of pressure on our pitching staff.”

What elicited that was a 4-3 walk-off loss to Omaha, in Omaha, on Sunday afternoon.

The Mavericks went into the game with a 4-9 record, which Nebraska now has going into Monday’s 1:05 p.m. home-opener, also against Omaha at Haymarket Park.

There’s little time to regroup after managing just three hits and striking out 11 times. The Huskers drew five walks, but capitalized on only one, Josh Caron’s with one out in the second. Caron stole second base and came home on Core Jackson’s single, on a three-two count.

The freshman from Wyoming, Ontario, also drove in the Huskers’ other runs with a two-out home run to tie the game in the sixth. Caron had reached on an error.

At that point it appeared Nebraska had awakened. But the next seven batters went down. Caron led off the ninth with a walk. With two out, he stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw. But the inning ended with Omaha reliever Joey Machado striking out Jack Steil.

That’s not meant to single out Steil. Remember, the Huskers struck out 10 other times.

Nebraska’s starter, Koty Frank, pitched five innings and allowed a sixth-inning single before being replaced by Kyle Perry, who finished and was charged with the loss.

Frank survived three walks in the second inning before giving up three runs in the third, on consecutive hits to begin the inning, the third a two-run home run by Mike Boeve.

The first run scored on a double, a single and an error.

Frank settled in then, retiring seven in a row before the six-inning single.

Perry retired the first five batters he faced, including two by strikeout, and registered a third strikeout to open the ninth. But Jack Lombardi doubled and Harrison Denk singled him in before the overflow crowd of 3,009—double seating capacity—at Tal Anderson Field.

Bolt shuffled the lineup, hoping to generate some momentum for a team that has struck out 126 times, with only 31 walks. “You look at the top six in the order, almost everybody’s an underclassman, so we’re definitely going to need some guys to step up that have been there and done that at times at this level, give us better at-bats,” he said.

Four of the first six in the order were freshmen, with one sophomore and one senior.

Two of the five walks came in the third inning, the first to Leighton Banjoff after Colby Gomes led off with a strikeout. Banjoff stole second but for naught.

“We let ‘em off the hook, I believe it was in the third inning there, had a chance to really cash in and put a big inning together, had the right guys at the plate,” Bolt said.

Garrett Anglim, who batted lead-off, popped up, Luke Jessen walked and Max Anderson struck out.

Nebraska is scheduled to play six games in the next seven days and  one more before opening Big Ten play against Michigan March 25-27. All are home games.

“Mindset-wise, we’re pretty far off,” said Bolt. “The message is the same as it’s always been. The tougher team’s going to win, and we’ve got to find a way to be a lot more mentally tough.

“And we’ve got to find a way to piece together some quality games.”

No one anticipated the Huskers’ struggles to this point.

That’s a painful fact.

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