No way seven-and-a-half innings into the third game of Nebraska’s series at Ohio State on Sunday could anyone have imagined Luis Alvarado, or any Husker pitcher, being in a save situation.
Nebraska led 11-1. And that’s not a misprint, 11-1.
Husker starter Jake Meyers, who had thrown 89 pitches and allowed just one run on six hits, gave way to Nate Fisher, who faced seven batters, getting one out and allowing six hits before giving way to Chad Luensmann, who got the final two outs, but not before two more hits and a walk.
Ohio State scored eight runs, six of them charged to Fisher.
Alvarado came on the pitch the ninth and after a Brady Cherry single, his fourth hit of the game, retired the next three batters, including the final two by strikeout, to preserve the victory – his team-high eighth save — and leave Nebraska alone in second place in the Big Ten, behind Maryland.
The Terrapins are 13-5 (.722) in conference play. Nebraska, 26-16-1 overall, is 9-5-1 (.633), just ahead of Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota and Purdue, all with 9-6 (.600) Big Ten records.
Sunday’s 11-9 victory gave the Huskers the series win. They won the second game 3-1 on Saturday, after losing the first 9-7 despite holding a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Friday’s opener was suspended by weather and resumed on Saturday. Matt Waldron replaced starter Jake Hohensee and after a scoreless fourth, allowed six runs on eight hits in the fifth.
“It’s a good lesson (to) never let your guard down,” Coach Darin Erstad said during Sunday’s post-game interview on the IMG Husker radio network, “and anything can happen.”
He was talking about Sunday’s game, but his words applied to the opener as well.
Nebraska scored 21 runs over the weekend but was out-hit 34-30 by a Buckeye team that went into the series with a .243 team batting average, ranking next-to-last in the Big Ten.
“I still believe our best offense is ahead of us this year,” Erstad said before the Huskers left Lincoln. And they again showed glimpses of what it can be, despite stranding 27 runners.
Scott Schreiber, Ben Miller and Jake Schleppenbach each drove in three runs on Sunday. Schreiber went 7-for-14 on the weekend to raise his team-leading average to .331. He also drove in two runs in the opener and now has 35, also a team high.
Schleppenbach was 6-for-13 in the three games and has driven in 25 runs, third on the team.
In addition to improving his pitching record to 7-1, with a 2.73 earned-run-average, Meyers was 4-for-11 at-bat, walked twice and scored four runs. He’s now hitting .289.
Because of final exams, Nebraska doesn’t play mid-week. The Huskers will play host to Rutgers in a three-game series beginning Friday night. The Scarlet Knights are ninth in the Big Ten with a 5-7 conference record. Nebraska’s other Big Ten series are against Michigan State, eighth at 7-8, and at Penn State, last in the conference at 2-13. The Huskers also have a non-conference game at Creighton.
Holding on to win Sunday’s game and the series was “huge to have a good feeling to go into finals week,” Erstad said during his Sunday radio interview. His team “found a way to get it done.”
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.