Such a game “definitely puts a little fire in your stomach, gets you really excited,” Zac Repinski said.
Scott Schreiber described it as “an identity moment” for the Nebraska baseball team. “We’re just going to need to grow on top of it,” he said.
Coach Darin Erstad said the game showed “that we can do it, that they’re not just going to fold up shop. I’m not surprised. You never know if you’re going to win those games, but as far as the fight in these guys, I’ve never questioned that.”
The game, of course, was the Huskers’ 10-9 victory in 10 innings at Wichita State on Sunday. They rallied from a 7-2 deficit after four innings and scored two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score at 9 before winning it with Jesse Wilkening’s 10th-inning home run.
Repinski hit a home run with Mojo Hagge on base to account for the ninth-inning runs.
The win salvaged, to some degree, a weekend that included back-to-back losses by 9-1 and 6-3 and put Nebraska above .500 as it opens the home season with a three-day, four-game series against Cal Poly (5-7), beginning on Thursday and including a double-header on Saturday.
Junior right-hander Matt Waldron (1-1, 3.52) is set to start for the Huskers, who are scheduled to play five more games at Hawks Field in the next 11 days before two games at Oral Roberts before the Big Ten-opening series against Minnesota March 23-25, also at Hawks Field.
Nebraska’s 6-5 start, “for not really putting our whole game together, to be surviving so far, it’s been all right,” Erstad said, adding it has shown the Huskers have “just got to grind through some things.
“This is going to be an up-and-down season. We’re going to take our lumps,” he said.
“We’re going to have some guys that are going to have some growing pains, so we’re just going to have to keep grinding and just keep a level head through this whole thing.”
>>Junior left-hander Jake McSteen, part of the weekend rotation to begin the season, has made no decision on whether he’ll try to rehab and return or shut it down and have surgery to resolve the ligament problem that has sidelined him. “I think he’s probably leaning towards just seeing how it goes, maybe a little bit, and not making any decisions right now,” said Erstad.
>>Wilkening leads the Huskers with a .342 batting average, two home runs and 13 runs-batted-in. He went 3-for-5, also doubled, and drove in another run in the Wichita State victory.
>>Schreiber went 2-12 in the three Wichita State games, dropping his average to .286. Schreiber’s hitting has been “some good, some bad,” Erstad said. “I think his first weekend looked real good, and just kind of from there he’s kind of started to chase a few too many pitches, probably missed a few. He’s working on a few things mechanically and trying to get that straightened out. But I’ve got a pretty good feeling he’s just going to be fine when it’s all said and done. There’s definitely another level he can take it to.”
>>Hohensee has emerged as the closer. He’s pitched 5.2 innings in five relief appearances, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out four. He’s 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and five saves. Given the Huskers’ injuries on the mound, could he pitch in a non-save situation? “I’d love to be able to do that, but we’ve got to find somebody else that can finish off a game, too,” said Erstad. “So I would say probably right now that’s not an option.”
>>Repinski went 6-of-12 over the weekend to raise his average to .300. The senior from Prior Lake, Minnesota, by way of Des Moines Area Community College got only 25 official at-bats last season, with five hits and nine strikeouts. He was “trying too darn hard,” Erstad said, “and was swinging at the ball before it even came out of the pitcher’s hand.” This season “I thought he swung the bat really well earlier in the year and hit some balls hard. They were right at guys.”
>>Thursday’s first pitch is set for 1:35 p.m. with temperatures in the low 40s, according to the National Weather Service forecast. Schreiber and his teammates will dress accordingly. “The first couple of years I stuck it out, wore short sleeves,” Schreiber said. “But I don’t know, I’m getting pretty old, so we’ll see if I’m able to stick that out or not.”
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.