Nebraska baseball fought back against Omaha on Tuesday night, forcing extra innings at Haymarket Park after going down 5-0 in another shaky midweek performance from the team’s pitchers.
However, the rally wasn’t enough, as the Mavericks added the eventual winning run in the 10th inning and the Huskers didn’t put a runner on base in their last chance. The game marked Nebraska’s second loss to Omaha, an ugly fact considering the opponent sat at No. 241 in RPI coming into the night.
“We rallied there at the end, you had a chance to go win the game,” head coach Will Bolt said postgame. “We didn’t finish because I felt like we couldn’t flip the switch on when winning time came around. I thought our bullpen did enough to give us a hold there, give us a chance to score some runs like we’re capable of doing but just a really disappointing game all the way around.”
The Huskers are now 4-3 in midweek matchups, all three losses coming to in-state opponents. Creighton handed down the other loss. Bolt gave credit to Omaha and head coach Evan Porter, but dismissed idea that the opponent was the reason for these struggles.
“In-state, out-of-state, it doesn’t matter to me,” Bolt said. “I mean it has nothing to do with the opponent, it has everything to do with mindset with your own team, and I couldn’t be more disappointed with the mindset of our position player group in particular tonight. I shouldn’t just say that, I’d just say our team as a whole.”
Bolt said that the team’s approach at the plate was “atrocious” throughout the game and that they were a step slow defensively. Those types of things showed early as Omaha built up a 5-0 advantage.
In the opening frame of the contest, Husker starting pitcher Caleb Clark walked Mike Boeve then allowed Noah Greise to hit a ball into shallow right field. Charlie Fischer was the defender not there in time on this occasion, diving for the catch but missing. The ball made its way past him, allowing Griese to record an RBI triple as Boeve scored.
The next run scored on a sacrifice fly, set up by a Brice Matthews throwing error with one out that allowed a runner to advance to third base. While Clark wasn’t all that great early, the fielders didn’t provide much help to the freshman pitcher who has been struggling this season.
Clark did make his own missteps in the third inning however, allowing a two-run homer from Boeve that was the second of three straight hits given up. His time on the mound ended there.
Omaha took a 4-0 lead through three innings, as the Nebraska offense put runners on base in each of the first four innings without scoring. Matthews led off the bottom of the first with a single before being caught stealing between a pair of Husker strikeouts. The team put two runners on in both the third and fourth inning, but nothing came of it.
After the Mavericks added a fifth run in the top of the fifth inning, things did shift. Nebraska had more success against pitcher Luke Gainer than Charlie Bell, and a Casey Burnham RBI double to left field started a comeback.
The Husker pitching picked up after the fifth inning too. Drew Christo only threw six pitches, as that’s all he needed to get through the sixth inning. Shay Schanaman took over for the rest of the game, successfully getting through the ninth inning without giving up a run. He got close in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with two outs but escaping safely.
That strong bullpen performance allowed for Nebraska’s crawl back into the game. Gabe Swansen hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 5-3. Garrett Anglim blasted a solo shot in the eighth to bring the difference within one. No home runs were launched in the ninth, but after Max Anderson was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out, Charlie Fischer beat out a potential game-ending double-play throw at first to secure the tying run. Josh Caron struck out after that, sending the contest to extra innings.
Unfortunately for the Huskers, the cracks Schanaman showed in the ninth inning worsened in the 10th. He walked the first batter, then with one out, allowed a pair of singles that infielders couldn’t corral well enough to get the out. That sequence loaded the bases, and another sacrifice fly put Omaha back on top.
The bottom of the 10th was not nearly as dramatic as the inning that preceded it in a similar situation, as the first two Huskers struck out and a routine flyout ended another poor midweek loss.
Nebraska didn’t take care of business, and it’ll look to correct that this weekend when Northwestern comes to Lincoln for a three-game series. The 5-22 Wildcats have been as good as their overall record suggests, although they’ve started 3-3 in Big Ten play. That weekend slate will begin Friday night.