Drama? There was none.
Nebraska scored seven runs in the first inning and went from there, winning the Big Ten regular-season championship with a 21-3 victory at Penn State on Saturday.
The Huskers pitched and hit their way to their seventh regular-season conference title, dating to 1929 and the Big Six. Their most recent came in 2005 as a member of the Big 12.
They also won the conference tournament title in 2005, the most recent of four in school history.
Nebraska, 16-7-1 in the Big Ten and 34-18-1 overall, will play Purdue (12-12, 29-15) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at 4 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday in Bloomington, Indiana.
The Huskers and Boilermakers did not play during the regular season.
Nebraska had 18 hits on Saturday, only three of which came in the seven-run first, and starter Jake Meyers retired 18-of-19 batters he faced over six innings to earn the victory.
The junior left-hander’s record is now 8-1.
Ben Miller and Mojo Hagge led the offensive assault, each going 4-for-6 and driving in three runs. Angelo Altavilla and Jake Schleppenbach drove in four runs apiece, Schleppenbach’s coming on an eighth-inning grand slam, his second of the season and his fourth home run, total.
Schleppenbach, a senior who had not hit a home run at Nebraska until this season, has raised his batting average to .280 after struggling at the plate early in the season. He also has 33 runs-batted-in, fourth on the team behind Scott Schreiber (46), Altavilla (37) and Miller (36).
Schreiber also drove in three runs in Saturday’s game.
Schleppenbach’s home run was among six extra-base hits for Nebraska. He also had a double, as did Altavilla, Miller and Hagge. Schreiber hit a triple. The offense was aided by 10 walks, five hit batters, five wild pitches, a passed ball and four errors. The Huskers left 13 runners on base.
Penn State starter Eric Mock lasted only two-thirds of an inning. Though he allowed only one hit, a two-run double by Miller, he walked one, hit three and threw a wild pitch.
Altavilla also had a two-run double in the inning, off Dakota Forsyth, the second of seven pitchers the Nittany Lions used in the game.
As if seven runs in the first weren’t enough, Nebraska added three in the second, on four hits. Catcher Jesse Wilkening was hit by a pitch, for a second time in two at-bats, in the inning.
Penn State’s three runs came off Nate Fisher, the third of three Nebraska pitchers, in the ninth inning, on three hits, including a double, a walk and an error.
Before the team left for Penn State on Wednesday, Coach Darin Erstad said the Huskers were “pretty good at flipping the script and going to the next day and the next pitch.”
And so they were at State College. After squandering a 7-4 lead going into the bottom of the eighth and losing 8-7 on Thursday night, they came back to scratch out a 3-1 victory against the last-place team in the Big Ten on Friday night before overwhelming the Nittany Lions on Saturday.
The 21 runs were Nebraska’s most since March 16, 2012, 21-3 against Louisiana Tech. The Huskers had 19 hits in a 14-6 victory against Creighton at Hawks Field on April 4.
They will attend the Pirates-Phillies game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Sunday before busing to Columbus, Ohio, and then onto Bloomington – as Big Ten champs.
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.