Resilient might describe the Nebraska baseball team about as well as any adjective right now. At least it certainly would following the Huskers’ 9-4 victory at Minnesota on Sunday.
They were coming off a 5-3 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, and in a larger context trying to set aside a 5-2 loss to Creighton and dropping two-of-three at home to Iowa last weekend.
A 5-3 victory against Minnesota on Friday night was a start at erasing the Iowa-Creighton frustration. But then there was the loss to the Gophers on Saturday.
Nebraska doesn’t have much margin for error, figuratively speaking, although it didn’t commit any errors in the three games against Minnesota, a good place to start on the road, Coach Darin Erstad said during his post-game radio show on the IMG Husker network.
Minnesota committed two errors, including one in the ninth inning on Sunday that made the Huskers’ three runs for breathing room all unearned.
“We’re going to have to scratch and claw for everything we get,” Erstad said. “It’s pretty apparent we’re not going to hit one-through-nine on a consistent basis.”
As for the scratching and clawing, “we’ve been doing an OK job of that,” he said.
Leadoff hitter Jake Meyers and eighth-place hitter Jesse Wilkening were the most effective Husker hitters over the weekend, going 6-for-12 and 5-for-12, respectively.
Wilkening drove in four runs, including three on Sunday, the most significant in the fourth inning when his second-career home run with Luke Roskam on base gave Nebraska a 5-0 lead and what proved to be the winning run after the Gophers responded with four runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Sunday’s victory reflected what Erstad would like to see consistently. Eight Husker starters had at least one hit, four had two hits and Wilkening had three. And though Jake Schleppenbach went hitless, the senior second baseman turned in another defensive gem, drawing mention from Erstad.
Roskam, Angelo Altavilla, Scott Schreiber and Luis Alvarado each had two hits on Sunday.
Meyers went 4-for-5, scored two runs and drove in two runs to help get Nebraska off to a good start Friday night then earned the pitching victory, his sixth with one loss, on Sunday, battling through the Gophers’ four-run fourth. He pitched six innings, allowing 10 hits, including two home runs. But he struck out five and didn’t allow a walk.
In fact, Husker pitchers walked only six, three by Derek Burkamper in two innings on Saturday.
Jake Hohensee, Friday’s winning pitcher, walked two and struck out three in seven innings, a performance that got Nebraska off to a good start on the weekend.
Schreiber and Ben Miller singled in runs, with two-strike counts, in the eighth to break a tie at 3.
“You’ve got to get the big hits once in a while, and we did that this weekend,” Erstad said in his post-game radio interview. “And again, that was just a nice, solid baseball game for our boys.”
With the series win, the Huskers remained in the thick of things in the Big Ten race. They’re third with a 7-4-1 conference record, behind Minnesota (8-4) and Maryland (12-3), which swept Michigan State over the weekend. Two of the Terrapin losses were against Nebraska.
Michigan (7-5) is percentage points behind the Huskers.
Nebraska, 23-15-1 overall, is scheduled to play Omaha at Hawks Field on Tuesday night before traveling to Ohio State for its next Big Ten series. The Buckeyes are 4-8 in conference play and 16-24 overall, after dropping two of three to UNC Greensboro.
The Huskers defeated Omaha 3-1 at Werner Park in Papillion in early April, overcoming three errors and scoring a run in the seventh to break a 1-1 tie and adding a run in the ninth.
They showed their resiliency in that game as well.
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.