The Nebraska baseball team scored 10 runs against Creighton in the second inning at Hawks Field on Tuesday night. So thanks for coming and drive safely on the way home, right?
Not exactly, not with seven innings remaining.
“We’re at the mercy of this game,” Coach Darin Erstad said. “You’re on the good side of that sometimes, the bad side (sometimes), and fortunately we were on the good side.”
Not just in the second inning but the rest of the way. The score was 13-1 before Creighton managed to put together a five-run eighth. The final was 14-6, Huskers.
And though the in-state rivalry matters to fans on both sides, Erstad dismissed that aspect of the first of three meetings between the teams this season.
“I couldn’t treat any game more the same,” he said in response to a reporter’s question. “I’m sorry for the boring answer. We respect everybody exactly the same, don’t differentiate in-state, out-of-state, home, away. It just doesn’t matter. We’re going to come and get ready to play, and we’re going to reset and do it again tomorrow. It doesn’t get you anything tomorrow. If anything it gives you more challenges by maybe being overconfident.”
Nebraska plays 6-21 Omaha at Werner Park in Papillion on Wednesday night, with sophomore right-hander Ethan Frazier getting the first start of his collegiate career.
Frazier has made three appearances this season, pitching four scoreless, hitless innings.
“We’re pretty thin,” Erstad said of the bullpen. “It’s something where you try to maximize everybody but minimize their workload so they’re ready for the weekend.”
The Huskers play host to Maryland in a Big Ten series beginning on Friday night. The teams are tied for second in the conference, by percentage, behind Minnesota.
Nebraska’s 19-hit performance Tuesday night – the most since last season’s 15-2 victory at Creighton in mid-May, 22 hits – was complemented by the pitching of senior Ben Miller in particular. Miller, who had pitched only once this season (two innings), was slated to pitch two innings against Creighton. He pitched three, allowing one hit and striking out four, to earn the victory.
He also walked four, including three to load the bases in the third inning, after a double, a walk and a wild pitch left him in a difficult one-out situation the inning before.
The Huskers have “got some guys banged up on the mound,” Erstad said. “We needed every bit of everything he gave us out there.”
Miller “pitched great,” said Erstad, and helped his own cause, hitting a three-run home run in the 10-run second. Had he not hit that pitch, it “might’ve hit him. Bennie’s been doing it for us for four years. It’s just really fun to watch him perform on the field.”
Scott Schreiber also hit a home run, and four Huskers had three hits each: Angelo Altavilla, Luis Alvarado, Luke Roskam and Jesse Wilkening. Schreiber, Altavilla, Roskam and Wilkening all drove in two runs. “You can’t really control where it (the ball) goes as far as a defender making a play, but when you’re using the whole field, you give yourself a fighting chance,” Erstad said.
Seven Creighton pitchers walked only two. “So we had to hit our way on,” said Erstad.
Nebraska is now 16-10-1, while Creighton drops to 8-15.
“This game’s so crazy,” Erstad said. “You just play. We didn’t exactly pound the ball around the place. We used the whole field. We found holes.”
A walk, two hit batters and an error helped things along in the second.
Fans didn’t begin heading to the exits when the inning finally ended with a double play, of course. Much could have happened. But the Huskers remained on the game’s “good side” Tuesday night.