Dawson McCarville was dealing Tuesday night on the front end of a two-game midweek series against the New Mexico State Aggies at Haymarket Park in Lincoln.
Nebraska’s 6-foot-3, 215-pound transfer pitcher from Grand Canyon tossed six scoreless innings and a career-high 10 strikeouts against two walks while the Aggies managed just one hit off the right-hander. With McCarville working through the NMSU lineup, the Huskers’ offense got things rolling early and often, grabbing a 3-0 lead after the first inning and a 6-0 edge after two.
The combination of strong pitching and hot hitting led to a 12-6 blowout win over the Aggies, who have two former Huskers on the roster. Their head coach, Mike Kirby, was an assistant coach at Nebraska for five seasons, from 2014-19. One of Kirby’s assistants in Las Cruces is Michael Pritchard, who was a Husker from 2011-14.
What was working for McCarville on the mound? Everything, he said.
“Attacking the zone with fastballs, and I was able to land my change-up-slider for strikes,” he said after the game.
McCarville’s former team, Grand Canyon, is a member of the Western Athletic Conference, home of NMSU. So he has plenty of experience against the Aggie batters, who are usually pretty aggressive at the plate. He kept that in mind Tuesday.
“I came from the same conference as them and faced them last year and had pretty good success,” McCarville said. “I kind of knew, had a plan of what to do. We know that they’re aggressive, they like to swing the bat. They’re a good offense when they swing the bat a lot, so I knew they were going to be almost swinging at every pitch. So I was just trying to change the speeds in the right counts.”
What impressed head coach Will Bolt the most was the finish on McCarville’s sinker.
“It was firm, it was down. All the other pitches kind of looked the same coming out of his hand. The slider was sharp,” Bolt said of McCarville’s pitches. “When the slider gets loopy for him, it doesn’t look the same coming out of the hand as the sinker does. So he had that going tonight, and the change-up—and he needed that change with the left-handed hitters.”
The Huskers’ outhit NMSU 10-4. The hero of Nebraska’s walk-off win Monday against Omaha, Griffin Everitt, delivered a two-run home run to left field in that big second frame. The Lincoln Southwest graduate now has a team-high four homers and 13 RBIs on the season.
Griffin Everitt hits his team-leading fourth home run of the season after hitting a walk-off single yesterday. This homer plates two runs.#Huskers lead New Mexico State 6-0 as we head to the T3. pic.twitter.com/g6wFxeB3eg
— Steve Marik (@Steve_Marik) March 16, 2022
Brice Matthews went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and a double while Max Anderson, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and one double. Josh Caron, a freshman from Wisconsin, had two hits and two RBIs.
“We hadn’t had a lot of early runs like that, and so putting up the crooked numbers early in the game let us settle in,” Bolt said. “I thought McCarville was awesome, on attack all night long. Hitting is contagious. Confidence is a real thing in baseball. Once we got rolling it was good to see us have some good at-bats.”
Anderson made his first collegiate start at first base on Tuesday while Efry Cervantes manned Anderson’s usual spot at third. It wasn’t the first time Anderson has played first in a game—he played it in summer ball at the Cape Cod League and has scrimmaged there at practice—but it was just another way of Bolt tinkering with the lineup in hopes of finding something that works. And it worked against the Aggies.
“We’re trying to find the right combination to play good defense and have our best bats in the lineup,” Bolt said.
Chandler Benson, Jaxon Jelkin, Caleb Feekin, Quinn Mason and Corbin Hawkins all pitched in relief. Four of NMSU’s six runs in the ninth came from one swing, a grand slam in the ninth from Kevin Jimenez off Feekin. The other two runs crossed the plate via bases-loaded walks in a long and drawn-out final half inning.
Nebraska’s offense got off to a strong start in the first by scoring three runs, all of which came with two outs. First, it was Matthews who connected on an RBI single to center. That single extended his hit streak to three games. Later, when the bases were loaded thanks to Everitt reaching on an error, Matthews’ single and Garrett Anglim drawing a walk, Caron hit a two-run single to center to give his team a 3-0 edge.
“Those two-out RBIs were huge there at the beginning of that game,” Bolt said. “Matthews had a two-out RBI, I believe, and then Caron did, Griff with a big home run. I just thought there were good at-bats up and down the lineup.”
After an RBI groundout from Core Jackson in the second, Everitt kept his hot streak alive and put the Huskers on top 6-0 when he smashed a two-run shot over the left-field wall that scored Luke Jessen, who singled.
In the fourth, Anderson doubled in a run and then took home after a wild pitch sent the ball to the backstop, which gave Nebraska an 8-0 lead.
Nebraska improves to 6-9 on the season while NMSU drops to 9-5. The two teams will play the final game of the series Wednesday at 1:35 p.m.