Those who braved the wind chill at Hawks Field on Sunday caught a glimpse of what the Nebraska baseball team can be, and “will be,” Jake Meyers said.
The junior left-hander pitched his first complete game as a Husker. And not only that, he shut out Western Carolina to avoid Nebraska’s being swept. The final score was 10-0.
When the Huskers play to their ability, “that’s what it looks like,” said Coach Darin Erstad.
More often than not this season, it hasn’t looked that way.
Nebraska, now 6-8, won a week ago Sunday, after losing the first two games of a three-game series at Frisco, Texas, also by shutout, with Meyers the starter, 1-0 against then-No. 5 Arizona.
Meyers earned the victory, pitching five innings, with Chad Luensmann finishing for the save.
“I don’t like doing that. I don’t like losing,” Meyers said of his being the stopper. “But it’s something that needed to be done, needed to turn the mojo around as a team.
“It was a big team win. We’re going to go from here.”
The Huskers had 12 hits, with everyone in the lineup getting at least one. Scott Schreiber led the way, going 3-for-5 to raise his average to .308 and driving in two runs.
Mojo Hagge, Angelo Altavilla and Jake Schleppenbach also drove in two runs apiece.
Altavilla is tied with Schreiber for the team lead with 11 runs-batted-in.
Nebraska also played “fantastic” defense, according to Erstad. And Meyers agreed.
“I had guys out there like Mojo Hagge picking me up,” he said of the freshman left-fielder who made a diving catch. Schleppenbach, the second baseman, “had some great plays. I mean, everybody made some great plays behind me, and I couldn’t have done it without ‘em.”
Meyers didn’t put himself in difficult situations, allowing only five hits and one walk while striking out four, on a day with a 31-degree wind chill at first pitch, which was delayed an hour because of the cold. The conditions were hardly ideal for a complete-game pitching performance.
But “I’m not going to put anything past that guy. He just keeps doing it,” Erstad said of Meyers. “The pitch count (104) was in a respectable area, not a lot of stress pitches or big jams he had to get out of, so he was doing just fine, and he was moving around the base paths to stay warm.
“So he was in a good flow of the game.”
At bat, Meyers was 1-for-2 with two walks and was hit by a pitch. He scored two runs.
Is he comfortable in his role as Sunday starter? “I think he’ll embrace pretty much any role that gets thrown his way,” said Erstad. “But when we’ve needed him the most, he came through for us. Obviously we don’t want to be in that situation where we’re getting swept on weekends.
“But he has done a great job the last two weekends of taking care of that.”
Two innings into the game, the Huskers had five runs on eight hits.
“We kept the gas on. That was big for us,” Meyers said.
Nebraska doesn’t play again until Friday, the first of a three-game series against College of Charleston at Hawks Field. “This time of year, I don’t want days off,” said Erstad.
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.