Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Michigan Plates Two Runs in Ninth to Even Series With Huskers

March 26, 2022

The Husker defense has had a problem with errors this season.

In the 10 games from March 5-20, Big Red committed 10 of them. In Friday night’s win over Michigan to open Big Ten play, Nebraska played clean baseball and didn’t make any mistakes.

But on a 50-degree spring Saturday afternoon at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, the error showed its ugly face again, and in a big moment.

With the game tied at 6 in the top of the ninth inning and Braxton Bragg on the mound, a grounder off the bat of Alex Fedie-Johnson got past Max Anderson at third base, allowing Fedie-Johnson to reach first. With two outs and runners on second and third thanks to a soft infield single to short and a walk from reliever Emmett Olson, Jimmy Obertop stepped to the plate with an 0-2 count and delivered a two-run double to the left-field wall that gave the Wolverines an 8-6 lead.

Michigan’s 6-foot-6, 220-pound reliever Chase Allen then sat down the Huskers in order in the bottom half to seal the loss that evens the series at one game apiece. Sunday’s rubber match is slated for an 11:02 a.m. first pitch. The Huskers will start right-hander Dawson McCarville.

“Obviously the error in the ninth inning there,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said of what the difference in the game was. “That’s not the entire game, but Bragg is rolling and he gets weak contact there and kind of sets up a rally for them. They put the ball in play with two strikes on the squibber to the shortstop, guy can run, we’re probably not going to throw him out anyway. When we go 0-2 there, way too good a pitch to a really good hitter.”

It was an entertaining, back-and-forth affair between the two teams that featured yet another rally from the Huskers late in the game. Shay Schanaman started on the mound for the Huskers and was rolling right along until trouble found him in the sixth, and it came in the form of the long ball.

Michigan scored three runs on two hits—a solo home run from Matt Frey and a two-run shot from Tito Flores that gave the Wolverines a 5-2 advantage. Flores’ homer ended Schanaman’s day and brought in Bragg, who got out of the inning without giving up any more damage by forcing a flyout and strikeout.

Schanaman, a righty from Grand Island, went 5 1/3 innings and gave up five earned runs and five hits. He struck out six and walked two.

“Talking to him after the fifth inning, he felt great, he felt strong. I thought it was his quickest inning of the day, was the fifth inning. And then the delivery wasn’t just as sharp there in the sixth inning. Then they go big fly to center field. It was probably one pitch too long. We get Bragg in the game and he did a great job.”

Bragg pitched three innings and only allowed one hit and one earned run while striking out three batters.

“He got ahead and I thought the fastball was good,” Bolt said of Bragg. “I thought he mixed well. He just kind of kept them off balance.”

Michigan’s starting pitcher Cameron Weston did well against the Husker offense. The 6-2, 215-pounder from Pennsylvania held Nebraska to three runs and three hits in six innings of work while striking out six batters.

Nine-hole hitter Luke Sartori got the Husker offense started in the bottom of the third with a two-out single past the third baseman and shortstop. After Sartori advanced to second on a wild pitch, Brice Matthews brought him home with an RBI single to left field that cut the Wolverines’ lead in half at 2-1. Sartori’s head-first slide beat the throw from Flores.

Luke Jessen tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the fourth. After Griffin Everitt walked and a Garrett Anglim groundout moved him to second, Jessen, an Elkhorn South product, hit a two-out stand-up RBI triple over the center fielder’s head. Jessen was later stranded at third following a strikeout from Jack Steil. Jessen went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs.

“It felt good to get a couple hits in there, definitely felt good in the box today but I wish we could have finished it off,” Jessen said after the game.

Looking for an answer to that three-run sixth from Michigan, the Huskers found one right away in the bottom half of the inning. It started with a Cam Chick walk and an Everitt single that put runners on the corners with one out. Anglim then came through for his team with an RBI single to cut the Husker deficit to 5-3. Leighton Banjoff came off the bench to bat with two outs, but grounded out to short with runners on first and third to end the rally.

After Michigan tacked on one more run in the seventh, the Huskers rallied again in the eighth. After Chick reached base on his third walk of the day, Anderson delivered an RBI double to put the Michigan lead at 6-4. Then RBI singles from a couple freshmen, Jessen and Core Jackson, tied the game at 6.

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