Angelo Altavilla summed up Nebraska’s 6-3 loss to Michigan State on Friday night at Hawks Field about as well as anyone could from a Husker point of view. “It’s all about forgetting,” the sophomore shortstop said, “just coming back tomorrow and flushing everything from today.”
The second and eighth innings were particularly forgettable for the Huskers, who saw a six-game winning streak snapped and dropped from first to third in the scrambled Big Ten race.
Michigan State scored five runs on six hits, including five in a row, against starter Jake Hohensee in the second inning, and Nebraska managed only one run in the eighth, despite loading the bases with no outs. “We left too many guys on base,” said Altavilla.
Mojo Hagge’s single produced the lone run in the eighth.
The Huskers had 10 hits but left 12 runners on base in the game. They “had some guys in scoring position, (but) just didn’t get it done,” Coach Darin Erstad said. “Now they (the Spartans) had some guys in scoring position as well and could’ve had a lot more.”
Nebraska batters also struck out 12 times.
Michigan State, which had 14 hits, stranded 11 runners, including three in a scoreless first.
Hohensee battled, but he “was up in that inning, and they took advantage of it,” Erstad said of the second. “He never could get the ball downhill.”
Also, “he was working behind in the count a lot,” said Erstad. “They got a lot of really good flat swings. They’re dangerous, especially on balls up in the zone, and they put some good swings on them. We knew we had to stay away from the crooked number against these guys.
“That’s when they have a lot of success when they play. And it hurt us tonight.”
The Spartans went into the game with a .289 team batting average.
Erstad had to shuffle his lineup because center fielder and leadoff hitter Jake Meyers was out with stitches in his left hand after being spiked on a slide during Wednesday’s game at Creighton.
“I thought he was fine. He played the rest of the (Creighton) game,” Altavilla said.
Meyers said “it wasn’t painful,” said Erstad. “But to stop the bleeding we had to stitch it up.”
As a result, the coaches didn’t want “to take the chance of him swinging the bat and open it (the wound) back up. So we’ll take it day-by-day,” Erstad said.
Meyers, the Sunday starter, was pitching in the bullpen before Friday night’s game. So would he be able to pitch this Sunday? “For a guy that goes pitch-by-pitch and thinking (only) about the next game,” Erstad said, referring to himself, “we’ll worry about that when we get to that point.”
Freshman Joe Acker replaced Meyers in center field, just his third start of the season.
Derek Burkamper (4-4, 3.78) will pitch for Nebraska on Saturday. “I know he’ll be ready to go,” Altavilla said of the senior right-hander.
Michigan State’s starter will be junior right-hander Jake Lowery (2-2, 2.74).
The Spartans are 27-19 overall and 9-10 in the Big Ten, while Nebraska drops to 30-17-1 and 12-6-1.
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.