Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Baseball Sweeps South Alabama, Dominating Final Two Games

February 27, 2023

Nebraska baseball swept South Alabama in a three-game weekend series, winning the final two games by a total of 18 runs. 

Bouncing back from an 0-3-1 season-opening series showing, the Huskers showed pitching improvements and kept up some offensive momentum, especially in Saturday’s and Sunday’s games.

Heading into the series, head coach Will Bolt expressed a desire for his team to “set the tone.” That’s what Nebraska did in the opening game, winning 5-4. 

Game one was the most tense of the series and featured the most issues for the Huskers. 

Garrett Anglim brought in the first run of the weekend with a solo home run in the top of the second inning, but that advantage didn’t last long. With two outs in the bottom of that inning, South Alabama loaded the bases against starting pitcher Emmett Olson. Olson walked one batter and hit another, with a throwing error coming in between the two. 

The Jaguars capitalized on that opportunity with a two-RBI single. Their advantage was also short-lived, however. 

Max Anderson, who batted 7-for-12 in the series, got off to a strong start Friday. He ended his first two plate appearances with hits, the second being an RBI single in the third inning to tie it up. Ben Columbus followed by bringing a run in via groundout. 

Columbus brought in two more runs after that without a hit to help the Huskers extend their lead. Nebraska led off the fifth with a walk and single, and Anderson and Columbus followed with back-to-back groundouts. The latter allowed Casey Burnham to score and make it a 4-2 game. 

South Alabama cut it back to a one-run game with a home run, but Columbus struck again — by being struck. Nebraska loaded the bases in the top of the sixth thanks to a walk, hit-by-pitch and Anderson being intentionally walked. Then, Columbus came to the plate and became the second batter the Jaguars hit in the inning.

Nebraska stopped at five runs, a potentially worrying fact given the team’s pitching struggles against San Diego. Olson retired the first batter he faced in the bottom of the sixth, then was replaced by Shay Schanaman after a four-pitch walk. He didn’t start off well, hitting two batters to load the bases and allowing a score thanks to a wild pitch. 

The fifth-year pitcher bounced back after that, ending the inning without relinquishing Nebraska’s lead and not allowing any baserunners in the seventh. He exited in the bottom of the eighth after striking out two batters but walking another pair. Jalen Worthley got Nebraska out of the inning from the mound, and it was then up to Kyle Perry to make his first career save in the ninth.

He hit the first batter he faced, the sixth hit-by-pitch committed by Nebraska’s pitching staff in the game. Perry responded, however, retiring the next three batters to seal it.

The Huskers’ first win of the year wasn’t a pretty one, walking four Jaguars to go along with the hit-by-pitches. It was a win, however.

“It’s why you just stay the course and you just keep showing up and keep competing,” Bolt said on Huskers Radio Network postgame. “We didn’t play a perfect ball game but we were gritty and we were really really tough tonight.”

For a second straight weekend, the Husker offense really showed up in the final two games. The first of those was a 15-3 win. South Alabama also had pitching issues on Friday, and those carried over into Saturday. Nebraska led off the second inning by reaching on a throwing error, and the first run came in on a fielding error. Jaguars starter Gehrig Conrad committed a balk by having the ball slip out and straight up from his hand during a pitch, and loaded the bases with a walk later in the inning. 

This helped the Huskers build a 4-0 lead in the second inning, and the story was the same in the third. South Alabama had scored a run, but Nebraska got back to a four-run advantage with the help of a hit-by-pitch and fielding error. The Jaguars ended the game with five errors, along with giving out three HBPs and four walks.

The Huskers pulled away after going up 5-1, with the next 10 runs including a two-run homer from Will Walsh and a three-run shot by Brice Matthews.

South Alabama was held to three runs against Nebraska’s Jace Kaminska, and relievers Jackson Brockett and JC Gutierrez shut down the Jaguars through the final innings.

Nebraska continued its offensive momentum on Sunday, scoring the first four runs. Josh Caron was a big part of that effort, hitting an RBI single in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third. He finished the game with five RBI, which included a sac fly and a second home run.

Michael Garza was also standout on the mound in the final game, coming in during the bottom of the fourth as South Alabama cut its deficit to 6-3. Caleb Clark had just given up a two-run homer and a walk. Garza not only finished that inning strong, but remained on the mound for the rest of the game, allowing a single hit.

Bolt said that the finale was the best game Nebraska played in the series.

“I like the fact that we got better each game,” Bolt said after Sunday’s win. “I said that after last weekend, I feel like we did it last weekend. That’s what I wanted to see throughout the course of the week. You just can’t let results, good or bad, sway how you work, sway how you showed up.”

The Huskers now hold a .500 record at 3-3-1, with perhaps some much needed momentum going into their next games. Nebraska will travel to Minnesota for the Cambria College Classic this week, where it will take on Hawaii and top-10 teams in Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.

Tags: Baseball