Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Baseball Wins Two Games Against Nicholls, Dropping Final Matchup

March 19, 2023

After a relocation and multiple changes to the schedule, Nebraska baseball finally played a three-game series against Nicholls. 

The teams were originally set to play a four-game series in Lincoln, with one game each day from Thursday to Friday. Weather turned that to a two-day, three-game slate in Manhattan, Kansas, with a doubleheader Friday and a third game Sunday. 

The Huskers won both games of the doubleheader with drastically different offensive performances but consistently strong pitching. While they still exited the series with a winning record, they closed the weekend with a 10-7 Sunday loss featuring poor showings on the mound and missed opportunities at the plate.

The first game on Friday went seven innings, and starter Emmett Olson pitched all of them. He held Nicholls scoreless for the first six, allowing two hits in that span. 

However, heading into the bottom of the sixth, Nebraska only held a 1-0 lead. After a three-hit opening inning that brought in a run, the team’s bats went cold. 

“It was good that we scored early,” head coach Will Bolt said on Husker Radio Network postgame. “I thought we set the tone well that way. I thought we were on our way to scoring a bunch, just with the approach that we showed in the first inning.” 

Instead, Tyler Theriot shut down the Huskers for the next four innings, only allowing three more baserunners in that span. Theriot also pitched the entire game, and his last inning didn’t go smoothly. For a second time, Nebraska recorded three straight singles to add a run. 

The lone insurance run soon became crucial as Olson started to struggle in the top of the seventh, hoping to close the game. Nicholls put together its own trio of singles to load the bases with one out, and a sac fly made it a 2-1 game with a pair of runners in scoring position. Olson was trusted to finish the inning, and he did, striking out the final batter.

“He did a fantastic job of finishing, stayed in the moment, made some huge pitches,” Bolt said.

Nebraska’s pitching staff shut down the Colonels to a similar extent in game two, but the offense stole the show. The two runs in the opening game marked a season-low, but the Huskers followed it with a season-high 17 runs.

They went up 4-0 in the third inning, taking advantage of multiple Nicholls errors early, but things only truly got out of hand in the bottom of the fifth. Nico Saltaformaggio, who came into the game having only walked one batter in seven appearances this season, walked the first three Huskers he faced and exited the game.

Nebraska followed that with back-to-back RBI singles to plate three runs, and added four more runs before the frame concluded to go up 11-1. Brice Matthews’ sixth-inning grand slam made it 15-1, and a pair of solo homers from Max Anderson and Efry Cervantes brought about the final total of 17 runs.

Jace Kaminska gave up three hits and one run during his five innings pitched, while Jackson Brockett, Jake Bunz and Will Rizzo combined to not allow a single baserunner through the last four.

Two days later, Nicholls had a much better outing. Nebraska pitcher Michael Garza allowed four consecutive hits to open the game, then threw a wild pitch that allowed two runners to score. He was taken out in the second inning after the Colonels went up 4-1 on an RBI single. The bullpen didn’t fare much better, the next four each giving up at least one run.

Throughout the game, the Husker offense kept within range, but couldn’t do much more. Max Anderson came up with an RBI in the first and third innings to make it a two-run difference, and Brice Matthews’ two-run fifth-inning homer did the same. Matthews and Anderson starred offensively in the final two games of the series, combining for 15 RBI. The former accounted for nine.

The closest Nebraska got after the top of the first on Sunday was the bottom of the seventh inning, where Matthews hit a triple with the bases loaded to bring the score to 8-7.

But like the other Husker surges, the one-run deficit didn’t last for long. Nicholls had hit a two-run home run off of Shay Schanaman in the top of the seventh, and the fifth-year pitcher let in two more runs in the top of the eighth thanks to an RBI single and RBI triple. With one last chance in the bottom of the ninth, Nebraska put two runners in scoring position, but ended the game on a groundout.

Nebraska scored seven runs and had 10 hits, but stranded 13 runners. With the pitching staff giving up 18 hits to Nicholls, not capitalizing on those scoring opportunities helped sink the Huskers.

Matthews and Anderson starred offensively in the final two games of the series, combining for 15 RBI. Matthews accounted for nine.

The Huskers are now 11-6-1, splitting their four games in the past week. They’ll play at Creighton on Tuesday, then start Big Ten play with a three-game series against Illinois in Lincoln.

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Tags: Baseball