Nebraska baseball swept a two-game midweek series against Northern Colorado, comfortably beating the Bears on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Both games ended by the middle of the seventh inning thanks to a 10-run rule agreed to by the teams. In less-than-ideal conditions for the first home games of the year, Nebraska’s offense had little trouble against a Northern Colorado pitching staff that had given up at least 30 runs in a game multiple times this season. The Huskers won the first game 12-1 and the second 14-3.
“I thought we played our game,” head coach Will Bolt said postgame Tuesday. “I thought it was a pretty businesslike performance.”
Nebraska got ahead early in the first game with a four-run first inning. It had five hits in that frame, including three doubles. The Huskers added one more run in the second inning from an RBI double, then started sending balls over the fence.
They scored seven runs between the third and fourth innings, six coming from home runs. Gabe Swansen led off the bottom of the third with a solo homer, and the lead was extended to 7-0 later in that inning when Brice Matthews stealing second allowed Casey Burnham to steal home.
A five-run fourth inning featured a three-run home run from Charlie Fischer and a two-run shot by Will Walsh. Nebraska didn’t add onto its 12-0 lead after that, but it didn’t need to.
Jackson Brockett got the start on the mound for the Huskers on Tuesday, and pitched four scoreless innings. He faced 14 batters, allowing two hits and striking out five. Northern Colorado did put one run on the board against pitcher Austin Berggren, but that wasn’t enough to keep the contest going past the seventh inning.
The pitching wasn’t nearly as smooth for Nebraska early in game two. Sophomore right-hander Drew Christo only lasted 1.2 innings in his first start of the season. Northern Colorado loaded the bases with two outs in the opening frame, hitting a single then drawing a walk and hit-by-pitch. Christo got out of that jam, but allowed back-to-back one-out singles in the top of the second. The Bears scored the first two runs of the game on a wild pitch and sacrifice fly, and Christo was pulled after walking the next batter on four pitches.
Bolt said he played the sophomore in hopes that he could pick up some momentum, but that didn’t come to fruition.
“He threw like 30-something pitches in the first inning and got out of it,” Bolt said. “It’s taxing, I mean, you just got to try to be more efficient. I thought he landed his breaking ball quite a bit. Fastball was pretty good. But you know, just too many baserunners in there.”
Caleb Clark came in after that and got the Huskers out of the inning without any further damage, and the offense quickly erased the deficit through the long ball. Swansen’s second home run of the series was a 442-foot two-run shot to center field to tie the game in the bottom of the second inning, and Cole Evans hit his own two-run homer shortly after.
As Clark and Mason Ornelas continued to shut down the Bears, Nebraska continued to build its lead and finally reached the double-digit run-rule threshold with a six-run sixth inning. Brice Matthews followed up a Luke Sartori single with a homer, and Griffin Everitt added three more runs by sending a ball down the right-field line and over the wall.
Northern Colorado once again added a late score — a seventh-inning home run that was only called as such after a review — but Nebraska ended with a 14-3 victory.
The Huskers came into the series with 16 home runs on the year, and added eight more between the two games. Evans hit two on Wednesday after entering the day with one hit this season.
“Just staying with my approach,” Evans said in regards to what went well for him in the game. “Being aggressive, I had good pitches to hit in the zone and staying ready to hit.”
Northern Colorado, led by former Husker coach Mike Anderson, has now lost its last 10 games, allowing double-digit runs in seven of them. Nebraska was helped by an array of errors from the Bears. They deployed 10 pitchers in the series, and they combined to issue seven walks, five hit-by-pitches and seven wild pitches. That last number doesn’t account for multiple other pitches that were far off target but came without runners on base, therefore without much consequence.
Nebraska once again won’t have to wait long for its next series, as it’ll play the first of three home games against Illinois State at 4:05 p.m. on Friday.