Yes, No. 17-ranked TCU completed a three-game, weekend sweep of the Nebraska baseball team with a 5-3 victory at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday.
The Horned Frogs, defending Big 12 champions, are now 6-1.
But let’s look at some positives.
Despite falling behind 5-1 five innings into Sunday’s game, the Huskers battled back with runs in the seventh and eighth innings and had the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth.
Griffin Everitt, with three singles, seemed to have a fourth, but was called out at first after grounding a ball to third. Coach Will Bolt disagreed and was ejected—even though the game was over.
According to the Husker broadcast, replay showed Bolt was right. Everett was safe.
Nevertheless, a potential game-tying rally was over and Nebraska left Arlington, where it will be again next weekend, with a 1-6 record.
We were talking about positives, though.
After sitting out Saturday’s game and entering Sunday’s 1-for-15 at-bat on the season, sophomore Brice Matthews had a double and a solo home run. He also made a Twitter-quality play at shortstop.
Sophomore left-hander Emmett Olson pitched four innings of scoreless relief, allowing only a single, striking out two and walking none. He retired the last nine batters.
For the second game in a row, the defense didn’t commit an error, and Nebraska committed only one error in the first game. In its four-game season-opening series at Sam Houston, Nebraska committed seven errors. And Matthews’ play in the third inning Sunday wasn’t the only notable defensive effort. Centerfielder Cam Chick had another, making a diving catch in the seventh.
“As far as defensively, making some big pitches to get off the field, making some big plays to start innings and just competing for nine innings, we’re a heck of a lot closer than we were two weeks ago,” Coach Will Bolt said during his post-game interview.
The plays by Matthews and Chick were against the first batters of the innings.
With the singles in the ninth, the Huskers finished with 10 hits, Matthews’ the only ones for extra bases. “Again, we’re fighting it still a little bit offensively,” said Bolt.
However, “we put together some better at-bats today,” he said.
As for Olson, who pitched twice in relief in the Sam Houston series, going 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA, “I didn’t think his stuff was particularly sharp,” Bolt said. “I think the ‘compete’ was pretty good, though.
“He made a statement today and we’ve been searching for somebody to go out there and when we score, can give us a shot to get right back in. He kept the momentum in our dugout is what he did, gave a shot to have some quick innings so we could kind of feel that momentum and have a shot there.”
Olson has now walked only one and struck out seven in 8.2 innings of relief.
The Huskers struck out eight times. How is that a positive? It’s a relative total. They struck out a combined 25 times in the first two games of the series. Everitt battled back from a 0-2 count.
Loading the bases in the ninth also reflected Nebraska’s grit.
“That’s what’s to be expected,” said Bolt. “I mean, there’s nothing less that we expect than that. It’s not about what your record is or what your batting average is or how many hits you have that day. It’s just finding a way to just go pitch-to-pitch and just give it your best.
“And that’s more what it needs to look like for this team going forward.”
In the immediate future, going forward means double-headers against Northwestern State and UT Arlington on Friday and Saturday, as mentioned earlier, also in Arlington.
Nebraska is looking for positive results.
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.