Will Walsh was rolling.
The sophomore two-way player came into Tuesday night with just three career appearances on the mound and a total of 2.0 innings pitched, none of that time remarkable. But he was called on in the third inning of Nebraska baseball’s game against Creighton following the struggles of starter Jackson Brockett and reliever Corbin Hawkins, and blew away what he had previously accomplished pitching for the Huskers.
Between his entry in the third inning and the end of the eighth, Walsh retired 17 of the 18 batters he faced. The one to reach did so on an error, an overthrow to first base.
With Nebraska up 5-3 in the ninth inning, he was given the chance to close it out. Creighton finally came up with a response. The Bluejays hit a leadoff single, then followed a sacrifice bunt with an RBI single. Walsh hit Nolan Clifford, ending an otherwise outstanding day poorly.
The Huskers still led by a run as head coach Will Bolt turned to Brett Sears to avoid disaster. Sears had struggled in his 3.1 innings pitched this season, and that continued. Runners advanced on a passed ball, the tying run scored on a sacrifice fly, and Clifford ended the game by scoring on a wild pitch.
Nebraska was impressive of many facets of the contest, from Walsh’s outing to a four-run inning to take the lead. However, none of that mattered as Creighton’s three-run ninth inning secured a 6-5 Bluejays win.
“It’s a silly game sometimes,” Bolt said postgame. “I mean, we did everything right offensively and they had nothing rolling offensively for most of the game.”
Most of the Huskers’ offensive work came in the third inning, where Casey Burnham was hit by a pitch before being sent home by a Brice Matthews RBI single. The frame almost ended as Matthews was caught stealing and Dylan Carey hit a ball to the shortstop, but a fielding error allowed Carey to reach. A Josh Caron and Charlie Fischer single followed, scoring a total of three runs to give Nebraska a 4-3 advantage.
Creighton’s first three runs also came in one inning thanks to a bases-clearing three-run double in the bottom of the second. Corbin Hawkins ended the inning, then was taken out after giving up a pair of hits in the third. A relief pitcher’s duel then ensued, as Walsh and Creighton’s Cade Lommel combined to not give up a single hit through the sixth inning.
Lommel gave up two singles in the seventh inning however, and a third off the next Bluejay pitcher gave Nebraska an insurance run. Meanwhile, Walsh kept going strong for a little longer.
“He’s a two-way guy but just a guy that we haven’t thrown a whole lot,” Bolt said. “He throws the ball over the plate. We knew a day like today, tough day to hit, strikes are going to be at a premium and yeah, I mean we had a position player step up on the mound for us and and give us a great outing.”
As Walsh struggled to start the bottom of the ninth, Bolt said he was limited in his options when making a change. Shay Schanaman was sick. Kyle Perry threw two days ago.
“We felt like Sears was going to throw the ball over the plate and give us a shot,” Bolt said. “But then the two wild pitches obviously is what set up the whole inning … We’re looking for somebody to step up and make some pitches when we need it.”
Nebraska will hope to find that consistency going into its next series as Big Ten play gets underway. The Huskers play a three-game slate at home against Illinois later this week.