Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Loses on Walkoff Home Run in Extra-Innings, Lightning-Delayed Thriller Against Maryland

May 26, 2023

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Shay Schanaman rushed toward the Nebraska dugout with the hope of avoiding what happened next.

Having pitched 2.2 spotless innings already, he beat out two other Huskers in chasing a foul ball. If he could catch it, he’d ensure the extension of a game that had already undergone a lightning delay of over 90 minutes, multiple lengthy reviews and other stoppages. Schanaman collided with the dugout railing, stretching half his body over it in hopes of making the catch. He didn’t and he walked back to the mound needing to throw at least one more pitch to Nick Lorusso.

Lorusso was 1-for-4 at the plate heading into the at-bat, but his .376 batting average and 21 home runs on the season still made him a significant threat. His Terrapin teammates believed in him, too.

“I was talking to somebody in the dugout, like ‘If he gets an elevated slider, this game’s over,'” Maryland pitcher Dave Falco said postgame.

Lorusso fulfilled that claim on the next pitch from Schanaman. He smacked the ball just over the left field wall, securing a 2-1 extra-innings win for Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament and sending Nebraska to an elimination game Friday.

“That was kind of an unexpected finish to that game,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said. “[Schanaman] was rolling pretty good. They weren’t taking a lot of good swings off of him. And it was a battle right there. You know, a couple of foul balls that were nearly caught and yeah, tip your cap there and what a swing in that situation.”

As the score suggests, it was an intense game throughout, as two of the Big Ten’s top offenses found themselves in a low-scoring affair. Nebraska tied a season-low with four hits, none of which contributed to the team’s lone run. Two games into the conference tourney, Maryland’s hit 120 homers this year, but Lorusso’s blast was the team’s first of the conference tourney across its two games so far.

Despite the lack of offense, both teams threatened to score early. A single and error put two on for the Huskers with one out in the first inning, while Maryland loaded the bases with two outs against starting pitcher Jace Kaminska. Neither side could bring in a run. Nebraska got on the board in the second inning however, to the delight of a strong Husker-supporting crowd in Omaha.

A walk and hit-by-pitch with no outs in the top of the second was followed by a sacrifice bunt by Dylan Carey and an RBI groundout from Cole Evans. Things improved on the pitching side as well for the Huskers, as after a 30-pitch opening inning by Kaminska, he was more efficient in retiring nine of 11 batters up through the fourth inning.

Carey had Nebraska’s second hit of the day in the fifth inning, but the next three batters were sat down. In the bottom frame, a leadoff double helped set up a game-tying RBI single from Matt Shaw two batters later. The Terrapins loaded the bases with one out in that inning as well, with the help of Lorusso’s first hit of the night, but Kaminska got out of it.

Maryland switched from starter Nick Dean on the mound in the seventh inning after he issued a one-out hit-by-pitch to Carey. Nigel Belgrave threw the next pitch, a ball, before the game was delayed for an hour-and-a-half due to lightning. When the teams finally resumed around 10 p.m., Belgrave exited in favor of Falco. The right-hander was responsible for stopping Nebraska up through the ninth inning, even as his fielders couldn’t convert a couple potential double plays that were reviewed.

Down the stretch, Brice Matthews brought the most notable offensive happening in the ninth. Not only did he single to advance Cole Evans to third with two outs, he followed it up by stealing his 20th base of the season. That made him the first player in program history to come up with 20 homers and 20 steals in a year. The accomplishment may have already been overshadowed by the importance of the scenario, but Casey Burnham struck out to further bury it.

Kaminska also didn’t return to the mound after the weather delay, although that was already a decent possibility heading into the seventh. Corbin Hawkins was the first out of the bullpen, sitting down the Terrapins in order in the seventh before allowing a single to start the eighth. That prompted the move to Schanaman, which Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn was not fond of.

“Schanaman, I’m so ready for that guy to be out of college because he eats our lunch every time we face him,” he said.

Before starting his appearance, Schanaman requested some maintenance to the mound, but shut the Terrapins down through the ninth inning after that. Still, Nebraska’s offense just couldn’t get going. Gabe Swansen drew a one-out walk in the 10th inning, but Charlie Fischer was struck out as umpires ruled he leaned into a hit-by-pitch. A groundout finalized what would be the Huskers’ only extra-inning chance, and Lorusso’s homer sealed the game.

If Nebraska had won, it’d have the day off Friday before needing to win once in two tries Saturday to advance to the conference championship. Instead, Maryland got that honor. Now, the Huskers will play an elimination game Friday night. If they win that, they’ll once again meet the Terrapins, needing to win twice on Saturday to advance to the conference championship game.

Postgame, the team kept its focus on Friday night.

“We got to do everything we can to win tomorrow, and that’s really the only thing,” Bolt said. “That’s what I told the team, can’t be looking at what’s in front of you, you just you gotta go win one game.”

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Tags: Baseball