Behind 14 hits, one of which was a two-out, three-run home run from Max Anderson, the Nebraska baseball team picked up a much-needed 12-5 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday night to kick off an important three-game series in Minneapolis.
The Huskers came into the game in a three-way tie for ninth in the Big Ten Conference standings with Indiana and Michigan State. Nebraska would like to leave Minneapolis with a sweep, which would help its cause in trying to qualify for the eight-team conference tournament.
Though the Huskers got the lopsided win, the status of their starting shortstop, Brice Matthews, remains unclear.
According to the Huskers Radio Network, Matthews suffered a knee injury in pregame warmups Friday and did not play. Matthews is hitting .267 at the plate with three home runs and 15 RBIs this season. Following the injury, Matthews tried to give it a go after Husker trainers tried a knee brace, but the Texas native didn’t respond well after trying to go through defensive drills.
Nebraska has had awful luck with injuries this season, especially to its pitchers. Kyle Perry, Ethan Bradford, Jake Bunz and Colby Gomes have missed time on the mound this year. There was a bit of good news on Friday as Gomes returned to the lineup after not batting since early April with a hand injury. He went 1-of-4 with an RBI in his return.
Nebraska batted .350 as a team in the win, and was especially effective with two outs, hitting .357 (5-of-14) in those situations. Garrett Anglim continued to swing a hot bat as he went 4-of-5 with an RBI. Griffin Everitt went 3-of-6 with two RBIs while Leighton Banjoff and Luke Sartori, the Huskers’ eight-hole hitter who played due to Matthews’ injury, each recorded two hits.
Nebraska got 4.2 innings from starting pitcher Shay Schanaman. He struck out four batters and walked two while allowing five runs, four of which were earned, and eight hits. Koty Frank came on in relief and tossed 4.2 innings of scoreless baseball to seal the win and shut down the Gophers’ offense.
Frank, who now won’t be used in Sunday’s game, struck out four batters and gave up just two hits.
After the Gophers saw their lead stretch from 3-2 to 4-2 in the bottom of the third due to a Husker error, Nebraska got its two-out offense rolling. The Huskers retook the lead by scoring four in the fourth, and the biggest moment was Anderson’s three-run longball over the right-field fence that gave his team a 6-4 advantage. Anglim also had a two-out RBI single that cut the Gophers’ lead to 4-3 before Anderson’s jack.
Nebraska took advantage of the shaky pitching from reliever Richie Holetz in the fifth, whose wild pitch plated one run while a passed ball scored another to put the Huskers up 8-4. Minnesota got a solo homer in the fifth, but the Huskers got that run back in the sixth when Banjoff drew a walk, stole second and wound up scoring from a fielder’s choice to put Big Red on top 9-5.
A two-run double from Everitt and a wild pitch that scored Anglim in the ninth were the cherries on top of Nebraska’s final inning.
The two teams are scheduled to play at 6 p.m. on Saturday, though it’d be wise to keep an eye out for updates as there’s rain expected in the area on Sunday, which might prompt a doubleheader on Saturday.