Take your pick for Nebraska baseball news.
The Huskers defeated Northwestern at Haymarket Park for the second day in a row on Saturday afternoon, winning 11-5, after a 12-2 victory Friday night.
Or, Sunday’s series-ending game has been cancelled for “health and safety” considerations.
The words were Will Bolt’s, post-game on Saturday, and were repeated in the official release, which came an hour or so later: “The decision to cancel was mutually agreed upon out of an abundance of caution surrounding the health and safety of the participants.”
More specifically, Northwestern’s pitching staff. The Wildcats used two pitchers Friday night and four on Saturday, totaling the number who made the trip from Evanston to Lincoln—six.
How did that happen? The Wildcats had missed their previous seven games because of COVID protocol, so Coach Spencer Allen had to leave some pitchers in Evanston.
The more interesting news, of course, was Nebraska’s two victories, which enabled the 25-11 Huskers to move back into first in the Big Ten, after an Indiana loss to Michigan Friday.
The Hoosiers won on Saturday, keeping the race tight.
Friday’s 12-2 Nebraska victory didn’t have the drama of Saturday’s, even though the six-run differential at the end might appear to indicate a similar scenario.
But Cade Povich pitched seven two-hit, scoreless innings in the series opener, with the offense providing three-run innings in the fifth and sixth to make the score 7-0 when Povich finished with a one-two-three top of the seventh.
The Huskers added five runs in the bottom of the seventh, the big hit a two-run home run by Griffin Everitt, who finished the game 3-for-4 with three runs scored and four runs-batted-in.
Nebraska had 16 hits. Brice Matthews and Max Anderson also had three hits each.
The Huskers had 16 hits again on Saturday, but 12 came in their last four times at-bat, included among them a two-run home run by Spencer Schwellenbach and a solo shot by Luke Roskam.
Northwestern had taken a 3-0 lead after three against starter Chance Hroch, who “wasn’t sharp at all,” according to Bolt, but who battled his way through 4.1 innings by keeping the ball low.
One of the runs Hroch allowed was unearned.
Bolt called his players together in the third inning, not raising his voice just reminding them they “weren’t playing the scoreboard,” that they just needed to be “committed” to what they did.
He felt “we were just kind of hoping that maybe they (Wildcats) were just going to make a mistake or something, walk us and hit us. We had to swing our way back into it,” he said. “That was our message, and the backside of that game, we just responded with that.”
Nebraska trailed 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh. Twelve Huskers batted, parlaying four hits, two walks, two hit batters, an error and two wild pitch into six runs. Northwestern’s fourth—and last—pitcher in the game got the final out, then gave up three more runs in the eighth.
Going in, knowing the Wildcats’ situation, Bolt told his team “you never know when the games might end for, you never know when you might not have an opportunity to play,” he said.
“So maybe they’re getting short on players, short on pitching, and so you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do today and figure out what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
With tomorrow being Sunday, what was scheduled to happen wouldn’t. Northwestern had headed home, and the Huskers would start preparing for a four-game pod in Bloomington, Indiana, two games against Indiana and two games against Ohio State.
Sunday’s weather forecast came with a 90-percent chance of rain. So maybe the game wouldn’t have been played, anyway.