The midweek contests between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Omaha Mavericks this season have featured close, competitive games. There’s even been a little extra emotion, too, which never hurts when two teams that reside under 50 miles from each other meet on the diamond.
The first three outings between the Huskers and Mavs were decided by one run. The first two ended with walk-offs for the home teams. The last game, a 6-5 Mav win in Omaha, ended with the dugouts clearing after catcher Eduardo Rosario had words for Husker batter Colby Gomes and his teammates after Gomes struck out with the bases loaded to seal the win for Omaha.
Omaha beats Nebraska 6-5. Some words at the end from Mavs’ catcher Eduardo Rosario to Colby Gomes. New rivalry brewing on the diamond. pic.twitter.com/oHFPwITUpP
— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) April 7, 2022
Haymarket Park on Wednesday night in Lincoln was the setting for the fourth and final contest between the two, and it didn’t go like the first three.
Thanks to a massive six-run third inning that turned a 3-2 lead into a 9-2 advantage, Nebraska picked up a lopsided 14-3 win in seven innings over the Mavs, pushing its win streak to three games before Iowa comes to town for a three-game set beginning Friday night. Before the game, the two head coaches agreed to play with a run rule that would end the game if one team was ahead by 10 runs by the seventh inning.
Omaha’s pitching staff simply didn’t have it Wednesday night. The Mavs used six arms, and they combined to throw eight walks and hit four batters.
Nebraska’s offense got things rolling early, scoring three runs in the first inning, six in the third, two in the fourth and three in the sixth. The Huskers outhit Omaha 10-6 and were led at the plate by Max Anderson, who went 3-of-5 and hit a two-run home run in the first, his second longball in as many days as he smashed one out of the park in Tuesday night’s win over Kansas State. Garrett Anglim led the team with three RBIs.
Anderson, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, has had a hot bat lately. In his last five games, the Millard West grad is 11-of-24 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
Dawson McCarville gave the Huskers six solid innings on the mound. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-handed transfer from Grand Canyon struck out three and walked one while allowing three earned runs and six hits. Corbin Hawkins came in for the seventh and struck out two while forcing a flyout to end the game.
McCarville—who lost weight due to battling a sickness last week—going six innings protected the bullpen for this weekend’s Iowa series. The Huskers will want to have as many available arms for it as possible.
“The last few times he’s taken the ball he’s been more 86, 87 (miles per hour) in the first inning and kind of feeling for it,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said. “Tonight, you saw the 92 on the board, and just the fastball attack was better. Even though he gave up a couple runs early, I thought there was some 50-50 plays on defense that we probably could’ve made.
“He was on attack tonight—I liked the demeanor, I liked the delivery tonight. He did a nice job kind of limiting damage early in that game, and as we extended the lead he was even better.”
The fastball command was working for McCarville, he said after the game. When he trusts his stuff on the mound, good things happen behind him.
“When I let my defense make plays, I can pitch farther into ball games, less walks,” McCarville said.
The Husker offense all but put the game away in the third when it scored a whopping six runs on five hits.
After two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out, Anderson scored on a wild pitch to put the Huskers up 4-2. An RBI single from Core Jackson and an RBI groundout from Josh Caron had the Nebraska advantage balloon to 6-2. The avalanche of runs continued for the Huskers as another run scored off an error and a two-out, two-run single from Anglim brought Big Red’s lead to 9-2.
“We were on the right side of being the aggressors for the third day in a row,” Bolt said. “It’s a good feeling and the guys are starting to kind of feed off each other that way and up and down the lineup with good at-bats.”
Things got worse for Omaha in the sixth. Mavs’ reliever Jarrett Blunt loaded the bases by hitting two batters and walking another with two outs. Needing just one out to end the inning, reliever Cooper Prososki was brought into the game, but he walked three straight batters to give the Huskers a 14-3 lead.
As a team, Nebraska batted .357 and stole three bases. Bolt sees the aggression paying off.
“It’s more aggression, more compete. We’re on our toes, we’re back to stealing bases and we’re just more ready to hit. We’re taking our walks, we’re winning our 3-2 counts,” Bolt said. “You name it, when you’re on the right side of it offensively, you’re doing all those things. That’s what we’ve been, and it’s funny—you be more aggressive, you take more aggressive swings, you get the extra-base hits. You also get more walks and hit-by-pitches as a result because the pitcher feels like he has to be more fine.”
Cam Chick was plunked yet again in the game. The 5-9, 175-pound senior from Missouri has been hit by a pitch eight times in the last six games. When asked if he’s ever been around a batter who’s been hit as frequently in a short period of time as Chick has, Bolt had an answer.
“Daniel Bruce is the only one I can think of,” Bolt said with a smile.
Bruce played at Nebraska from 2002-2005 and was a teammate of Bolt’s during his playing days in Lincoln. Bruce was hit by a pitch 67 times in his career and was hit 28 times in 2002, which broke NU’s single-season record for hit-by-pitches. Chick is currently at 14 on the season.