The game-time temperature between Nebraska and Ohio State on Friday night was at 39 degrees, but Shay Schanaman didn’t seem to mind.
The right-hander from Grand Island, Nebraska, lasted 6 1/3 innings and struck out eight batters while leading the Huskers to a 5-3 win in game one of a three-game series in chilly and breezy Columbus, Ohio. The victory snaps a three-game losing streak for Big Red, which plays the Buckeyes in game two at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday—Koty Frank will get the start on the mound for the Huskers.
Schanaman was sharp Friday night, allowing just one run and six hits while walking three. But he wasn’t the only Husker pitcher that stymied the Buckeye batters. Relievers Emmett Olson and Braxton Bragg did, too.
Olson came in and calmed the choppy waters after things got hairy late in the game. He tossed 2 1/3 innings, striking out three while allowing three hits and two runs. Bragg faced just one batter, but it was a big moment in the ninth against Ohio State’s Zach Dezenzo, who came into the game with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. The Buckeyes were trailing 5-3 with two outs and had a runner on first, but Bragg was able to force Dezenzo into a grounder back to the mound for the easy third out and game-sealing play.
While Husker pitching did its part, Nebraska’s bats continued to struggle in key moments and were gifted three extra runs thanks to a whopping six errors from Ohio State’s defense. The Huskers left nine batters on base and were just 2-of-16 at the plate with runners in scoring position. They were also outhit 9-8.
The trend of not producing in golden opportunities continued for at least one more game. In Nebraska’s loss at Creighton last Tuesday, the Huskers were 2-of-15 with runners in scoring position.
The Husker batters had trouble getting the barrel on Ohio State right-hander Isaiah Coupet and his off-speed breaking balls. By the third inning, Coupet had eight strikeouts, but the defense behind him wasn’t sharp. The Buckeyes committed three errors in 3 1/3 innings. Coupet ended his day with 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Cam Chick got Nebraska on the scoreboard in the first inning with a solo home run over the right-center wall. Then in the second, with runners on first and third with no outs, both Brice Matthews and Chick struck out. Ohio State’s defense helped the Huskers out, however, as Max Anderson reached on an error at third that allowed a run to score to give Big Red a 2-0 edge.
Nebraska loaded the bases again with no outs in the ninth. This time, the offense came through to give its pitching staff added run support. Garrett Anglim picked up an RBI with a grounder after Ohio State recorded its final error of the game with a botched double play that allowed Chick and Anderson to score.
Held in check for most of the game, the Ohio State bats started to get to Schanaman in the seventh.
First, it was a solo shot to right-center from Blayne Robinson in the seventh that cut the Husker lead in half, 2-1. Shortly after that, Mitchell Okuley singled and was later caught between first and second on a pickoff attempt, but a throwing error from Griffin Everitt sent the ball into right field and Okuley to third.
Olson came on in the sticky situation—runners on first and third with one out—but did his job and held the Buckeyes to just one run in the seventh. Olson forced a popup in foul territory along the third-base line and struck out Dezenzo, Ohio State’s two-hole hitter.
Olson started to run out of gas in the ninth as the Buckeyes scored two runs on three hits. But Bragg was able to get the final out with the tying run at the plate.
Nebraska improves its record to 10-14 overall with a 2-2 mark in Big Ten play. Ohio State drops to 8-14, 0-2.