Friday night’s season-opener didn’t go as planned for the Nebraska baseball team with an 8-5 loss to the Sam Houston Bearkats. But Saturday presented a new day and opportunity to get on track with a doubleheader, the first of which was seven innings while the back half was a normal nine-inning affair.
The Huskers had to wait until Saturday night to earn their first victory of the season, however, as they dropped the first game 5-1 but fought back to win the second game 12-9. Big Red will get a chance to leave Huntsville, Texas, with a 2-2 split in the four-game season-opening series when they play the finale Sunday at 1 p.m.
Game One: Sam Houston 5, Nebraska 1
Things got off to a good start for the Huskers as Luke Sartori gave his team a 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to an RBI single to center. Sartori has played well to start the season—he went 2-for-4 with an RBI in Friday night’s game.
But like the loss the night before, Nebraska saw a lead disappear and never recovered from a key error..
It was a rough bottom of the third for the Huskers, who gave up three hits and two walks in the half inning. An error at second by freshman Core Jackson didn’t help matters either.
After a bunt single, Jackson couldn’t corral a hit from Anthony MacKenzie, which led to Sam Houston having runners on third and first with no outs. Clayton Chadwick then stepped to the plate and delivered an RBI double. The rest of the half inning for the Bearkats included two walks, an RBI single and a sacrifice fly to take a 4-1 edge.
Shay Schanaman started on the mound for the Huskers, lasting four innings while striking out four with two walks. The righty from Grand Island, Neb., gave up four earned runs and six hits.
Schanamann gave up a lead-off triple in the top of the fifth that ended his day, but relief pitcher Ethan Bradford helped calm things with back-to-back strikeouts. Sam Houston, however, took a 5-1 lead after tacking on one more run off Bradford with an RBI single from Easton Loyd, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI in Friday’s game. Bradford, a lefty from Lawrence, Kan., pitched two innings and struck out two while allowing two hits.
Nebraska’s offense never got on track as it struck out eight times and only walked once. Luke Jessen, a freshman from Elkhorn South, went 2-for-3 at the plate. Sam Houston sophomore Coltin Atkinson had his way with the Huskers for the most part, striking out seven while not giving up an earned run.
Game Two: Nebraska 12, Sam Houston 9
For the third straight game the Husker offense got rolling and took an early lead, but unlike the first two, the Big Red held on to it for a win, though there were some tense moments late in the game.
Nebraska, which out-hit Sam Houston 13-10, scored four runs in the first and five more in the second. It led 11-3 until the eighth inning, when the Bearkats started making some noise late in the game with a four-run eighth and two-run ninth.
In the first, Max Anderson, Colby Gomes and Griffin Everitt each had an RBI while Everitt scored from third off an error. In the second, Sam Houston’s pitching couldn’t find the zone and Nebraska loaded the bases early. Gomes drew a bases-loaded walk at the plate while Brice Matthews chipped in with a two-run double. Both Matthews and Gomes later scored on a Bearkat error.
Jessen, Everitt and lead-off man Leighton Banjoff all tied for the team lead in hits with two while Banjoff, Gomes, Everitt and Matthews all had two RBIs.
Grand Canyon transfer pitcher Dawson McCarville started the game and went four innings. He struck out three batters against just one walk and only allowed one earned run. The Huskers used five relief pitchers in the game, including Mason Ornelas, CJ Hood, Jake Bunz, Drew Christo and Gomes.
Ornelas, a transfer from Texas A&M, was solid in his first Husker outing. He pitched three innings and struck out four batters with two walks while allowing two earned runs. Bunz lasted just four pitches before an apparent arm injury sent him out of the game. Bunz battled back from Tommy John surgery in 2019 and played a key role on last year’s team.
Hood and Christo are two in-state products who saw their Husker debuts. Hood, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound freshman from Norris High School, threw one inning and struck out one batter while giving up one hit. Christo, a 6-4, 230-pounder from Elkhorn, hit a batter and gave up a two-run homer to Trent Touchet in the ninth that cut Nebraska’s lead to 12-9.
Gomes came in and forced a fly out and ground out to seal his team’s first win of the season.