Nebraska’s run in the 2017 Big Ten Tournament ended in the early morning hours of Saturday, but the trouble for the Huskers started on Friday. First, there was the loss to Iowa, which sent Nebraska to an elimination game against Maryland. Then there was some trouble on the mound as expected starter Jake Meyers was scratched prior to the game and his replacement, Ethan Frazier, had to leave the game with a shoulder injury after just 27 pitches.
The Terrapins made the most of Nebraska’s uncertainty on the mound, scoring seven runs in the first four innings and holding on for an 8-5 win.
Frazier got into trouble early, issuing a one-out walk and, two batters later, a two-out single, which put runners on first and second for third baseman AJ Lee. The sophomore launched a 2-2 pitch deep to left to give Maryland an early 3-0 lead.
Nebraska answered in the bottom of the first with a lead-off home run from shortstop Angelo Altavilla, a preview of the boom-or-bust night to come for the Husker bats. Nebraska earned walks and applied pressure with runners on base in each of the first three innings, but Maryland starter Tyler Blohm kept working out of his own jams via the strikeout.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year recorded his first six outs via strikeout and had 10 over 4.1 innings.
“Guys were grinding, but the [Blohm]’s got good stuff,” Coach Darin Erstad said on the Husker Sports Network. “We got to 3-2 counts and struck out on a lot of those counts.”
Frazier had to leave the game after recording one out in the second, giving way to Nate Fisher. He retired five of the first six batters he faced, but trouble struck again in the top of the fourth.
Maryland led off the inning with a walk and two singles before left fielder Madison Nickens cleared the bases with a triple. Catcher Justin Morris drove in Nickens with a single, staking the Terrapins to a 7-1 lead and chasing Fisher from the game after 1.2 innings.
The Huskers tried to claw their way back in the middle innings. Second baseman Jake Schleppenbach delivered a solo homer in the fourth and right fielder Mojo Hagge led off the fifth with a walk, Blohm’s final batter of the night, and eventually came around to score on an RBI groundout by Luis Alvarado.
Nebraska plated two in the sixth to cut the lead to 7-5, but Terrapins reliever Jared Price held the Huskers in check the rest of the way, scattering three singles over the final three innings to record the win. Fisher took the loss for Nebraska.
After leaving 14 runners on base in the loss to Iowa, Nebraska stranded nine in the nightcap.
“We just didn’t get the big hit,” Erstad said. “We’ve been pretty good at that and today just wasn’t our day.”
The loss means Nebraska will have to wait to find out its NCAA Tournament fate, but Erstad believes the Huskers’ record should be enough to earn a bid.
“I’ll take these guys against anybody,” Erstad said. “They can fight. I think they’ve definitely done enough to get an at-large bid, but I don’t make those decisions. We’ll see what happens on Monday.”
The tournament selection show is May 29 at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN2.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.