Darin Erstad coined a word to describe what happened to his Nebraska baseball team on Saturday. The word was “mentalitied,” pronounced as if “teed” were added to mentality.
Don’t look in a dictionary to check the spelling. You won’t find it.
“The team we’re playing has a lot of mentality, and I can’t say that really sits good with me when you get out-mentalitied on your field,” he said following Maryland’s 8-5 victory at Hawks Field.
After looking sharp in a 3-1 victory against the Terrapins on Friday night, Nebraska looked less than that Saturday afternoon. The Huskers committed three errors, their pitchers walked five – the same as Maryland’s pitchers – and they left 10 runners on base.
“You can’t give quality teams extra bases, free passes,” said Erstad. “You do that against anybody, you’re going to battle to win games. And when you do that with quality opponents, you’re going to lose. That being said, we still had some opportunities and we didn’t get it done.”
More specifically to Erstad’s point, six of Maryland’s runs came with two outs. “I thought we were sluggish during the game, and it’s not a good recipe for success,” he said.
Certainly not against a top-25 Maryland team (depending on the poll) with which Nebraska was tied for second in the Big Ten going into the weekend.
Consider the Terrapins’ two-run fourth inning. Will Watson was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Derek Burkamper’s errant pickoff attempt. Nick Cieri walked, and Matt Waldron replaced Burkamper. AJ Lee walked to load the bases, but a failed squeeze bunt resulted in Nebraska catcher Brady Childs tagging out Watson. Then Waldron struck out Patrick Hisle.
It appeared the Huskers might get out of the inning. But on an 0-1 count, pinch-hitter Dan Maynard singled to left, driving in two runs, allowing Maryland to retake the lead, at 4-3.
Nebraska’s three runs had come in the second inning. The Huskers had an opportunity for more, however, with the bases loaded and only one out. A pair of strikeouts ended the inning.
In the third inning, Nebraska had runners at second and third with one out and couldn’t score.
“Then we had no answer for the guy throwing sliders up there in the middle of the game,” Erstad said, referring to Maryland reliever Ryan Hill, who struck out five in 4.2 innings.
Ben Miller was among the bright spots for the Huskers, going 4-for-4 to raise his average to .252. No one else had more than one hit for Nebraska, which drops to 18-11-1 and 3-1-1 in the Big Ten.
Maryland is 20-9 and 6-2.
Erstad took responsibility for the loss, too.
“That’s my job, to have them here every day. And I didn’t like the way I did my job today because it wasn’t what we’re all about,” he said. “Tomorrow’s an identity-building day.”
The series-decider is scheduled for a 12:05 p.m. start, an hour earlier than on the schedule, with left-handers Jake Meyers (4-1, 1.96) and Tyler Blohm (5-2, 2.38) the starters.
Erstad is expecting his team to be ready to play, and not to be out-mentalitied.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.