A rivalry renewed.
For the first time since April 2019, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Creighton Bluejays tangled on a baseball diamond Tuesday night at a gusty Charles Schwab Field in Omaha. Lately, it’s been the Bluejays who have controlled the series, winning the previous two contests and six of the last eight.
The trend continued.
In a low-scoring affair, the Bluejays were the ones who picked up a 3-2 win to improve to 12-7. And like they have for much of the season, the Huskers struggled to hit with runners in scoring position. On Tuesday, Big Red went 2-of-15 in that department and left eight runners on base.
“You’re in position to win, you’ve done what you need to do to be in position to win the game, and we just didn’t do it,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said after the game. “There’s really not a whole lot of other buttons to press at that point. You’re first and third, nobody out with the middle of your order coming up, you can’t really draw it up a whole lot better than that.”
Here’s a quick glimpse at the situations the Huskers didn’t cash in on in the loss:
First inning: Brice Matthews reached on an error, then stole second base. Matthews was moved to third after a groundout to short, but Griffin Everitt struck out to end the inning.
Second: After not scoring a baserunner who was in scoring position in the first, the Huskers were in the same spot in the second when Garrett Anglim hit a leadoff double. But this time, Big Red converted the opportunity when Core Jackson connected on a two-out RBI single to center to give his team a 1-0 edge early.
Third: Nebraska loaded the bases thanks to a two-out walk from Everitt and had its hottest hitter come to the plate in Anglim, but the redshirt freshman from Papillion-La Vista grounded out to end the half inning and keep Creighton’s lead at 2-1.
Fourth: Jack Steil hit a stand-up double to the left-field wall, but the Huskers couldn’t plate him as Jackson flied out to left and Tyler Palmer, a freshman from Columbus Scotus, struck out.
Seventh: The Husker offense got something going in the seventh when Steil reached on a throwing error and Jackson hit a single to put runners on first and third with no outs. Gabe Swansen, a freshman from Iowa, grounded into a double play, but it was enough to get Steil home and cut the Bluejays’ lead to 3-2.
The eighth and ninth innings weren’t kind to the Huskers.
In the eighth, opportunity presented itself again when Cam Chick hit a leadoff stand-up double and Max Anderson was plunked to put runners on first and third with no outs. At that time in the game, the Huskers were 2-of-12 with runners in scoring position.
Everitt and Anglim both wound up striking out. Then Luke Jessen stepped to the plate and hit a grounder to first on what looked like it would be a close play at first, but the play never got that far as Jessen tripped and fell on his way to first for the third out.
“That’s kind of the theme right now, we just can’t get hits when we need to, score the runs we need to and just put the ball in play, frankly, 1-9, we’re just not getting it done at all,” Chick said.
That mishap stung as the Huskers went quietly in the ninth, an inning that saw Jackson picked off at first by reliever Tommy Steier to make matters worse. After the final out of the game, Steier, a Creighton Prep graduate, waved goodbye to the Nebraska dugout and gave it a shush with his finger, too.
The loss is the Huskers’ third straight. After a practice on Wednesday, Big Red (9-14) will fly to Ohio to play a three-game series against Ohio State (8-12). Friday’s game one is slated to start at 5:05 p.m. central time.
Jelkin makes first start
In his first collegiate start, true freshman Jelkin retired eight batters in 2 2/3 innings and struck out two batters while allowing a walk and two earned runs on four hits. The Bellevue West product retired eight of his 12 batters faced.
The Huskers used five arms on Tuesday, including Jelkin, Tyler Martin, Jackson Brockett, C.J. Hood and Emmett Olson.
How to fix the offensive woes
Chick and Jackson each went 2-for-4 at the plate while Chick, Anglim and Steil all had a double. Jackson had the lone RBI of the night for the Huskers.
To Chick, a team captain, snapping out of the funk at the plate means continuing to move the line when it’s your turn in the batter’s box. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Just be, I guess, I would say less selfish, but just do whatever it takes to put a ball in play,” Chick said. “Especially if a runner is at first or second, being able to move them with nobody out. That’s our biggest thing is, we’re leaving them out on second base, or they get to third base and we can’t even keep the ball in play. That’s just 1-9.
“That’s something we have to fix as a team and players—we’re the ones out there swinging it.”