Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Will Walsh Shuts Down North Dakota State in 4-1 Husker Win

March 28, 2023

Will Walsh put together another quality start on the mound, while a three-run homer from Brice Matthews made the difference in Nebraska baseball’s 4-1 win over North Dakota State.

A week after a solid, six-inning outing against Creighton which ended poorly, Walsh allowed just one run in seven innings pitched. He had 11 strikeouts as well, while giving up just two hits and two walks. Postgame, head coach Will Bolt praised the two-way player’s changeup and assistant coach Jeff Christy’s preparation.

“[Walsh] executed at a really high level and coach Christy did a really nice job with the game plan,” Bolt said. “They’re, you know, a team that’s been swinging the bats good coming into it. He silenced it.”

North Dakota State came into the game having scored at least five runs in each of its last six games. The Bison reached double-digits twice during that stretch. But as the head coach said, Walsh put a halt to that momentum, and Shay Schanaman finished off the victory with a save.

The first inning wasn’t the best indication that Walsh would impress again. North Dakota State led off with a hit and Walsh walked the next batter. With runners on the corners and one out a little later in the frame, the Husker pitcher attempted to pick off the runner at first. Nebraska succeeded in recording that out at second base, but the failed steal attempt allowed enough time for the lead runner to successfully reach home.

That 1-0 advantage lasted through four innings for the Bison. Nebraska didn’t have a hit until the third inning, where it put two runners in scoring position before ending the frame with a strikeout and flyout.

Walsh kept doing his job after giving up the early score. Nine of his strikeouts came between the second and fifth innings, allowing a hit and walk in that span.

“I was just going,” Walsh said. “I just get ahead of hitters and then if they get struck out, they strike out, but I was just trying to get weak contact and be in the zone.”

Nebraska’s offense eventually began contributing in the fifth inning, doing most of its work by capitalizing on the opponent’s errors. Gabe Swansen led off the bottom of the fifth with a double, and Ben Columbus followed with a single to right field. That hit didn’t seem like it’d be enough to score Swansen, until the throw from right field to home bounced off, up and past the catcher. Swansen scored on the error, tying the game.

More mishaps took place in the seventh, right after Walsh finished his final inning of the night. With two outs and the bases empty, North Dakota State pulled its pitcher who had retired five of the first six batters he faced. The next man to take the mound — Reese Ligtenberg — hit Cole Evans with his second pitch, and Casey Burnham reached on interference, knocking the catcher’s glove off of his hand with his swing.

Ligtenberg’s night ended there, forcing Joey Danielson in to face Brice Matthews. That didn’t go well for the Bison either. Matthews hit his eighth home run of the year, giving his team a 4-1 lead to cap off an otherwise poor offensive night.

“Brice has been hot all year, was struggling up until that point, but in the biggest moment he’s able to come through for us,” Walsh said.

The last four Huskers to step to the plate were retired, but it didn’t matter. Schanaman hit a couple batters and allowed a hit across the final two innings, but kept North Dakota State from adding any more runs.

Nebraska has struggled in finding a trustworthy starting pitcher for Sundays and midweek contests. After his two recent showings, Bolt believes Walsh could continue to start those types of games moving forward.

After this game, the Huskers will be back on the road for the two weeks, next playing a doubleheader in Texas against Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Abilene Christian.

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Tags: Baseball