The Nebraska baseball team crushed Purdue 17-0 as the Huskers improved to 15-9 and 5-2 in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers dropped to 10-18 and 4-2 in Big Ten play.
The win was head coach Darin Erstad’s 250th with the Huskers.
Nebraska’s dominant play began immediately. Starting pitcher Matt Waldron put together an effective first inning, earning his 200th career strikeout as the Huskers set down the side.
Waldron finished the game with nine strikeouts.
“I truly trust my stuff more,” Waldron said. “Being able to throw a little bit harder like I am right now gives more room for my offspeed to be a little more effective.”
The Huskers made an immediate splash in their first home game since March 24. Purdue’s left-handed pitcher Patrick Smith started, but after throwing 38 pitches in the first inning and allowing four runs, he was pulled for freshman pitcher Kyle Wade.
Nebraska left fielder Carter Cross opened the scoring with a single that brought both right fielder Aaron Palensky and center fielder Joe Acker home. Smith then threw three wild pitches and walked designated hitter Keegan Watson and shortstop Angelo Altavilla, loading the bases for Nebraska After a Smith wild pitch, Cross reached home plate and a single from freshman third baseman Cam Chick brought Watson home.
Up 4-0 in the first inning, the Purdue errors piled on as Altavilla walked home and Smith was pulled for Wade, who only gave up one more run in the first.
The Huskers’ success continued into the second inning, where Palensky hit his 10th double of the season and Mojo Hagge came in as a pinch hitter for Cross. Hagge’s single brought Palensky home and a Watson ground out advanced Hagge to second. After another wild pitch and Altavilla single, Hagge scored and the Huskers led 8-0 after two innings.
“Friday night, we came out and swung the bats well,” Erstad said. “They gave us a few wild pitches and walks but we took advantage of it.”
That offensive success came through base hits and great plate awareness, as Nebraska drew six walks in the win.
Chick hit his first career home run as a Husker as a lead-off hitter in the fifth inning to give Nebraska a 9-0 lead.
“Running down the line, I was like ‘it’s probably gone’ and when the guy stopped, my heart dropped,” Chick said. “‘Hope it’s not the warning track because I’ll get so much crap from the guys.’”
After Chick’s home run, first baseman freshman Colby Gomes and second baseman sophomore Jaxon Hallmark hit a single and double respectively. After Acker struck out, Palensky walked after four balls and created another bases loaded opportunity.
Catcher sophomore Gunner Hellstrom hit a double that scored Hallmark and Gomes to give Nebraska an 11-0 lead. Hagge then hit a two-run double, extending the Huskers lead to 13 runs. Wade gave up two more runs through a Watson single that got Hagge home and an Altavilla double that got Watson home , prompting him to be replaced by freshman Hayden Wynja..
Wynja closed out the inning with a Chick groundout and Hallmark’s fly out to end the fifth.
After another great performance by Waldron, he was pulled for junior Ben Klenke in the eighth inning. This was not Erstad’s only move in the eighth, as he made four other substitutions in the inning.
In the last two innings, Nebraska closed out the game with relative ease as they got two more runs and won 17-0.
“It don’t matter if we’re up by 10, down by 10 or it’s tied, you go play and our guys have that mentality,” Erstad. “I just think our guys like to play baseball.”
Nebraska looks to extend its undefeated home record and close out its series against Purdue on Saturday at 2:35 p.m. and Sunday at 12:05 p.m.