Haymarket Park welcomed back 1,647 fans back on Friday afternoon to see the first home series of the season for Nebraska baseball. It was all Huskers from the start, as they defeated the Golden Gophers 6-1 in their first home game in 380 days.
“It was a welcome sight to see the red in the stands and hear the cheers, for everything we’ve been through it’s pretty awesome,” head coach Will Bolt said postgame. “Most everyone came here for the fans and atmosphere and it was awesome to get the win today in our home opener.”
Senior infielder Jaxon Hallmark got the fans on their feet early, blasting a solo home run in the bottom of the first to go up 1-0. Hallmark ended the day going 2-for-4 with a bunt single in the seventh inning and a walk in the eighth.
Nebraska added another run in the third as junior infielder Spencer Schwellenbach slapped a double into the right-center gap after a senior infielder Joe Acker was walked. Acker scored on the hit and the Husker lead grew to 2-0.
On the mound, junior pitcher Cade Povich made light work of the Golden Gophers in seven innings of work. He recorded 10 strikeouts on the day while only allowing four hits to improve his record to 2-1 on the year.
Povich has turned into the Huskers’ ace through four weekends according to Bolt, after being the Sunday starter just a season ago.
“I think a little bit of everything was working today, I couldn’t have asked for anything better, it was awesome,” Povich said. “Every pitch felt comfortable in every count and it was great to get back in front of the home crowd.”
Minnesota sophomore Sam Ireland pitched 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs in his start. He passed the game off to senior pitcher Tom Skoro, who was blasted by a Husker offense that continues to wear down pitching staffs late in games.
The sixth inning started with a single from senior infielder Cam Chick and a walk by freshman Max Anderson. After a SAC bunt moved the runners over, the Huskers got a pair of RBI singles from senior outfielder Mojo Hagge and junior infielder Griffin Everitt, growing the lead to 4-0.
Hagge came around to score after a double steal was put on and an errant throw by the catcher trickled into the outfield to make it 5-0. The fifth-year senior finished the day 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and an RBI.
Minnesota showed signs of life in the eighth inning after sophomore Braxton Bragg replaced Povich. They got one run on an RBI single by sophomore infielder Zack Elliott, but Bragg then forced hot-hitting junior infielder Zack Raabe to ground into a double play, ending the inning.
Bragg closed out the ninth without giving up another run, giving Nebraska the game one victory and improving its overall record to 8-4. The Huskers exploded for 11 hits and got a runner on base in all eight innings they came up to bat.
In its last three games, Nebraska has scored 29 runs after its two-game scoring struggle against Iowa. The Huskers remain one of the more dangerous offenses in the Big Ten.
“It was a really complete game, we played small ball, stole some bases and threw strikes today and executed overall,” Bolt said. “We did a lot right today and that’s exactly how we drew it up for a Friday game.”
The Huskers will host the Golden Gophers again tomorrow in a doubleheader with game one starting at noon, and game two following 45 minutes after. Nebraska senior pitcher Chance Hroch will start game one, while junior pitcher Jake Bunz is on the mound for game two.