It took 13 innings to decide a winner in Piscataway, New Jersey on Monday morning in Nebraska baseball’s pod finale against Rutgers.
Fortunately for Nebraska, extra innings paid off as junior infielder Griffin Everitt came through with a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 13th inning for a 7-6 Nebraska win.
Just a day after pouring on 15 runs against the Scarlet Knights, Nebraska hitters continued where they left off yesterday. Errors haunted Rutgers once again, as senior outfielder Jaxon Hallmark reached base on a throwing mistake, putting the Huskers on the front foot in the top of the first inning.
Junior infielder Spencer Schwellenbach scored Hallmark on an RBI double, followed by a two-run blast by senior infielder Luke Roskam. His home run gave the Huskers a 3-0 lead with just one out.
With bases empty, Nebraska didn’t let up, hitting back-to-back singles to set up freshman infielder Brice Matthews, who delivered with a two-run double. Senior outfielder Logan Foster then knocked in Matthews on an RBI groundout to put Nebraska up 6-0 in the first inning.
From there it was all Rutgers. Junior pitcher Kyle Perry made his first start for the Huskers in over a year coming off Tommy John surgery. He was welcomed back to a confident Rutgers offense which clawed back two runs in the bottom of the opening frame on an RBI single and groundout.
With the lead at 6-2, Nebraska’s offense went silent as Rutgers freshman pitcher Justin Sinibaldi settled down and threw two scoreless frames after the first. The bullpen for the Scarlet Knights tossed six innings of shutout baseball, allowing Rutgers to sneak back into the game.
Rutgers added another run in the second inning on a leadoff home run from senior infielder Kevin Welsh to once again cut the lead, this time to three. Sophomore pitcher Caleb Feekin, who came in for Perry after the first inning, was able to limit the damage and hold Nebraska’s lead at 6-3.
Both teams struggled to form any sort of momentum through the middle innings, as the score remained true at 6-3. Rutgers then began the seventh inning with a hit-by-pitch followed by a one-out walk to give Scarlet Knight freshman outfielder Ryan Lasko two baserunners with two outs.
On a two-strike count with Husker junior reliever Jake Bunz on the mound, Welsh got a fastball and put it over the wall to tie the game at six.
Schwellenbach came in to pitch the eighth and ninth innings for the Huskers, pitching two scoreless innings to keep the game tied at 6-6. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth frame to send the game to extras, Nebraska’s second such game of the year.
After tossing a scoreless 10th inning, a Rutgers leadoff triple kicked off the 11th inning — leaving Schwellenbach with his work cut out for him. He then forced a flyout, strikeout and poput to get out of the frame still tied at six, marking his fourth scoreless inning of relief.
Two big defensive plays were made in the 12th frame to cut down the go-ahead runs for each team. Welsh made a great diving play up the middle to throw out Hallmark at home in the top of the inning, while Hallmark responded with a game-saving laser to Schwellenbach who relayed it home to tag out the winning run for Rutgers.
Matthews singled to start the 13th inning and stole second after a strikeout looking by junior infielder Efry Cervantes. With Matthews on second base, Everitt came through with the biggest hit of the contest, an RBI single to put Nebraska ahead 7-6.
Junior pitcher Koty Frank came in to shut the door and earn the save in a game that lasted over four hours and was almost cut short due to Nebraska’s travel plan. However, the win gives the Huskers a 3-1 record for the weekend and a revenge sweep over the Scarlet Knights.
Nebraska tallied 17 hits over the span of the ballgame, in what turned out to be a long bullpen day for both pitching staffs. With the win, the Huskers improve their record to 23-11, a half-game back of first-place Indiana.
The Huskers will return home next weekend for a three-game series against Northwestern at Haymarket Park. Game one will be Friday night, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. on BTN+.