Nebraska Baseball vs Michigan photo  2.jpg

Angelo Altavilla (7) bats from home plate during the first game against Michigan at TD Ameritrade Park on Saturday, May 25, 2019, in Omaha, Nebraska. 

It was a tale of two halves as, on back-to-back nights, the Nebraska bullpen blew a lead. A fantastic start from senior pitcher Chance Hroch was to no avail as the Huskers fell 6-5 to Rutgers Saturday.

The Huskers once again got on the board to start the game on a leadoff home run from senior outfielder Joe Acker, securing a 1-0 lead. It marked his second long ball of the series and his fifth on the season and gave Nebraska some offensive life early.

On the bump, Hroch went to work as he managed a big double play to get the Huskers off the field in the top half of the first inning. He retired 11 of 12 straight batters without allowing a hit, with the exception being a walk in the third inning.

Nebraska added two more in the third inning after another long home run off the bat of senior infielder Luke Roskam. Roskam was a bright spot for the Huskers, finishing 3-for-5 as he continues to be a staple of the Husker lineup. 

Following an error, hit-by-pitch and a walk, the bases were loaded for senior outfielder Jaxon Hallmark to break the game open. He delivered a single up the middle as one run came across,

with Rutgers freshman outfielder Ryan Lasko firing a strike and cutting down the second run to keep the lead at only 3-0.

With Hroch still dominating on the mound, the Huskers added two more on their third home run of the day, this time junior infielder Spencer Schwellenbach. After an Acker double put a runner on base, Schwellenbach smacked a two-run homer to put Nebraska in front 5-0.

Rutgers took over from there.

“I thought our attitude just changed and we didn’t believe in ourselves anymore,” head coach Will Bolt said postgame. “And sometimes that’s baseball.”

Rutgers got a run back in the sixth after a single from senior infielder Danny DiGeorgio paved the way for an RBI double courtesy of senior infielder Kevin Welsh. Hroch worked out of it and got two ground balls to limit the damage, keeping the Husker advantage at four runs.

Hroch finished the game throwing six complete innings, only allowing one earned run while striking out five. He turned the ball over to sophomore pitcher Braxton Bragg, who had a disappointing performance out of the bullpen.

Bragg surrendered two home runs on back-to-back as Josh Rodriguez hit a two-run homer and junior outfielder Mike Nyisztor followed it with a solo home run. With the score now 5-4 in the seventh inning, Bolt brought in Schwellenbach to get the final seven outs.

“They didn’t miss Bragg’s fastball, and he caught too much off the plate with his pitches and they took advantage,” Bolt said. “We wanted to give them a different look after Hroch and clearly we didn’t make the right call.”

The hard-throwing right hander got out of the inning after giving up a single, forcing a double play to maintain the Husker lead. However, the Scarlet Knights continued to battle as they started off the eighth frame after a flyout with a walk and single.

Welsh delivered yet again with another RBI hit, this time a single to tie the game at five, putting a blemish on Schwellenbach’s previously perfect ERA. The run was the first one he’s allowed all season in his first 14.2 innings pitched.

The Scarlet Knights started the ninth inning with a single from Nyisztor, as Schwellenbach quickly got the next two outs. However, it was freshman outfielder Evan Sleight who came through with an RBI single to go up 6-5 off the Husker closer.

A Nebraska comeback attempt fell short as senior outfielder Mojo Hagge reached base safely on an errant throw to give the Huskers some life. However, three straight outs sealed the game and the series.

“Give those guys a lot of credit in the other dugout, they are a tough team and they were tougher today and have been this whole weekend,” Bolt said. “We got to find a way to hold serve here and at least take a game tomorrow.”

After a streak of 22 and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball coming into the weekend, Nebraska’s bullpen seems to have hit a slump. In the previous two games, the pitchers have combined to surrender 12 runs against a tough Rutgers offense.

Nebraska will battle Rutgers one final time tomorrow with first pitch at noon. Junior pitcher Shay Schanaman will take the mound for the Huskers, while senior pitcher Brent Teller will pitch for the Scarlet Knights.

sports@dailynebraskan.com