Schanaman Minnesota

Nebraska’s Shay Schanaman pitches during the game against Minnesota at Haymarket Park on Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Nebraska baseball team capitalized on Penn State’s four errors Sunday morning, pushing the Huskers to a 5-3 victory over the Nittany Lions for the sweep. Junior pitcher Shay Schanaman completed a trifecta of weekend quality starts as he delivered on the mound, moving to a perfect 4-0 record on the year.

Schanaman put on a show through six innings in State College, Pennsylvania, giving up only two earned runs and working efficiently. He ended the game with only 80 pitches while striking out five.

“The difference in this game was that Schanaman was just really good and we didn’t play good defense behind him, but we didn’t allow free passes,” head coach Will Bolt said postgame. “We didn’t give them a chance to create big innings, our pitching was fabulous.”

Both teams struck in the third frame with Nebraska grabbing a 1-0 lead on an RBI single from junior infielder Spencer Schwellenbach. Penn State knotted the game at one after a wild pitch allowed senior infielder Gavin Homer to score after he singled earlier in the frame.

Miscues haunted the Nittany Lions in the fourth inning as their infield was picked on by the Huskers. Homer committed an error leading to freshman infielder Brice Matthews reaching base, and a mishap from freshman infielder Jay Harry allowed Matthews to score, giving Nebraska a 2-1 lead.

The Huskers picked up right where they left off in the fifth frame, loading the bases with no outs for sophomore outfielder Leighton Banjoff. Banjoff delivered from there, scoring two on a single that extended Nebraska’s advantage to 4-1. 

Similar to Friday’s game, the big hit to put the game out of reach was missing. Nebraska stranded the bases loaded in the fifth after back-to-back strikeouts and a flyout got junior pitcher Kyle Virbitsky out of the inning with little damage.

Penn State hitters wore down Schanaman as the game continued, scoring a run a piece in both the fifth and sixth innings. However, an RBI single in the top half of the sixth from freshman infielder Max Anderson made it a 5-3 game heading into the final third. 

Replacing Schanaman in the seventh inning, junior pitcher Jake Bunz came in for an inning of work and impressed, retiring Penn State in order. Bunz has still not given up a run in 12.2 innings, dating back to his start on March 14 against Iowa.

“Bunzy just coming out with attitude and pumping strikes, I mean what can you say about what he’s done so far this season,” Bolt said. “Each guy that took the ball, I think did a nice job and Schwellenbach made it look easy there in the eighth and ninth.”

Schwellenbach closed the game, making his first appearance on the mound in the weekend series. It was his seventh outing of the season as Bolt turned to the hard-throwing righty to record the final six outs.

A great play by junior Efry Cervantes, who replaced Schwellenbach in the infield, got the first out of the inning and set the tone for the ending of the game. Schwellenbach struck out two in the eighth inning while setting down Penn State in order to maintain a 5-3 lead going to the ninth.

With nothing going for the Huskers in the top half of the final frame, he made quick work of the Nittany Lions in the bottom half to cap off a 5-3 win and series sweep. It was Schwellenbach’s fifth save of the season and pushed Nebraska to an 18-6 record. 

Nebraska’s pitching on the day only allowed the leadoff batter to reach base one time. The Husker pitching staff only surrendered seven runs in total for the weekend series against Penn State.

Remaining at the top of the Big Ten standings now past the halfway point is an impressive feat for a team not picked in the preseason top six. Having won 13 of its last 15, the Huskers look to keep the ball rolling into a tougher back half of the season.

“Finding a way to win three games in someone else’s ballpark, it’s never an easy thing to do,” Bolt said. “The most mentally tough team is going to win Sundays, and I’m proud of our guys for finishing the weekend off.”

Nebraska will be on the road once again next weekend as they travel to East Lansing, Michigan to do battle with Michigan State. Game one is set for 4:05 p.m. as all three games can be viewed on BTN+.