Anderson Minnesota

Nebraska’s Max Anderson bats during the game against Minnesota at Haymarket Park on Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A miserable performance at the plate saw Nebraska muster only three hits against a red-hot Rutgers team hitting its stride midway through the season.

Picking up right where it left off in Saturday’s game, Rutgers drew a leadoff walk and then took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double from junior outfielder Richie Schiekofer. That run marked the first time Nebraska failed to score first in the weekend series.

Rutgers senior pitcher Brent Teller was nearly untouchable during his first four innings of work, allowing only one hit. He struck out five and continued to mow down Huskers hitters, getting ahead in counts with excellent command on his fastball.

“For 29 straight games before this I can say we’ve shown up and competed, and today as a team we can’t say that,” head coach Will Bolt said postgame.

The Scarlet Knights made their next move in the top of the fourth, when back-to-back hits kicked off the top of the frame. Freshman infielder Jordan Sweeney recorded an RBI groundout, while later in the inning Schiekofer smacked a two-run double to push Rutgers’ lead to 4-0.

Junior pitcher Shay Schanaman had a decent outing for the Huskers as he settled into the game, despite being hit around early. He finished with six complete innings pitched, giving up four earned runs on six hits.

For the second weekend in the row, what really hurt Nebraska was the lack of offensive production. The Husker lineup only managed one hit through seven innings and couldn’t seem to get a read on anything Teller threw.

“We had a hangover going from yesterday and that starts with me, I’ve got to have our team ready to turn over and start fresh,” Bolt said. “That’s on me and that’s my job as a coach to come in and have our players’ minds right.”

Nebraska did threaten with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning after a walk and hit-by-pitch set the table for freshman Max Anderson. A hard lineout to center ended the threat, and Rutgers remained out in front 4-0.

Schanaman was replaced in the seventh by junior pitcher Koty Frank after surrendering a leadoff single to junior outfielder Mike Nyisztor. Frank worked himself and the Huskers out of the frame with a popout and a pair of ground ball outs to keep Nebraska hanging around.

“I thought Shay settled in well and managed to limit the damage, but he wasn’t ready to go from the get-go,” Bolt said. “He fought to keep us in the ballgame, but we needed that from the first pitch in the first inning.”

Teller’s dominant performance came to an end in the eighth inning after allowing a leadoff single to senior infielder Gunner Hellstrom, who gave Nebraska its second hit of the game. He ended the day with eight strikeouts and, even more impressively, didn’t allow a leadoff batter to reach base through his first seven innings.

Senior pitcher Kyle Muller entered with no one out and a runner on base, forcing senior outfielder Joe Acker to lineout to right field. A long flyout to centerfield and a strikeout got the Scarlet Knights out of the inning with no harm, still up four runs.

The Scarlet Knights added an insurance run off of Frank in the top of the ninth, as freshman outfielder Evan Sleight slapped home an RBI single. Sophomore pitcher Caleb Feekin entered with two outs and walked home a run to make it 6-0 in favor of Rutgers.

Rutgers capped off the shutout in the bottom of the ninth, retiring the heart of the Huskers order for the 6-0 victory. Nebraska had been shutout for just the second time this season. It also marks the first time since 2016 the Huskers have been swept in a three-game conference series.

After being ranked in the top 25 by multiple polls this week, all signs point to Nebraska falling outside of the rankings after being swept. For the Scarlet Knights, it makes back-to-back road series wins against ranked conference opponents.

“We’ve lost three before this season, so I think the best thing to do is roll up our sleeves and get ready for battle,” Acker said postgame. “We need to get back to our selfless brand of baseball that’s made us successful so far this season.”

Hitting woes continued as Nebraska managed only eight runs over the weekend, despite coming into the series as the conference leader in runs scored. The Huskers also now drop into second place in the Big Ten standings, a half-game behind Indiana.

The Huskers exit the weekend series with more questions than answers as the two biggest strengths of their team, the offense and bullpen, struggled. Now approaching the toughest part of their schedule down the stretch, the Huskers’ grit and determination will certainly be tested.

Nebraska will be on the road next weekend for a four-game pod series against Indiana for the first two and Rutgers for the last two. Its first game of the series will be at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday against Indiana in Piscataway, New Jersey.