4.16 Nebraska Baseball vs. Northwestern

Nebraska's Cole Evans (12) swings during the game against Northwestern at Haymarket Park on Sunday, April 16, 2023, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska baseball secured the series sweep over Northwestern on Sunday, defeating the Wildcats 18-5 in a windy game that saw a ton of offense. The Huskers improved to 21-11-1 (7-2 Big Ten) and remain at the top of the conference standings.

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Will Walsh got the start for the second consecutive Sunday, going three up, three down with two strikeouts in the top of the first inning. Senior center fielder Casey Burnham got Nebraska’s offense started in the bottom frame with a one-out single. He was not on first long as junior second baseman Max Anderson brought him all the way home with an RBI double. Two were on base after redshirt sophomore Garrett Anglim reached first after getting hit by a pitch for a whopping fourth time in the series. Sophomore left fielder Gabe Swansen continued his hot hitting from yesterday with a bases-clearing double that fell between three Wildcats, giving the Huskers a 3-0 lead after one.

Walsh added another three up, three down inning in the second on just eight pitches. The wind proved to be Nebraska’s friend in the bottom of the inning as junior left fielder Cole Evans reached second with a double off the right field wall. Junior shortstop Brice Matthews followed that up with a two-run blast that carried over the center field fence. His 12th home run of the season gave the Huskers a 5-0 lead and extended their streak to 14 games in a row with a homer.

Northwestern could not get anything going on offense, once again going three up, three down against Walsh in the third. The Huskers added another run to their lead, as senior first baseman Charlie Fischer hit a triple off the center fielder's glove. Sophomore catcher Josh Caron brought him home on a ground out and Nebraska led 6-0 through three.

The Wildcats finally got their first runner on base in the fourth with a leadoff walk. A fielding error with two outs put runners on the corners, but a diving Burnham catch prevented any runs from scoring, keeping the shutout intact. After tying Anderson with his 12th home run of the year in the second inning, Matthews took the season lead with a solo shot to left in the bottom of the fourth, making it 7-0 Nebraska. This competition has brought the best out of the two with both hitting over .400 on the year.

“It’s been a joy to watch those guys,” head coach Will Bolt said. “It’s hard to find, especially two middle infielders at the college level that are hitting the way those guys are hitting, playing defense the way that they’re playing, and leading the team the way that they’re leading.”

Walsh’s no-hit bid came to a disappointing end in the fifth inning as Caron could not field an infield pop-up resulting in a Wildcat single. Another single put runners on first and second, but Walsh finished the inning with his fifth strikeout to keep Northwestern scoreless. 

Nebraska continued to pour it on in the fifth as Fischer hit a leadoff home run to right center field. Sloppy fielding hurt the Wildcats, as a dropped ball led to a Swansen double. After a wild pitch moved Swansen to third, Caron brought him home with an RBI single. Through five, Nebraska led 9-0.

Walsh’s day was over after allowing two hits on 77 pitches, and fifth-year pitcher Jake Bunz took over for the sixth inning. Northwestern got on the board with a two-out home run to left field, marking the first earned run Bunz had given up on the season. Meanwhile, Burnham was all over the field making another impressive catch to end the inning. The windy conditions made it challenging for outfielders to play usually routine fly balls.

“It’s a little hectic out there,” Swansen said postgame. “Just always staying alert, just being ready for every ball because you never know what’s gonna happen.”

The home run battle between Anderson and Matthews heated up in the sixth with Anderson hitting a three-run shot to right field, tying the two at 13 homers on the year. Anglim added to the fun with a home run of his own to right-center field, giving him his fifth home run on the season. Nebraska added its third home run of the inning and sixth of the game two batters later with Swansen hitting a no-doubter to right field. The Huskers added five runs in the bottom frame, expanding their lead to 14-1.

Junior pitcher Brett Sears took the mound for the seventh, collecting a pair of strikeouts while throwing a scoreless frame. Nebraska looked to its dugout with the big lead, as fifth-year pinch hitter Efry Cervantes led off the inning with a double and fifth-year pinch hitter Griffin Everitt scored him with a double of his own. Swansen was not ready to call it a day yet, however, as he hit his second homer of the game, a three-run shot to deep center field. He joined Anderson and Matthews in the double-digit home run club, putting the Huskers up 18-1 through seven. 

Freshman pitcher Caleb Clark got a turn at the mound in the eighth inning, allowing a solo home run with two outs before getting out of a bases-loaded jam. For the first time in the game, Nebraska failed to record a run in an inning after a scoreless eighth frame.

Redshirt freshman Will Rizzo was on the mound in the ninth and loaded the bases with two outs. Northwestern cleared them with a three-RBI double that bounced off of Swansen’s glove. Rizzo ended the game with a strikeout giving the Huskers the commanding 18-5 win.

Nebraska completed the series sweep in a game that saw seven home runs, a Haymarket Park record. Matthews and Swansen hit two each while Anderson, Anglim, and Fischer each hit one, respectively.

“We have a good offense,” Bolt said postgame. “Today’s obviously a good day to hit for both teams. I thought we really did a nice job.”

Swansen had a career day, finishing with six RBIs on four extra-base hits. Through the highs and lows of his season, Swansen uses a positive outlook to get through it all. 

“Just mindset,” Swansen said postgame. “You’ll have those times where you feel like you can’t hit a baseball… I had that like a week or two ago where I felt like I couldn’t really hit it, but now I’m starting to respond.”

Nebraska finished with 18 runs on 20 hits and one error. Northwestern finished with five runs on eight hits and no errors.

The Huskers will host Creighton in an in-state matchup on Tuesday.