In game two of its three game series against Rutgers, Nebraska struggled heavily on offense early as it went down 5-4.
Rutgers starting senior right handed pitcher Nathan Florence surrendered just one hit with seven strikeouts through five innings pitched. Florence’s performance put Nebraska down in an early hole..
“We’ve been playing from behind obviously and digging ourselves a hole,” Huskers manager Will Bolt said postgame. “Today it was defensive and they made us pay for it. That's what a good offense does.”
Senior left fielder Cam Chick singled to Scarlet Knights senior shortstop Danny DiGeorgio in the bottom of the first inning, marking Nebraska’s lone hit in the first half of the game.
For Rutgers, the bats started hot, driving the baseball deep, even on its popouts.
With nothing going for the Scarlet Knights in the top of the first, the momentum quickly shifted in their direction during the second inning. To lead off, sophomore second baseman Tony Santa Maria reached first base on a costly error from Huskers sophomore shortstop Brice Matthews.
During the ensuing at-bat, Rutgers junior third baseman Chris Brito doubled down the left field line, advancing Santa Maria to third to put runners on the corners for sophomore left fielder Evan Sleight.
With nobody out in the top of the second inning, Sleight grounded into Matthews for the first out of the inning, while Santa Maria scored unearned from third for the first run of the game to put the Scarlet Knights up 1-0.
Husker starting pitcher Emmett Olson continued to struggle in the second inning after Santa Maria scored. After Sleight’s at-bat, Olson recorded a hit-by-pitch on senior right fielder Mike Nyisztor and allowed a single to left field from sophomore first baseman Jordan Sweeney, scoring Brito.
After a strikeout from Olson and another Scarlet Knight single to score Nyisztor, the Huskers finally got out of the inning on a left field flyout. Rutgers left three men on base but led 3-0.
Both pitchers went back and forth, putting away the opposing batting orders until Florence was pulled for sophomore Ben Gorski in the sixth inning. Florence was fantastic in his outing, retiring the Husker batters in-order in three different innings. After his rough second inning, Olson kept faith throughout the game and didn’t give up another run.
“I trusted myself and I trusted the guys behind me. I knew the ball was going to be put in play and I have really great infielders and outfielders around me,” Olson said.
Olson put away the first two Scarlet Knight batters in the seventh inning before being pulled by Bolt for freshman pitcher CJ Hood.
Hood proceeded to strike out sophomore center fielder Ryan Lasko but was forced to watch as senior catcher Griffin Everitt dropped the final strike, leading to an overthrow from Everitt to junior first baseman Colby Gomes. Lasko advanced to second base on the bad throw.
Maintaining his composure, Hood forced DiGeorgio into a popup to end the inning and the Scarlet Knights still up 3-0.
The Huskers entered the bottom of the seventh inning with only one hit accounted for and desperate to make contact on the ball. Thankfully for Husker faithful, Gomes and company delivered in a monstrous way.
Everitt started the inning with a lead off walk, followed by a strikeout from freshman right fielder Garrett Anglim. During the ensuing at-bat, junior designated hitter Nick Wimmers got Nebraska’s second hit of the afternoon on a single to the right side of the infield, advancing Everitt to second.
Freshman infielder Gabe Swansen came in to pinch hit for freshman outfielder Luke Jessen, making solid contact on the ball but was the eventual second out of the inning. With Gomes at the plate with two men on base but two outs, the Huskers needed some form of offense
Gomes launched the ball just over the left field wall, sending Haymarket Park into a frenzy. The hit from Gomes tied the game up 3-3 entering the eighth inning with the momentum clearly in the Huskers favor, or so it seemed.
Currently first in the Big Ten, Rutgers didn’t go down easily.
Junior pitcher Braxton Bragg came in to relieve Hood in the top of the eighth inning. The swap by Bolt and the Huskers’ pitching staff was a critical miscalculation.
Bragg hit the first batter he faced, putting the go-ahead run on base for the Scarlet Knights. Santa Maria came up the plate next and connected with every part of the baseball as he homered to left field, pushing the Scarlet Knights back on top 5-3.
In the bottom of the inning, the Huskers tried to answer the homerun with offense of their own and they did. Junior infielder Leighton Banjoff, coming in as a pinch hitter, worked his way into a walk with the bases loaded, scoring Everitt from third. Gomes came back up to the plate with a chance to tie the game or take the lead, and he struck out swinging to end the eighth, still down 5-4 entering the final frame.
Bragg made easy work of the Scarlet Knight batters in the ninth inning to give the Huskers one last chance to at least tie the game and enter extra innings.
With two outs away in the inning, freshman second baseman Core Jackson singled to left field followed by a walk from Anderson to put the go ahead run on base. Down to their final out, the Huskers’ hopes ended on a ground ball to DiGeorgio. DiGeorgio ended the game with a throw to second base, giving the Scarlet Knights the 5-4 win.
The Huskers take on Rutgers in their series finale on Sunday at Haymarket Park.