Anderson's grand slam lifts Husker baseball to series win over Ohio State
Nebraska baseball took out three games of hitting frustration on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon. The Huskers (11-14) poured it on in the middle third of the contest scoring seven runs on the way to a 10-5 victory. It was a complete performance for Nebraska, clinching its first series win in Big Ten play.
After a quick and scoreless first inning, both teams flipped an offensive switch in the second. Nebraska got it started in the top half with a one-out triple by Garrett Anglim. Two at-bats later, Core Jackson brought Anglim home with a bunt single.
But the Buckeyes bounced back in the bottom of the second. Three consecutive singles led to two runs for Ohio State and a 2-1 advantage after a pair.
Ohio State right-hander Nate Haberthier seemed to have regained his footing with two quick outs in the third. Then the Buckeye starter walked Max Anderson and Griffin Everitt smashed his sixth home run of the season to left center. Just like that, the Huskers had regained the lead, but once again Ohio State had an answer with a RBI-single from Tyler Pettorini tying the game 3-3.
Nebraska maintained momentum on offense with a dominant fourth inning. The Huskers pounded the Buckeyes with three hits started by Nick Wimmers' leadoff single and ending with a bases-clearing double from Brice Matthews. The two-RBI double from Matthews doubled Nebraska's score to 6-3.
Husker starter Koty Frank worked quickly through the fourth with the assist of a double play, but Ohio State got to the senior in the fifth. After surrendering a RBI double to bring the Buckeyes within two, Frank's day was done and in stepped Tyler Martin. Martin gave up another RBI double but coaxed a groundout to close the frame with a 6-5 lead.
Nebraska loaded the bases in the sixth on a walk and two singles and it looked as if the ghosts of recent missed opportunities would haunt the Huskers once again. Then Max Anderson came to the plate and, facing Ohio State's Ethan Hammerberg, annihilated the baseball sending it out for a grand slam to dead center and a 10-5 advantage.
Hammerberg had surrendered three earned runs prior to that home run all season and had not allowed a run since March 2.
From there on, Martin was excellent the rest of the way. He tossed three straight 1-2-3 innings before handing the ball to Braxton Bragg in the ninth. Bragg struck out two of the three batters he faced and Nebraska had clinched it's first three-game series win of the season.
It was a true hit parade for the Huskers on Saturday.
Each Husker in the order notched a base hit with the exception of Cam Chick who had three strikeouts in an 0-5 day. From Matthews on down the order to Luke Sartori contributed to Nebraska's 11-hit day.
Sartori and Core Jackson each provided an RBI from the bottom third of the Husker order. Nebraska also had three different batters with multiple RBIs. Anderson had four to lead the team with his grand slam while Matthews and Everitt each had two RBIs.
Wimmers was a pleasant surprise as well. The junior and Ohio Native hit 2-3 with a double and reached base two additional times on a walk and hit by pitch.
The most important number was how Nebraska batted with runners in scoring position. In their last three games, the Huskers were a combined 4-37 (.108) with RISP. In the victory over Ohio State, Nebraska was a much improved 4-13 (.308) and hit 7-16 (.438) with runners on base.
The Huskers will have to prove that Saturday's offensive outburst was no fluke on Sunday.
Martin the Magnificent
With all of the offensive fireworks, the performance of Tyler Martin will likely fly under the radar.
He was lights out from the moment he gave up an RBI double to Ohio State's Kade Kern in the fifth to make it 6-5. The senior from Webb City, Missouri kept the Buckeyes blown back on their heels until he exited in favor of Braxton Bragg for the ninth.
Martin retired ten in a row throughout a masterful 3.2 innings of work. In that time he also added four strikeouts. That was key especially considering Husker starter Koty Frank had struggled to do so throughout the first 4.1 innings. Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said after the game that it was the best that he had seen Martin throw.
For a young bullpen and pitching staff that has suffered some injuries, seeing someone step up is a big deal. In the short term, it puts Nebraska in good position with its arms for Sunday's series finale.
Martin was awarded the pitching win for the Huskers and deserved every bit of it.
The Huskers will close out the series Sunday afternoon seeking a sweep. The game can be streamed on BTN+ with a subscription and will be broadcast on the Huskers Radio Network. First pitch is slated for 12:05 p.m. with Dawson McCarville set to pitch for Nebraska.