Burkamper, Huskers shut down Cougars again
For the third game in a row, a Nebraska pitcher let the first batter he saw reach base. And for the third game in a row, a Nebraska pitcher shut down an offense for rest of the day.
Nebraska senior pitcher Derek Burkamper led the charge this time in the Huskers’ third straight dominant defensive effort, a 6-1 win to guarantee a series victory over the College of Charleston. Saturday marked just the second time since 2014 that the Huskers have allowed one run or less in three straight games.
After giving up a walk to start the game, Burkamper retired the next five batters in order to get rolling and eventually pick up his first win of the season. His final line after 6.2 innings of work was one hit, one run, five walks, and five strikeouts.
“Overall, I just felt good about everything,” Burkamper said. “The past couple weeks, I’ve felt good; I just kind of lost it on a couple outings. It feels good to get back to what I know I can do.”
Burkamper’s longest outing of the season dropped his ERA from 5.40 to 3.09. The Cougars’ lone hit on the senior right-hander came in the third inning, when first baseman Riley Knudsen blasted a solo shot to right center. After that, Burkamper mowed down the next six batters he faced.
After Burkamper notched the first two outs of the seventh inning, head coach Darin Erstad made the decision to pull the senior with his pitch count at 94.
“It was a little bit shorter week this week, so we wanted to get him out of there with a reasonable count,” Erstad said. “Velocity-wise, he was about the same towards the end of the game as he was at the start, so that’s a good sign."
“It is cool to get pulled and get a little standing ovation - that’s always nice,” Burkamper said with a smile.
The senior was able to pick up the win after a big fifth inning from the offense. With the score tied 1-1 after Ben Miller’s first home run of the season in the fourth, the Huskers got things off to a positive start in the fifth behind a leadoff single from Mojo Hagge. Two well-placed bunts by Angelo Altavilla and Jake Meyers put both Hagge and Altavilla in scoring position with junior slugger Scott Schreiber at the plate.
As he’s done all weekend, Schreiber delivered, this time with a two-RBI single that cleared the bases. After a walk by Miller and another crafty bunt by Luis Alvarado, sophomore catcher Jesse Wilkening singled into right center and Jake Schleppenbach hit an RBI groundout to extend Nebraska’s lead to 5-1.
The Huskers added an insurance run in the eighth inning that would prove to be necessary in the ninth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Erstad turned to Chad Luensmann, who picked up the four-pitch save by striking out Luke Morgan to clinch the weekend series.
“I’ll take them however they come,” Erstad said. “That’s a credit to our guys; they got it done when they needed to."
Nebraska’s first Saturday win of the year pulled it back to .500 record at 8-8 and also clinched its first weekend series win of the season. The Huskers will try for the series sweep in Sunday’s finale. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. at Haymarket Park.