Hot Husker bats lead to convincing 12-3 win
Under clear skies and temperatures holding in the upper-50s, the Nebraska (8-7) offense wasted no time getting runs across the plate in Wednesday's game against Air Force (9-7). Starting Falcon pitcher John Byrnes only faced four Husker batters before being pulled from the game after walking three of four and adding a run for Nebraska. The Huskers then faced pitcher Jeff Gerlica and were able to plate another two runs to hop out to an early 3-0 lead in the first.
The Huskers would add another four runs in the bottom half of the third thanks to a pair of RBI doubles from Colby Gomes and Alex Henwood and a two-RBI single off of the bat of Mojo Hagge, giving Nebraska a comfortable 7-0 lead heading into the fourth.
From then on, the Falcons tried clawing their way back into the game but were never able to pull within five runs of the Huskers. The biggest offensive highlight on the day for the Falcons was a solo home run off of the bat of Nic Ready to deep left field to pull Air Force within seven at 10-3.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Huskers added two more insurance runs, effectively putting the game away, thanks to a sacrifice fly from Angelo Altavilla and an RBI double from Hagge, giving Nebraska their largest lead and the games final score of 12-3.
Three-run first proves key in win
The real turning point in today's game came when the Huskers took the field, who looked to be locked in and ready to come out with a win. The batters were patient going up against Falcon starter John Byrnes, only allowing him to face a total of four batters and walking three of them. Byrnes' day ended after walking in a run and he finished with 26 total pitches thrown and only 11 of them being strikes.
After Byrnes was replaced by Jeff Gerlica, the Huskers were still able to put two more runs on the board following an RBI groundout from Luke Roskam and another run scored by Hagge on an error made by Gerlica himself.
When the dust settled after the first inning, the Huskers had three runs and had set the tone for the remainder of the game.
Double-digit walks provide offensive burst
Perhaps the most impressive stat in the Huskers win came at the hands of the Falcon pitchers. In all, 15 Nebraska batters were walked, providing the spark that the bats needed, with six of Nebraska's 12 runs being scored from walked batters. Every single batter that faced a Falcon pitcher recorded a walk on the day with Altavilla himself getting a free base his first three at-bats.
Head coach Darin Erstad said the key to facing a team when their pitchers are having trouble finding the strike zone is to stay focused in and capitalize. "Just staying in your zones," Erstad explained. "It's really difficult to get too much action on the bases when they're not around the play but you just can't control where they throw it so the more base runners you have the more things can happen."
Perry shuts down Falcon bats early
Freshman pitcher Kyle Perry bounced back in a big way against Air Force. Coming into his start, the left-handed Perry had only pitched 1.2 innings on the season, allowing three runs and giving up four walks for an ERA of 16.20.
On Wednesday, Perry gave the Nebraska bullpen four solid innings, only allowing six hits, one run and striking out an impressive nine of 12 batters faced. Erstad praised the young pitcher for his ability to adjust to life as a student-athlete and fight through some previously tough outings. "[Perry's] still growing and learning the speed of this game," Erstad said. "College life is not the easiest thing in the world, studying, traveling, weight-room, and pitching. He's going to be just fine so it was good to see him go out there and fight through some things."
Up next for the Huskers
The Huskers open up Big Ten play this weekend with a series at home against Michigan State (3-15) beginning Friday with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m.
Rain looks to be in the forecast so look for the Saturday game to possibly get moved up to Friday.