Husker baseball avenges loss to UT Arlington with 8-2 pummeling
Nebraska baseball (4-7) completed the weekend series in Texas on Saturday evening with an 8-2 win over UT Arlington (3-6). The Huskers crushed the Mavericks with a huge ninth inning returning the favor after UT Arlington scored four in the bottom of the ninth to beat Nebraska on Friday 4-3.
Husker starting pitcher Dawson McCarville started strong by working around singles for the Mavericks in the first and second innings without allowing a run. But, Nebraska's offense continued to struggle in the first two innings. Five of the first six batters grounded out against UT Arlington starter, David Moffat.
Brice Matthews stepped to the plate with two outs in the third. He singled to left field and stole second sparking the offense to life after the previous six Husker batters had been retired. Luke Jessen brought Matthews home on a single and was then scored by Max Anderson's triple. Griffin Everitt plated Anderson with a single to make it 3-0 Nebraska.
McCarville worked 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth for Nebraska in what was his best start of the year. The Huskers loaded the bases in the fifth but only scored one off of an Everitt ground out stretching Nebraska's advantage to 4-0.
In the sixth, shades of the Husker's collapse on Friday began to resurface.
Garrett Anglim tripled to begin the inning for Nebraska but was stranded at third base. In the bottom of the inning, McCarville allowed a walk and a single leading to two Maverick runs. With a 4-2 lead, McCarville exited in line for the win and in came Tyler Martin. Martin limited the damage and maintained the Husker lead.
Nebraska's bullpen posted scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth as Braxton Bragg made his first appearance since the Sam Houston series. The Huskers held a two-run lead beginning the ninth inning. This one would be much different than the last meeting with the Mavericks.
Josh Caron began the action with a single. That was the first of four hits for Nebraska in the inning leading to four runs. Anderson earned his second RBI of the day and doubled the Husker's runs growing the lead to 8-2. Bragg closed the game well for Nebraska fighting off a hit batter and a single by icing the contest with a strikeout.
Welcome back Max
Max Anderson has been a sorely missed bat.
Anderson had three hits in the season opener with Sam Houston. In that game he had a double and a triple. Entering Saturday's second game Anderson had not had a multi-hit game and had not hit an extra base hit since opening day. That all changed on Saturday afternoon.
Anderson had the first Husker hit of the day and gave Nebraska a 2-0 lead on his first extra-base hit since Feb. 22 of this year. He closed the day 4-5 with two RBIs and as the leading hitter for both teams.
Undoubtably, he is a huge part of the Husker offense. But, in previous games he had been a non-factor. He and the rest of the top of the Nebraska lineup delivered Saturday. The first four hitters for the Huskers had 10 of the 15 Nebraska hits.
The Nebraska offense had sputtered at times during the weekend. In the final game of the series, the Huskers felt like their old selves. That was especially true in the ninth where Nebraska manufactured runs with small ball, contact singles and intelligent baserunning.
Seeing Anderson begin to click is a good sign for this offense.
Starting pitching positives
The Nebraska pitching staff provided 34 scoreless innings this weekend.
26.1 of those innings came from starting pitching for the Huskers. That's a major step in the right direction for Nebraska. To a certain extent, the competition must be considered. However, Northwestern State had averaged 3.8 runs per game prior to being shutout twice by Nebraska. UT Arlington lost to Michigan by two and TCU by three.
Every starter who pitched this weekend had their longest outing of the season. McCarville had just one strikeout but was efficient finishing with 60 pitches. He also did a solid job limiting damage. The only inning where he got in trouble and allowed UT Arlington's two runs was the sixth where he gave up his first walk.
Walks have been a huge indicator for the starting pitchers. This weekend, Nebraska starters gave up four combined. Adding Koty Frank, who gave up two of those walks, into the mix as a starter could raise the level of completion for this unit too.
By no means is this group out of the woods yet, but this weekend was much improved in terms of consistency and longevity.
The Huskers have their first mid-week game of the season on Tuesday.
Nebraska will travel to Manhattan, Kansas to face Kansas State that evening. The game will be televised on ESPN+ and broadcast on the Husker Sports Network. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. as the Huskers play their final road game before the home opener at Haymarket Park.