Husker baseball walks off with a 6-5 victory over New Mexico State
Nebraska baseball (7-9) earns its third win and second walk-off victory of the week against New Mexico State. With the game tied at 5-5 and two outs, infielder Efry Cervantes said he knew he was going out swinging.
The senior crushed a single to right field with the bases loaded and second-baseman Brice Matthews stomped on home to defeat the Aggies and win the series 2-0.
However, the Huskers game didn't start as great as it ended.
Right-handed pitcher Drew Christo got his first start as a Husker and had his first appearance in Haymarket Park. The Elkhorn product couldn’t settle down and gave up a single to leadoff hitter Brandon Dieter then walked three Aggies.
Fellow Elkhorn graduate Jackson Brockett came in with two outs, struck out Preston Godfrey and then pitched the second inning, allowing two runs and three hits.
Luckily for the Huskers, right-hander Braxton Bragg entered for the third inning and stayed on the mound for 4.1 innings and 58 pitches Bragg threw three strikeouts, allowed four hits and three runs.
Lefty Tyler Martin, righty CJ Hood and lefty Emmett Olson each pitched an inning to close out the game. Olson started the top of the ninth, struck out catcher Logan Gallina and the Huskers' defense got the final two outs on a pop fly and a ground ball.
The Huskers didn't get a batter on base until the bottom of the fourth when Core Jackson reached on an error. Max Anderson sent a ball to left-field to get Nebraska's first hit of the game.
Jackson eventually stole home on a wide pitch and Anderson scored thanks to a fly ball by Matthews for the third out, 3-2 Aggies.
In the bottom of the eighth, Cam Chick gave Nebraska life when he launched a ball into the right-center field berm for a home run with catch Josh Caron on base to close the Aggies’ lead to 5-4.
Until the eighth inning, NU's offense was getting good contact on balls but couldn't get past the Aggies' lockdown defense. Multiple New Mexico State players made great catches on tough hit balls.
While the Aggies seemingly had every ball hit within reach, the Huskers couldn't quite glove the close one. Center-fielder Cam Chick, left-fielder Luke Jessen and Matthews all laid out for balls and merely missed them.
Nebraska’s offense stepped up in clutch time in the bottom of the ninth. Anderson flied out to right field and DH Griffin Everitt and Matthews were both walked in the ninth. Garrett Anglim hit in Luke Sartori, who pinch-ran for Everitt.
Caron struck out and it was up to Cervantes. As soon as the ball hit the bat, Nebraska knew they had done it.
Braxton Bragg balled
For a minute there, it looked like Nebraska was going to go through all of the pitchers in the bullpen. Christo and Brockett didn't battle like they needed to and the Huskers desperately turned to Bragg.
Brockett got out of the second inning with the bases loaded but allowed two runs and three hits after Edwin Martinez-Pagani led off with a triple.
Bragg took the mound and Nebraska sat down three consecutive batters including two strikeouts. In the fourth, Tommy Tabak launched a triple that bounced off the left-field warning track but Bragg settled and went one, two, three.
Head coach Will Bolt said Bragg's performance saved the game for the Huskers.
Bragg could become a solid midweek guy for Nebraska.
Kept their head down
It could have been easy for Nebraska's hitter to get discouraged as NMSU caught seemingly every ball hit toward them, no matter how difficult. The Huskers could have also been discouraged by several out-of-reach balls.
However, Nebraska kept their heads down and feet on the petal at the plate and in the field and the luck eventually turned their way.
After the game, Cervantes said the hitters didn't get frustrated because they were getting good swings on the balls and they would eventually start falling.
So far this week, Nebraska came out on the other side smiling of two walk-off wins and a 12-6 victory and it's only Wednesday.
The Huskers desperately needed a long homestand to get some wins and improve morale as they started the season slower than expected.
Nebraska gets a much-needed day off after four consecutive game days. Then they're back at Haymarket Park as the Huskers take on Texas A&M Corpus Christi in a three-game series starting on Friday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday's game is at 2 p.m. and Sunday's game starts at noon.