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Huskers can't handle Oregon State's onslaught

Nebraska dropped the first game of the Big Ten-Pac-12 challenge in Surprise, Ariz.
Nebraska dropped the first game of the Big Ten-Pac-12 challenge in Surprise, Ariz.

FINAL STATS

No. 8 Oregon State took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back in a 10-1 win over Nebraska Thursday.

The Huskers had two runners in scoring position in the top of the first inning but weren’t able to drive one in against pitcher Luke Heimlich. Oregon State’s lefty would go on to have a big day, scattering 6 hits and a run over 7.0 innings and picking up the win.

For Nebraska, Matt Waldron struggled to open the weekend for the second week in a row. After allowing 5 unearned runs against UC-Riverside last Friday, Waldron was torched for 7 earned runs on 10 hits while picking up only a single strikeout in 3.1 innings. He’s now 0-2 on the year.

The Huskers’ lone run came on a single that Jake Schleppenbach ripped up the middle, scoring Mike Waldron. Nebraska stranded two runners each in the fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, not able to get a clean hit when it mattered most.

All of the Beavers’ earned runs came off two pitchers - Waldron and freshman Connor Curry - and all came in the first six innings.

“We were pitching up in the zone, and it was an onslaught,” said Nebraska coach Darin Erstad in his post-game radio show on the Husker Sports Network. “(Waldron) was flat, his breaking ball wasn’t doing anything … when you play very good teams, those things get exposed.”

Including Curry, three Husker pitchers saw their first action of 2017 against Oregon State. Sophomore right-hander Ethan Frazier and junior two-way player Luis Alvarado closed out the game on the mound, and Erstad was overall pleased with what he saw out of the bullpen.

“Those are tough situations to pitch in. We told Connor he’s just got to breathe more,” Erstad said. "I thought Ethan threw some nice pitches … I was really pleased with what Luis was able to go in there and do.”

The top of the Huskers’ lineup struggled once again. Nebraska’s top three returning hitters Jake Meyers, Scott Schreiber and Ben Miller combined for just two hits on the day and weren’t able to make anyone on the Beavers’ pitching staff uncomfortable. No player in the lineup notched more than one hit, with Schleppenbach’s RBI scoring the only run.

In 2016, Nebraska was 8-6 in games played the day after a loss. The team has made it one of their goals to improve their resilience this year.

“The way you respond is what goes on to define you as a ball club,” Erstad said.

The Huskers take on Utah Friday at 6:00 p.m. (CT). The defending Pac-12 champion Utes face Ohio State Thursday evening in the second leg of the Big Ten-Pac-12 double-header.

Senior Derek Burkamper will take the mound for his first appearance of 2017, taking on Utah right-hander Jayson Rose. Friday's game can be heard on 1400 AM in Lincoln, 590 AM in Omaha, the TuneIn radio app, Huskers.com, or the official Huskers app.