Huskers collapse in ninth, lose 8-7 heartbreaker
Nebraska (32-18-1, 14-7-1) gave up three unearned runs and committed two errors in the bottom of the ninth to lose 8-7 to Penn State (18-35,4-17) on Thursday night.
The return to the plate for Huskers center fielder Jake Meyers, who was dealing with a hand injury, was a good one. The junior hit a solo home run to left field to lead off the game, marking his first homer of the season.
“The guy is a gamer,” head coach Darin Erstad said on his postgame radio show. “Hopefully his hand is alright and we’ll see where he is at.”
Penn State responded with a pair of singles to help the Nittany Lions tie it up at 1-1. Willie Burger followed that up with a two-run home run to left center field to give the Nittany Lions the lead.
The Nebraska offense woke back up in the fifth inning when freshman outfielder Mojo Hagge hit a triple into right center field. That was followed up with a Meyers RBI single and then a single by sophomore Angelo Altavilla. After a Scott Schreiber strikeout, senior first baseman Ben Miller came up with a single down the right field line to tie the game up at three.
Penn State junior pitcher Sal Biasi was subbed out in the sixth inning. He allowed five hits, three earned runs and struck out six, but threw 105 pitches.
“They couldn’t have executed the game plan any better,” Erstad said. “We wanted to get a high pitch count up on their guy and get to their bullpen and have a chance to have some success.”
The Nittany Lions retaliated in the bottom of the sixth by stringing together back-to-back doubles to put them back on top 4-3. After that, Nebraska pitcher Jake Hohensee’s night was over. Hohensee allowed five hits, four earned runs and struck out one in 5.1 IP.
After tying the game up in the top of the seventh, the NU offense exploded in the top of the eighth. Sophomore catcher Jesse Wilkening led off the inning with a double, and then Altavilla hit a two-out two-RBI double to right field that put the Huskers back on top. Schreiber followed that up with an RBI single, but was tagged out going for second.
The Huskers went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth and up came Penn State. Nebraska sophomore closer Chad Luesnmann went to the mount and walked the lead-off batter. Freshman infielder Logan Goodnight reached first base on an error by Altavilla, and then freshman outfielder Mason Nadeau stepped to the plate and delivered a double to left center field that scored one.
With two outs, freshman outfielder Braxton Giavedoni hit an infield grounder, but a fielding error by Miller gave the Nittany Lions another run, as well as a man on first. Finally, Penn State senior outfielder Nick Riotto stepped to the plate and delivered a double to left-center field that scored Giavedoni and ended the game.
“This was a cruel game, and this game will chew you up and spit you out,” Erstad said. “For whatever reason, we have been a very solid defensive team and we didn’t take care of the baseball.”
Nebraska returns to action Friday night at 5:30 central time. Nebraska RHP Derek Burkamper (5-4, 3.32 ERA, 57.0 IP, 44 K) will take on Penn State RHP Justin Hagenman (1-10, 5.85 ERA, 72.1 IP, 67 K). The game will be streamed at www.gopsusports.com and can be heard on the Huskers IMG Sports Network.
“We are going to need to flush this one pretty quickly, because we’ll need to get back on it tomorrow.” Erstad said.