Huskers late rally is not enough as they fall short 7-5 to Rutgers
Nebraska (12-16, 4-3) found a spark in the bottom of the ninth as they scored three runs to close the gap but couldn't come back and fell 7-5 to Rutgers (23-6, 6-1).
First-baseman Colby Gomes started the bottom of the ninth with a single through the left side. After Core Jackson flied out to left field, Matthews hit a single down the left-field line to advance Gomes to second.
Scarlet Knight pitcher Sam Bello, who relieved starter Jared Kollar, was pulled after that and lefty Dale Stanavich came in and hit his first batter, Husker left-fielder Cam Chick, with a pitch to load the bases.
Third-baseman Max Anderson, who went 0-for-5, struck out but catcher Griffin Everitt sent a double down the left-field line as three Huskers sprinted home. Right-fielder Garrett Anglim struck out looking to end the game, his fourth time at bat not getting on base against Rutgers.
Nebraska also had an opportunity in the first inning to make Rutgers pay and get up on the scoreboard but couldn't convert.
To start the game, Rutgers center-fielder Ryan Lasko proved the wind could be a factor in the matchup as he popped up a fly ball into right-field that was carried to Rutgers' bullpen for a leadoff home run. Husker right-handed pitcher Shay Schanaman bounced back and struck out the next three batters.
The Scarlet Knights' starting pitcher Jared Kollar didn’t come out as sharp and walked four Huskers in the bottom of the first. Shortstop Brice Matthews, who was walked as the leadoff hitter, tied it up at 1-1 as he took home on a wild pitch.
Rutgers' left-fielder Mike Nyisztor scored after getting hit by a pitch to get on base and advanced on a flyout and singles by right-fielder Richie Schiekofer and catcher Nick Cimillo to go up 2-1 in the top of the third.
Both teams went three up, three down in the bottom of the third and the entire fourth inning.
In the top of the fifth, Schiekofer launched a ball with two outs to center field for a two-run homer that bounced deep into the outfield gated area to give Rutgers a 4-1 lead.
Matthews seemed to provide a constant spark for Nebraska as he has three hits during his four at-bats. In the fifth, he earned NU's first hit, a single to left field with two outs, which Chick followed up with a triple that he sent down the right-field line.
However, Anderson, the next batter up, was grounded out at first base and Chick was left on third. NU cut Rutgers led to 4-2.
The Scarlet Knights kept their momentum going as they scored three runs on four hits in the top of the sixth when Schanaman gave up one single, two doubles and a two-run homer to right field.
Left-handed pitcher Chandler Benson took over for Schanaman to start the top of the seventh and helped sit down the first three batters.
Schanaman gave up nine runs, seven hits and struck out seven batters in his 99 pitches.
Rutgers also replaced their starter in the seventh with righty Sam Bello who gave up a leadoff single to Gomes and walked second-baseman Efry Cervantes. Matthews got called out on a fly ball but Jackson, who was pinch-running for Cervantes, advanced to second.
But Chick and Anderson had back-to-back outs to leave Jackson stranded.
In the eighth, Nebraska got out of a two runners-on-base situation but couldn't get anything going at the plate on the offensive side.
Right-handed pitcher Corbin Hawkins led NU's defense to a 1-2-3 half-inning but Nebraska's offense heated up too late and the Huskers lost their third Big Ten game so far this season.
First inning opportunity
Not very often does a Friday night starting pitcher in the Big Ten walk four batters in the first inning. Kollar did just that against Nebraska and the Huskers only scored one run.
With the bases loaded, back-to-back Husker batters were retired and three runners were left on base.
Rutgers set the tone with the first batter rocketed a homer to the right-field bullpen but Nebraska had a shot to change the tides and they didn't.
Kollar threw 41 pitches in the first inning which the Husker dugout hoped would shorten his outing however, he stuck around for five more innings and threw 100 pitches and struck out five Huskers, allowing two hits and two runs.
If the Huskers want to turn their season around, they need to start by taking advantage of big moments and capitalizing on mistakes.
Batters left on base
Leaving batters on base has become a theme for this Husker squad.
Against Rutgers they left nine batters on base. In the previous series against Ohio State, Nebraska left 28 batters on base despite winning all three games by a total of 32-15.
During its midweek series against Omaha, the Huskers left 12 batters on base to lose the game 6-5 and the season series.
Nebraska has had several players throughout the season that have gotten hot but they haven't has multiple players get hot at the same time. When that happened, Nebraska dominated Ohio State 17-5.
Nebraska and Rutgers are back on Hawks Field at Haymarket Park on Saturday for a 3:15 p.m. first pitch followed by a 12:05 first pitch on Sunday in the series finale.