Huskers load bases in the ninth, lose 5-3 to No. 17 TCU
baseball Edit

Huskers load bases in the ninth, lose 5-3 to No. 17 TCU

Brice Matthews hit a double and a home run for the Huskers returning to the lineup after Saturday's absence (Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics Communications)          e
Brice Matthews hit a double and a home run for the Huskers returning to the lineup after Saturday's absence (Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics Communications) e

Nebraska baseball (1-6) suffered a 5-3 loss to No. 17 TCU (6-1) on Sunday after loading the bases in the ninth inning. The game ended on a controversial call made by first-base umpire Michael Anderson who called Husker Griffin Everitt out at first base on a tight play. The decision drew Nebraska head coach Will Bolt out of the dugout and he was ejected soon after.

The Huskers bats remained frigid cold in the first and second innings Sunday afternoon as Horned Frog starter Brett Walker was a surgeon on the mound. TCU started strong with a pair of hits and a walk. Elijah Nunez was driven in by a single from David Bishop to give the Horned Frogs a 1-0 lead.

Nebraska came alive in the third inning with a stand-up double by Brice Matthews beginning the action. Matthews was out of the lineup Saturday and responded well once reinserted smashing two extra-base hits for the Huskers on the day. A single by Leighton Banjoff scored Matthews and evened the game at 1-1.

But, walks came back to hurt the Huskers again as Dawson McCarville gave up one in bottom of the inning. TCU capitalized with a double from Gray Rodgers and regained the lead 2-1. Then came the fifth inning.

McCarville had been solid for Nebraska working around traffic on the bases multiple times. Eventually, the Horned Frogs caught up with him. A triple, double and single for TCU turned a one-run game into a 5-1 advantage. McCarville's day was done and in came Emmett Olson from the bullpen.

Olson gave the Huskers what they needed and more. He allowed a walk on the first batter of the sixth inning but retired the next nine Horned Frogs. 1-2-3 innings in the seventh and eighth were critical in keeping Nebraska within striking distance.

Matthews sparked the Huskers again in the seventh with a solo shot to left field making it 5-2. The top half of the order got it done in the eighth starting with a Everitt single. Cam Chick came close to an extra-base hit of his own but instead flew out to leftfield. Everitt scored from third base and it was a 5-3 game.

Singles from Josh Caron and pinch-hitting Garrett Anglim had Nebraska in business for the top of the ninth. This time, Matthews couldn't deliver and neither could the freshman Gage Swansen. Banjoff singled to load the bases but then Everitt grounded out to third base on a disputed call ending the game.

Defensive improvement

Nebraska cleaned things up on the defensive end this weekend.

The Huskers had seven errors in the opening series with the Sam Houston Bearkats in their opening series. With TCU, the sole error came in the 4-1 loss on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, Nebraska played error-free baseball. Much of that could be accredited to an extra week of practice and more live-fielding opportunities.

But, the Huskers didn't just make the basic plays. They had plenty of highlights.

Matthews showed out with a diving save and throw to first in the third inning. Despite his struggles at the plate where he was 0-2, Core Jackson made several flashy plays of his own at second base. Lastly, Chick dove for a ball and made the snag in the seventh.

In the field, it seems that the Huskers took a step in the right direction this week.

Options: Olson and Frank

The starting pitching is a big issue for Nebraska heading into next weekend.

By far the biggest issue is consistency. Kyle Perry was great on Friday but only gave the Huskers 1.1 innings last week. Shay Schanaman produced four innings last week but only 1.1 against TCU. McCarville has been the most consistent Husker hurling four innings in each start but the 6.75 ERA isn't too attractive.

It seems unlikely that Bolt or pitching coach Jeff Christy would pull the plug this early but they would have options should they need them. Koty Frank was solid again this weekend going 3.2 innings and allowing one run. Olson was the reason why the Huskers had a chance to tie in the ninth Sunday, pitching four innings while allowing one hit.

Those two have certainly been dependable. Likely, one of those two will start the fourth game for Nebraska next weekend in place of Braxton Bragg who did not pitch against the Horned Frogs. The biggest downside would be removing two of the team's most steady pitchers from the bullpen. That would limit some options.

Christy and company still seem confident in Nebraska's current group. But a change in the starting rotation could be something to monitor if things continue to go haywire on the mound.

"There's not a lot of difference between this team and the one we ended the season against last year."
— Head coach Will Bolt

The ninth a reason for optimism   

Nebraska battled in the ninth.

The Huskers got two quick singles and Banjoff came in clutch with a two-out hit to load the bases. Everitt was just inches away from making it a 5-4 game. Due up after Everitt, Max Anderson.

Anderson had a difficult series going 2-11, but he was due. It would have still taken a lot for the Huskers to win but they fought back in a way they hadn't yet this season.

After being taken out of the starting lineup on Saturday, Matthews came back with a great Sunday. The Texas native went 2-4 with a double and a solo blast. Everitt had his best day of the year slapping three singles. The question for Nebraska to answer is if it can carry some of the days success into next weekend.

For a moment, it appeared the Huskers had their momentum back.

What's next?

The Huskers return to Arlington, Texas next week for two double headers against UT Arlington and Northwestern State. Nebraska will face Northwestern State first on Friday at 11 a.m. and then UT Arlington at 3 p.m. The schedule will be the same on Saturday.

All four games can be heard on the Husker Radio Network.