Huskers pummel Knights in 9-3 series-clinching win
Nebraska (28-16-1, 11-5-1) used a dominating and versatile offense for a 9-2 win to clinch the home-series against Rutgers (17-27, 5-9) on Saturday afternoon at Haymarket Park
Sophomore shortstop Angelo Altavilla and junior DH Scott Schreiber got things started for the Huskers with back-to-back singles. Senior first baseman Ben Miller followed that up with a RBI single up the middle that scored Altavilla.
Junior center fielder Jake Meyers continued his great play as he started off the third with a single to right field. Meyers proceeded to steal second base and moved to 18-for-18 on steal attempts this season. Meyers advanced to third thanks to a Schreiber ground out and scored when Miller’s fly ball was dropped in center field.
Nebraska broke the game open in the fourth inning. Junior left fielder Luis Alvarado and freshman right fielder Mojo Hagge hit back-to-back singles and gained an extra base thanks to a fielding error by Rutgers. Senior Jesse Wilkening got hit by a pitch and senior second baseman Jake Schleppenbach was able to single up the middle and bring home Alvarado.
Meyers reached base on a fielder’s choice to shortstop, but scored Hagge. Altavilla followed up by hitting a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Wilkening. Freshman third baseman Luke Roskam hit a long shot to center field that was dropped by Rutgers left fielder Mike Martinez, allowing Meyers and Schreiber to score.
“Meyers has done a real nice job of using the whole field," head coach Darin Erstad said when asked about the top three batters. "Angelo (Altavilla) has struggled the last couple weeks, but he’s using the whole field. Schreiber is using the whole field. Those guys are doing a nice job with their approach.”
Scarlet Knight sophomore starting pitcher Serafino Brito (3-8, 4.91 ERA) didn’t have the best of days. He pitched four innings, allowing four earned runs off of nine hits and only struck out three. His defense didn’t give him much backup, as they had three errors in the first four innings. He now falls to 3-8 on the season.
The Rutgers offense came to life in the top of the sixth as senior right fielder Tom Marcinczyk singled up the middle. Sophomore center fielder Jawaun Harris hit a two-run homer to right field that just went off the glove of Hagge and lead was cut to five. It was Harris’ team-leading eighth home run of the year.
NU responded with a couple runs of its own in the bottom of the sixth. Altavilla and Schreiber walked and Miller singled up the middle to bring home Altavilla. Following back-to-back strikeouts, Hagge ripped one to right field and brought home Schreiber.
Huskers senior pitcher Derek Burkamper (4-4, 3.78 ERA) earned his fourth win of the season, tying his season-high with five strikeouts. He pitched 6.1 innings, allowed eight hits and two runs.
“Sometimes he has a tough time repeating his starts. He had a huge start last week for us,” Erstad said. “Rutgers is good early in games and we had to be sure to set the tone. He was sharp right out of the gate, it was just huge and it’s a credit to Derek.”
The Huskers return to action Sunday afternoon as they look to complete their first Big Ten series sweep of the season. First pitch from Jake Meyers is set for 12:05 p.m.
When asked about what he took away from the game, Erstad shrugged it off.
“I’m already over it," he said. "It’s not going to get us anything tomorrow. We need to go earn everything tomorrow.”