Huskers thrash NJIT to advance to regional final
The Nebraska baseball team (33-13) took down NJIT (27-24) in dominant fashion 18-4 to advance to its first regional final since 2007. The Huskers will play Arkansas later today and a win will see them matchup once more on Monday, but a loss will send them home.
Shay Schanaman got the start on the mound for the Big Red and knew he would have to go deep to keep other arms fresh. The junior did just that going seven full innings giving up just four hits for two runs. Following him up was Caleb Feekin who pitched one inning also giving up two runs. Braxton Bragg closed out the game for NU with nothing allowed and striking out one.
While there was solid pitching, the story was on the offensive side for Nebraska. The Huskers started fast with Joe Acker leading off with a triple to start the game. He was driven in by Luke Roskam on a fielder's choice to take a 1-0 lead. The Big Red doubled the lead in the third inning when Acker hit a solo home run to add another hit to his tally.
After Schanaman allowed a run in the fourth to make things 2-1, the offense exploded with eight runs in the bottom of the fourth. Two free bases to start the inning and five singles, a double and a home run made it 10-2 in a seven hit inning.
The bats didn't cool down in the next inning and a couple more free bases followed by a single, two doubles and a home run from Brice Matthews made the score 16-2. In the matter of just two innings, NU had recorded 11 hits for 14 runs to take a commanding lead.
Things started to settle down later as the two teams traded runs in the seventh inning. In the eighth inning, the Highlanders put up two runs and Nebraska answered with one of their own. Braxton Bragg was able to lock things down on the mound for the Huskers in the ninth and secure another shot at the top-ranked Razorbacks.
Saving the pen
Shay Schanaman going seven innings is exactly what the Big Red needed out of their starter a situation like this. NU had used nine different pitchers prior to this matchup, so it needed to conserve the bullpen for a possible rematch with Arkansas. The junior not only went seven innings deep, but he also only allowed two runs on four hits, making things easier for the offense. Going into tonight's game, Nebraska will start Kyle Perry knowing they still have some arms they can go to in the bullpen.
While the pitching staff did their job well, they were getting plenty of help from their offense. The Huskers broke the game open in the fourth inning, and doubled down in the fifth. Joe Acker led the way, going 4-5 with a home run, a triple and two singles, just a double shy of hitting the cycle. As a team the offense put together 19 hits, a season high as well as 18 runs which was a season high. In a game that it needed to win to stay alive, NU dominated to make things easier for the matchup with the Razorbacks tonight.
The Big Red will play Arkansas tonight at 8:00 p.m. CST. A win will see them matchup again tomorrow, but a loss will end their season.
The game can be seen on ESPNU and heard on Husker Sports Network.