Nebraska baseball falls 8-6 to Michigan, evening the series 1-1
baseball Edit

Nebraska baseball falls 8-6 to Michigan, evening the series 1-1

Freshman Luke Jessen went 2-4 with a triple and two RBIs on Saturday. (Nebraska Athletic Communications)
Freshman Luke Jessen went 2-4 with a triple and two RBIs on Saturday. (Nebraska Athletic Communications)

After a furious rally in the eighth inning, Nebraska baseball (9-12) couldn't sustain its momentum into the ninth inning. The Michigan Wolverines (12-10) capitalized on an error, single, walk and double to take a 8-6 lead and hand the Huskers their first conference defeat.

Nebraska starter Shay Schanaman played with poise in the first inning working through the Michigan batters in order. But, the Huskers went quietly in the bottom half despite a one-out walk from Cam Chick. In the second, Michigan drew first blood just as they had done Friday night.

The damage came with two outs off the bat of No. 8 hitter Jordon Rogers who put a double off the wall in right field. The two RBIs for Rogers were the ninth and 10th runs of the weekend by Michigan with two outs. After Nebraska went 1-2-3 to end the second, the Wolverines held a 2-0 lead.

The Huskers worked their way back in during the third when a two-out single from Luke Sartori gave Nebraska its first hit of the game. Brice Matthews brought in Sartori with a single to make it 2-1. In the fourth Schanaman struck out three, including the final out, leaving two Wolverines stranded in scoring position.

Nebraska added another run in the bottom of the frame with a triple placed just over the center fielder's reach by freshman Luke Jessen. That tied the game at 2-2 and Schanaman had his strongest inning of the day in the fifth needing just eight pitches to close it out.

The Wolverines got to the Grand Island native in the sixth with two deep shots. First it was Ted Burton who sent a ball beyond the right-field fence. A walk and a fielder's choice later, Tito Flores bombed a ball to right center for a two-run shot and putting Michigan ahead 5-2.

Nebraska got one back on a Garrett Anglim single in the sixth but Frey delivered for the Wolverines in the seventh with a RBI base hit of his own. The Huskers stormed back in the eighth with three runs on four hits. Sparked by Max Anderson's RBI double, the Huskers tied the game at 6-6 on a bloop single from Core Jackson against the shift.

The ninth began well for the Huskers with a pop out. Anderson made up for an error at third base by snagging a pop out in foul territory for the second out. But a single and a walk later, the bases were loaded with Emmett Olson on the mound and cleanup-hitter Jimmy Obertop at the plate. He crushed a 0-2 pitch to deep left scoring two.

Nebraska failed to get a base runner in their final chance to tie the game and Michigan came away with the victory.

"It came down to one swing and their guy put a good swing on there late and that was the ballgame."
— Head coach Will Bolt

Two-out hitting

Michigan has been excellent this series at the plate with two outs.

On Saturday the Wolverines hit 6-15 (.400) with two outs. They scored five of their eight runs with two outs. It has been a sticking point for Nebraska's defense and a crown jewel for the Michigan offense not only Saturday but all series.

Michigan in two games in Lincoln has hit 18-36 (.500) with two outs. Of the 17 total runs scored during the weekend, the Wolverines have driven in 13 when down to their final out. Add in a 6-15 day at the plate with runners on base and it's a recipe for a potent offense.

Nebraska hasn't been awful this weekend in these categories. The Huskers have nine two-out RBIs of 19 total runs and are hitting 6-23 (.261) with two outs. Again not terrible, but in the final game of the weekend the Huskers will need to work to get the final out if they want to claim the series.

Underclassmen and consistency

Consistency has been an ongoing theme this weekend.

Nebraska is hoping to find it. At the plate, in the field or on the mound it has seemed elusive through the first twenty games of the season. In some ways, the Huskers have taken steps forward this weekend. In others, they haven't.

Nebraska used the same starting lineup in back-to-back games for just the second time this season. It produced similar in its second run. The Huskers found themselves down by three or more runs for the second time in as many games on Saturday and came back to tie the game.

The rally saw production from a number of areas but the ninth inning was a reminder that Nebraska is still looking for the stability it's missing. Errors in the top half and strikeouts in the bottom half spelled doom on Saturday. Part of the reason it is has been difficult to deliver game in and game out is youth.

In Saturday's lineup, the Huskers had six underclassmen. Those six batters went 7-24 (.291) and brought in all six of Nebraska's RBIs. They also accounted for the single error in the ninth. Jessen, Anglim and Jackson all had good days. Jessen knocked in two runs with a triple and a RBI single.

Over time, the experience will come and with it consistency.

What's next

Nebraska closes out the weekend with one final game with Michigan. The rubber match will be played at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. The game will be televised on BTN and can be heard on the Huskers Radio Network.