Nebraska joins March Madness with yet another walk-off win
The Nebraska baseball team (8-9) joined the madness in March with their third walk-off win in the past four games. Leighton Banjoff drove in two runs on a single in the bottom of the ninth to steal a win from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (10-10).
Kyle Perry got the start on the mound for NU and had a nightmare outing. In just 19 pitches, the lefty allowed two runs on two hits and exited the game with an apparent injury. Head coach, Will Bolt said after the game that Perry gave the dugout a look and said "something felt weird." The senior returned late last season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Koty Frank took to the hill and got the Big Red out of the inning with no further damage.
The Nebraska offense brought things back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run shot from Griffin Everitt.
The lead came and went for the Islanders as they scored on a sac fly in the second inning to go ahead 3-2. Nebraska tied things up at three with an error that scored Efry Cervantes. Texas A&M-CC put up a crooked number in the third with four hits, and the Huskers got one back in the bottom of the inning on a Josh Caron sac fly.
After the third inning, Jaxon Jelkin took over on the bump for NU and settled things down. After him and Chandler Benson put together three scoreless innings, the Big Red offense found a spark. In the bottom of the sixth, with two runners on base, Max Anderson drove in a run that forced a pitching change from the Islanders. Griffin Everitt then cleared the bases with a triple, and Brice Matthews hit a two-run homer to make things 9-6.
Sticking with the trend of this game, that lead didn't last long. In the next inning, Texas A&M-CC scored four to regain a 10-9 lead. Two more runs in the seventh that were charged to Tyler Martin gave the Islanders a 12-9 lead headed into the ninth.
Brice Matthews started the ninth off strong for Nebraska with a double and kept the hope alive as he scored on a wild pitch later in the inning. With one out, and two Huskers on, Core Jackson came in to pinch hit. The freshman doubled to score a run and put two in scoring position. Leighton Banjoff did the rest with a single to left field and NU snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Gritty over pretty
All negatives aside, this baseball team has found a way to grind out games. Although it may not be pretty, they all go in the win column. In the past four games, the Big Red have won with a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning in three of them.
In this game specifically, when their defense let the team down they found a way to bounce back with a couple big innings. From a five-run sixth inning to the four-run ninth, it was enough to walk away victorious.
Still some questions on defense
This game was ugly from a defensive perspective. NU saw one of their starting pitchers go down with an apparent injury in the first inning, and also gave up 12 runs. What makes the 12 runs even more ugly, is that only seven of them were earned. Griffin Everitt committed a catcher's interference in the third inning that led to three runs, and an error in the seventh inning could have avoided a handful of runs. In a game that used up a lot of the bullpen, the Husker defense didn't help out its pitchers all that much.
The Big Red will be back in Haymarket Park on Saturday and Sunday to finish out the weekend series against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Saturday's game will start at 2:05 p.m. and Sunday's at 12:05 p.m.
Both games can be streamed on Big Ten Plus, and heard on Husker Sports Radio Network.