Offense explodes in middle innings as Huskers take game one of doubleheader
The Nebraska bats got going in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings and the Huskers took advantage of a sterling start from lefty pitcher Jake Meyers to take game one of Saturday’s doubleheader 6-5 over Cal Poly.
Angelo Altavilla and Scott Schreiber had multi-hit games to help the Huskers go off for six runs in the middle innings. Meyers let go of three runs, but scattered just four hits over eight full innings in his longest start of the season, striking out five. The Mustangs provided a scare in the bottom of the ninth but were unable to complete the comeback.
Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad was particularly pleased with the offensive output on the day, a whole-team effort that produced six doubles and six runs.
"We just started using the whole field," Erstad said in his postgame radio show on the Husker Sports Network. "When you do that, you give yourself a chance. It's just a matter of getting that in their minds early on and not having to make adjustments mid-game. We just get a little too excited and want to pull off some balls, but overall we found a way."
After failing to get a runner on base the first time through the lineup, the Huskers got their first hit on a double by Altavilla to start a string of four straight batters reaching second base. Two runs came in to score in the fourth inning before an infield hit from Altavilla brought in Brison Cronenbold in the fifth.
Cal Poly freshman Scott Ogrin got the scoring started for Cal Poly in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run home run that broke a 25.2-inning scoreless streak for Nebraska All-American Jake Meyers. Ogrin’s home run after Bradlee Beesley’s leadoff double cut the Nebraska lead to 3-2 after five innings.
But the Huskers got it going once again in the top of the sixth. After sophomore right hander Craig Colen replaced starter Bobby Ay on the mound, Nebraska batters got off to a quick start with a Schreiber double, a Luis Alvarado single, and a Luke Roskam RBI double that gave the Huskers a 4-2 lead.
Sophomore Austin Dondanville replaced Colen on the mound, but was unable to limit the damage with runners on second and third and no outs. A sacrifice fly by Cronenbold and a throwing error by Cal Poly second baseman Brett Binning made it a 6-2 game in the top of the sixth.
Ogrin added his third RBI of the day on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth, but the Mustangs were unable to get anything else on Meyers, who picked up his fourth win of the year.
However, the result wasn’t certain after the lefty stepped off the mound. Alvarado replaced Meyers in the ninth, but struggled for the first time this year, letting go of two runs to make it a 6-5 game. With Friday’s hero, Nick Meyer, at the plate, Alvarado forced a pop fly to center field, and the game was fittingly retired by a catch from Meyers. Alvarado picked up his third save of the season, limiting the Huskers to two pitchers used in the game.
"He's going to have to learn how to go through that," Erstad said of Alvarado, who gave up his first earned runs of the season. "You can see how the games are going to be played here. The fans are into it, their team's not going to quit, and it's just going to be a good game. There's a lot of things involved with it, and you've got to find your way through it, and (Alvarado) did."
Nebraska and Cal Poly face off in the final game of the series later Saturday afternoon. True freshman Connor Curry will get the start in the contest. A win would guarantee Nebraska a winning non-conference record in 2017 and would give the Huskers a victory in their first true road series of the season.