Nebraska (9-7) couldn’t get the offense rolling and couldn’t stop making mistakes in the field during its 6-3 loss to Northern Colorado (11-5) on Tuesday afternoon.
NU pitcher Matt Waldron has struggled to be as effective as he was during his freshman campaign and he hasn’t had the best start to this season. He’s allowed 27 hits in 14.2 innings pitched so far this season and the struggles continued on Tuesday afternoon. Northern Colorado’s senior second baseman Cole Maltese was able to clobber a homerun to right field to give the Bears a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first.
Despite throwing 48 pitches in the first two innings, Waldron was able to show some fight during his start today as he left eight Bears batters on base.
Waldron (1-1, 4.30 ERA, 9 K) finished with two strikeouts, one earned run and allowed six hits in 4.0 IP. Freshman Keegan Watson (3.2 IP, 17.18 ERA, 2 K) came in to replace him.
Watson’s outing didn’t last long as he walked two batters and allowed a single to get the bases-loaded with one out. Junior Ethan Frazier came in to replace Watson.
Junior shortstop Tyler Yamaguchi was able to reach first on a fielder’s choice, but NU senior Brison Cronenbold had a throwing error that allowed two Northern Colorado players to score and give them a 3-0 lead over the Huskers.
“That’s too much,” head coach Darin Erstad said. “They made some good pitches and counts. They were off-speed and we were trying to pull the count too much and you get yourself in trouble.”
Nebraska got an opportunity in the bottom of the sixth when Bear senior relief pitcher Justin Mulvaney walked two batters and hit junior DH Jesse Wilkening to get the bases-loaded with no outs. That’s when sophomore catcher Luke Roskam stepped up and hit a two-RBI single to right field to cut the Northern Colorado lead to one. Senior first baseman and pitcher Luis Alvarado grounded into a double-play, but that allowed junior third baseman Angelo Altavilla to tie the game up.
It was a game in the field to forget for Cronenbold, who is usually a sure-handed defensive player. He had three errors in the field that led to three runs for the Bears. Nebraska is up to 20 errors on the season.
“We just didn’t get take care of the ball,” senior outfielder Scott Schreiber said. “You’re going to have games like that, but it was just a sloppy game and it’s hard to find any positives.”
The self-inflicted damage didn’t stop there as freshman relief pitcher Paul Tillotson threw a wild pitch in the ninth inning that allowed the Bears to extend their lead 5-3. Tillotson followed that up with a passed ball after a strikeout that gave Northern Colorado a 6-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
NU just couldn’t get the offense rolling today as nobody other than Schreiber had a hit until the sixth inning. NU was walked four different times to start off four innings, but couldn’t take advantage of opportunities. Despite that, Nebraska had their chance to come back late, but left five runners on base during the seventh and eighth innings.
“If you play like that, you’re usually going to end up on the losing side,” Schreiber said.
The Huskers return to action on Wednesday afternoon in Haymarket Park at 1:35 p.m with junior Mike Waldron (0-1, 4.50 ERA, 6.0 IP, 2 K) starting at the mound.
“We let a lead-off walk in the fifth, eighth, ninth and they took advantage of it, so credit to them. They did a good job of making pitches and mixing when they had to when we had guys on-base. They beat us,” Erstad said.
Junior catcher Jesse Wilkening has been dealing with some shoulder soreness according to Erstad. He has been playing DH for precautionary reasons. We didn’t receive a timetable for when he would return to his catching duties.
Senior outfielder Scott Schreiber crossed the 200 hit mark after his third hit today. He is the 26th Husker to achieve that milestone.