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Suspended game saps Huskers' momentum in Game 1 loss

Ohio State's six-run fifth inning doomed Nebraska in the conclusion of Friday's game.
Ohio State's six-run fifth inning doomed Nebraska in the conclusion of Friday's game.

As junior pitcher Jake Hohensee headed to the mound Friday for his fourth inning of work, he got the dreaded signal from the home plate umpire. The game was being suspended for a rain delay just as the hard throwing right-hander was finding his groove.

Saturday, a six-run fifth inning and some offensive ineptitude doomed the Huskers in a 9-7 loss to Ohio State in Game 1 of a pseudo-doubleheader.

Shortly after 7:00 p.m. Friday night, the game was suspended and moved to Saturday with Nebraska (24-16-1) leading Ohio State 5-2. When the Huskers walked back on Nick Swisher Field for the conclusion of the game, all momentum from Friday looked to be completely gone.

Nebraska had the offense going on Friday, scoring one in the first, three in the second, and one in the fourth. Jake Meyers scored on an RBI groundout to take the 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Ohio State responded with two unearned runs on no hits in the bottom frame.

The Huskers snatched the lead right back in the second, adding three runs on a Zac Repinski RBI single, a Jake Schleppenbach RBI double, and a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. Hohensee downed seven straight batters before the fourth inning and Nebraska stretched its lead to 5-2 on a Scott Schreiber RBI groundout in the final frame prior to the suspension of play.

When the game resumed in the bottom of the fourth inning Saturday, sophomore pitcher Matt Waldron was able to Hohensee’s no-hit start alive, retiring the Buckeyes 1-2-3. But in the bottom of the fifth, Conner Pohl singled up the middle for Ohio State’s first hit of the game to start an onslaught.

Tre’ Gantt walked to load the bases with two outs and Jalen Washington started the scoring with an RBI single before Dominic Canzone’s bases-clearing double to snatch a 6-5 lead. A double and a single scored two more runs to put up a six spot in the frame and give Ohio State an 8-5 lead.

“This game throws all kinds of stuff at you, that’s part of the deal,” Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad said in his postgame interview on the Husker Sports Network. “We get two 0-2 pitches, didn’t execute, walk a guy, and we couldn’t get anybody out. Left a couple balls up and they got the big hits. Credit to them for getting the inning put together.”

Nebraska got one back in the seventh on an RBI groundout by Schreiber, but the Buckeyes snatched it right back with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to make it 9-6. The Huskers had a chance in the top of the ninth after scoring one on a throwing error, but closer Seth Kinker struck out two to get out of a jam with two on and no outs.

Game 2 of Saturday’s pseudo-doubleheader will feature senior pitcher Derek Burkamper against Ohio State senior Jake Post.

“He’s got to pound the zone,” Erstad said of Burkamper. “We’ve got to be able to mix against these guys. They’ll hit pitches up in the zone, but if we can execute and throw pitches out of the zone, they’re going to swing and miss a lot.

“We’ve got our hands full, but we’re going to have to turn the page and get ready to go.”

First pitch for Game 2 between Nebraska and Ohio State is set for shortly after 4:00 p.m. central time. Rain is expected to stay out of the area.