Wilkening powers Huskers past B1G leader in 9-4 win
The Nebraska (23-15-1, 7-4-1) baseball team used early offense and a two-run home run by sophomore catcher Jesse Wilkening to secure an 9-4 victory over Minnesota (23-12,8-4) Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis.
NU used a variety of weapons as five Huskers recorded two or more hits, including three from Wilkening.
NU was off and running in the second inning, as they started with back-to-back singles from juniors Scott Schreiber and Luis Alvarado. The string of hits continued as freshman Luke Roskam doubled into center field that allowed Schreiber to score.
The offensive star of the game was Wilkening, who was 3-of-5 with a two-run home run and three RBI. The two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning gave NU a 5-0 advantage.
“When Wilkening hit that two-run shot and you’re up 5-0 you’re feeling pretty good,” head coach Darin Erstad said in his postgame radio show.
Junior Jake Meyers (6-1, 2.91 ERA) started off the game strong as he only allowed one hit through the first three innings. Although, the Gophers weren’t going to go away easy. Minnesota got back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the fourth and this was followed up by back-to-back home runs as they cut the lead to 5-4 going into the fifth.
“The first time through the lineup those guys didn’t know what was going on,” Erstad said. “He got behind a couple guys and was up in the zone a little bit. You hear them talking about the angle of the pitches and what they are looking for.”
Meyers ended his day with five strikeouts, no walks and allowed 10 hits and four earned runs.
“That’s why it’s a team game. We got to pick him up because he’s picked us up a ton this year.”
Nebraska went this weekend without committing an error and this was not unnoticed by Erstad as he continued to praise the team’s ability to play efficient defense.
“(Jake) Schleppenbach had a tough weekend at the plate and he could have easily taken that to the field,” Erstad said. “You can help teams win in many ways and Schleppenbach does that pretty much on a daily basis.”
NU scored three insurance runs in the ninth inning thanks to a Minnesota error that allowed senior Ben Miller and Schreiber to score. After a Roskam strikeout, freshman Mojo Hagge got in on the action as he singled down the right side that allowed Alvarado to score.
NU sophomore reliever Chad Luesnmann entered the game with one out in the eighth inning and didn’t give up a hit in the five batters he faced. Luesnmann earned his sixth save of the year.
Nebraska returns to action on Tuesday when the Omaha Mavericks (9-29) make the trip to Hawks field at 6:35 C.T.
“I think they understand the identity of this team,” Erstad said. “They know they can't just roll in and win the game. We have to play at a pretty high level and when we do that we are okay.”