Nebraska canceled the baseball and softball games scheduled for Sunday due to weather. Husker baseball was set to finish its series against Iowa, while the softball team was set to close out against Purdue.
The baseball team split a doubleheader Friday with Iowa, losing the first game 7-1 before rebounding to take the second 10-4. They return to action Tuesday at home against Kansas State at 6:35 p.m. NU currently sits 11th in the Big Ten with a 3-7 conference record.
The softball team took both games of its Friday doubleheader with Purdue. The Huskers won Game 1 in eight innings, 8-7, then run-ruled the Boilermakers, 10-1, in Game 2. NU is fourth in the Big Ten at 8-5 and travels to third-place Minnesota next weekend.
Matt Waldron retires last dozen hitters, offense peppers three homers to give Huskers split
LINCOLN — Nebraska began a rare Friday doubleheader by flashing the inconsistencies that have made this spring so maddening. It finished with a nightcap that insisted these Huskers still have something to play for.
Nebraska grounded into four double plays and recorded just three hits after the third inning in a 7-1 Iowa victory on a sunny early afternoon at Haymarket Park. By the time the sun set and the temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees, the Huskers were high-fiving a 10-4 triumph powered by three home runs and seven strong innings by starter Matt Waldron.
“We might not be very good, but the boys are going to fight,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “There’s no doubt about it. We make some silly mistakes, but there’s a lot of heart in that dugout and they’re going to battle to the bitter end, whatever that is.”
NU (16-17, 3-7 Big Ten) and Iowa (21-11, 6-4) are scheduled to complete their series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The second half of the twin bill provided some individual redemption for shortstop Angelo Altavilla, who homered twice after logging just two extra-base hits and no home runs in his first 28 games started this spring. He and designated hitter Jesse Wilkening each swatted two-out, two-run homers in the third inning before Altavilla’s solo blast to right in the fifth extended the Huskers’ lead to 5-3.
Altavilla, a junior, hadn’t played in nearly two weeks while recovering from a hamstring injury. His season before Friday had not been exactly memorable, with the Lakeville, Minnesota, product hitting just .211.
“It’s definitely been frustrating,” Altavilla said. “The hamstring thing was something I wasn’t expecting either and it’s just been kind of up and down. But I’m taking that week off last week as kind of hopefully it’s a blessing in disguise. I think I got off to a great start.”
Said Erstad: “A little break for Angelo, calm him down a little bit, just reset. He did a really nice job.”
Waldron retired the final 12 hitters he faced to punctuate his stellar effort. The junior right-hander from Omaha Westside didn’t strand a runner in his start, allowing a pair of homers and having his lone walk erased by a double play. He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 24 batters and struck out four across 108 pitches.
“We knew we had to really get one today,” said Waldron, who added that throwing in warm weather after two starts in frigid temps helped with his better velocity and command.
A four-run seventh ensured the split. Luke Roskam laced an RBI double, Alex Henwood brought in a run on a groundout and Gunner Hellstrom dunked a double to right to bring home two more. Jaxon Hallmark added an RBI groundout in the eighth.
Iowa starter Brady Schanuel lasted three-plus innings after striking out five batters in the first two frames. Each of the next four relievers walked at least one and were charged with at least one run.
The Hawkeyes struck first when right fielder Robert Neustrom connected for his sixth homer of the year to right. Catcher Tyler Cropley sent a fly ball onto the berm past left field for a two-run shot in the fourth.
But Waldron otherwise handcuffed the Hawkeyes throughout, inducing 10 flyouts and six ground-ball outs. Paul Tillotson and Mike Waldron closed out the victory, with Iowa’s Kyle Crowl – a Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln graduate — guiding a solo homer to right-center with two outs in the ninth.
Scott Schreiber extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning double. Hellstrom — a freshman making his fifth career start and second at catcher — reached base in all four of his plate appearances out of the No. 9 spot. Erstad said Hellstrom wasn’t slotted to start Game 2 initially but moved in after shortstop Zac Luckey couldn’t go with an injured groin.
As has so often been the case this spring, Nebraska couldn’t put everything together in the opener of their fourth Big Ten Conference series. The fielding was decent enough — two errors didn’t do any damage — and the bullpen kept the Huskers close before a three-run Iowa eighth.
But the offense struggled to get anything off Iowa lefty Nick Allgeyer, who tied a career-best with seven innings while scattering five hits and four walks along with four strikeouts. NU managed just one hit off the junior — who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery — in the last four frames.
Nebraska had a chance for more runs in the first inning when an error, Scott Schreiber’s single and Jesse Wilkening’s RBI hit led to runners at second and third with no outs. But two strikeouts and a groundout — Crowl made an acrobatic play at short on a Hellstrom roller deep in the hole — stymied the threat.
The Huskers finished 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position overall and grounded into double plays in the third, fourth and fifth innings. They put two runners on with one away in the sixth but followed with a strikeout and groundout and didn’t threaten the rest of the way.
NU starter Luis Alvarado loaded the bases in the second inning with a pair of walks and a single, then Iowa tied the score 1-1 on a wild pitch. The senior righty came out with 77 pitches and one out in the fourth — the shortest of his nine career starts — and No. 9 hitter Mitchell Boe greeted reliever Jake McSteen with a bouncing double into right field that plated two runs to make it 3-1. Boe finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
Iowa added runs in the eighth on Boe’s RBI single and run-scoring doubles by Chris Whelan and Sioux City North product Robert Neustrom. Justin Jenkins capped the scoring with an RBI double in the ninth.
Luke Roskam was the only Husker with two hits and the bottom four spots in the NU lineup against struggled, going a combined 3 for 13 with three walks.
Altavilla said landing a split was the least Nebraska could do as it attempts to rebound from a frustrating start to the year.
“This is a big one just because you don’t want to dig yourself a big hole,” Altavilla said. “Iowa’s a pretty good team and it’s a big rivalry two games. It was nice to come out here and put it to them that second game.”
After walk-off in opener, Nebraska softball starts next game with 10-run first inning
LINCOLN — After surviving a scare to win the first game of Friday’s doubleheader 8-7 on a walk-off hit batter, Nebraska roared to a 10-1, five-inning victory over Purdue to earn a sweep of the Big Ten doubleheader.
The Huskers needed an extra inning to get the win in the opener at Bowlin Stadium. Second baseman Laura Barrow led off the eighth inning with a single , shortstop Tristen Edwards was intentionally walked and first baseman Madi Unzicker also walked to load the bases with one out.
Designated player Olivia Ferrell then was hit by a two-out pitch from Purdue’s Kaitlynn Moody to force Barrow home with the winning run. Edwards was 4 for 4 with one run, two RBIs and a walk; Barrow had two hits and three runs scored, while center fielder Taylor Otte added two hits and a run.
Nebraska ace Kaylan Jablonski (21-9) earned both wins. She pitched six innings and gave up four runs on six hits in the opener before limiting the Boilermakers (11-31, 3-8) to three singles in four innings in the second game.
Jablonski hit a first-inning grand slam put the Huskers ahead 4-0 in the second game. Nebraska sent 14 batters to the plate in the first while building a 10-0 lead. The grand slam came after Purdue starter Sydney Bates walked Alyvia Simmons, Barrow and Edwards to start the inning.
Successive singles by Unzicker, Otte and Lexey Kneib brought Ferrell to the plate. The freshman from Elkhorn South drove in her second run of the day after being hit by a pitch. Simmons’ single and Edwards’ double scored four more runs.
The teams are scheduled to play the third game of the series at noon Sunday. The doubleheader was played Friday in anticipation of the inclement weather conditions expected to hit the Lincoln area Saturday.
Purdue……………013 102 00—7 9 0
At Nebraska…….130 030 01—8 12 1
W: Kaylan Jablonski (20-9). L: Kaitlynn Moody (7-16). 2B: N, Madi Unzicker, Olivia Ferrell. 3B: N, Alyvia Simmons. HR: P, Alexa Binckes, Emily Kenny.
Purdue (11-31, 3-8)…………..000 10— 1 4 0
At Nebraska (30-14, 8-5)…….(10)00 0x—10 8 0
W: Kaylan Jablonski (21-9). L: Sydney Bates (4-12). 2B: N, Tristen Edwards. HR: N, Jablonski. A: 667