Six-run seventh lifts Huskers over Rutgers
Nebraska rallied with six runs in the bottom of the seventh to open play at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament with a 9-7 win against fifth-seeded Rutgers on Wednesday afternoon in Omaha.
Nebraska (32-21-1) had nine runs on seven hits and an error, while Rutgers (33-22) posted seven runs on nine hits.
Emmett Olson pitched 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and a trio of walks. Corbin Hawkins, Shay Schanaman and Kyle Perry teamed up to throw the next 2.2 innings. The Husker trio combined to allow four runs, two earned, on three hits and three walks. Will Walsh improved to 4-3 on the season after dealing 1.2 shutout innings with one hit.
Max Anderson, Charlie Fischer and Ben Columbus pieced together two-hit games at the plate for the Huskers. Fischer went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, while Anderson was 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs. Columbus added a pair of singles, and Swansen went 1-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and two runs.
The Husker offense went to work early, plating three runs on two hits in the bottom of the first. Anderson reached on an infield single that was originally called out but was overturned on a coach’s challenge. Swansen followed by drawing a walk to place runners on first and second with two outs.
Fischer broke the scoreless tie by depositing a first-pitch three-run homer into the Nebraska bullpen in left to give the Huskers a quick lead in the first.
Olson worked around a single and a walk in the second to strike out the side in the top of the second to keep Rutgers off the board.
Nebraska loaded the bases in the bottom of the third after Swansen was plunked, Fischer singled through the right side and Columbus drew two-out walk, but the Huskers couldn’t capitalize to tack on to the lead.
Rutgers locked the game at three with a trio of runs on two hits in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back walks and a sacrifice fly plated the Scarlet Knights’ first run of the day. Evan Sleight lined a two-RBI double into the alley in right-center to tie the game.
The Scarlet Knights posted their second three-run inning of the game to jump ahead 6-3 in the seventh. A single, NU fielding error and a walk loaded the bases for Rutgers with one out. Sleight was hit by pitch to make it a 4-3 game, while Cameron Love drew a walk to double the lead to two.
Andy Axelson capped the scoring in the top of the seventh with a sacrifice fly to right, giving the Scarlet Knights a 6-3 lead.
Nebraska responded immediately in the bottom of the seventh, scoring six runs on three hits to jump ahead 9-6. The Huskers opened the inning with Casey Burnham being hit by pitch and a double down the left-field line by Anderson. Swansen tied the game at six with a 402-foot three-run blast over the wall in left-center.
Columbus reached on a two-out single to right, followed by three consecutive walks to Dylan Carey, Cole Evans and Brice Matthews to give the Huskers a 7-6 lead. Burnham was plunked for the second time in the inning to score Carey, while Anderson drew a full-count walk to score Evans and grow the lead to 9-6 through seven.
After being hit by pitch twice in the seventh, Burnham has been plunked 21 times this season, which is tied for third-most in a single-season by a Husker.
A walk and a one-out double had runners on second and third for the Scarlet Knights in the top of the eighth. Ryan Lasko’s RBI single to left brought Rutgers within two before a game-changing 5-4-3 double play ended the rally.
Walsh retired the first two batters in the ninth before surrendering a two-out single. The Leawood, Kan., native induced a lineout with the tying run at the plate to clinch Nebraska’s 9-7 win on Wednesday afternoon.
Nebraska advances to face top-seeded Maryland tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha. Single-day tickets are available at www.huskers.com/bigtenbaseball.