SURPRISE, Ariz. – Despite some early positive signs, it was another long day for the Huskers at the ballpark, falling to Oregon State 8-3 as the Beavers completed their sweep of NU.
Oregon State starter Grant Gambrell sent the Huskers packing 1-2-3 in the top of the first. Then in the bottom half of the inning, Colby Gomes allowed two consecutive hits after recording his first out of the morning. Already with a runner on third, Gomes threw a wild pitch, advancing one of Major League Baseball’s top prospects, Adley Rutschman, to second.
Gomes, a freshman, responded well though, getting the next two batters to pop out and ground out, getting himself out of the jam.
The Huskers got things going offensively in the next frame. Aaron Palensky’s double down the left field line helped to set up the Husker’s first lead of the series.
The next batter, Gunner Hellstrom, put the ball in play which got Palesnky to third, allowing Big 10 player of the week Jaxon Hallmark to drive him in on a sacrifice fly.
However, the lead wouldn’t hold. In the bottom of the second, Gomes immediately recorded an out, but wound up walking two batters after not allowing a single walk last weekend. With one out, the Beavers opened the game wide open, scoring five runs on four hits.
Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad made the call to the bullpen after the fifth run came across, yanking the righty from Millard West in favor of another freshman, Shay Schanaman out of Grand Island.
Schanaman was able to stop the bleeding and get NU out of the inning, but the damage had been done. The Beavers led 5-1 heading into the third.
It was a quiet third inning for both teams. Joe Acker hit a single but the Huskers were unable to generate any more offense after that. Oregon State also came up empty in the inning, as Schanaman’s replacement, Reece Eddins, mowed through the bottom third of Oregon State’s lineup.
With Eddins dealing, Nebraska began to make things interesting, at least for a brief while. Mojo Hagge drew a walk to begin the fourth. Palensky got his second hit of the day on a base hit to left, getting Hagge over to second. Hellstrom grounded out to second in a sacrifice which allowed Hagge to advance to third base. Hallmark was next. He struck out looking but Cam Chick ripped one up the middle to drive in both Palensky and Hagge to halve the Beaver’s lead, 5-3.
Eddins was excellent in relief, striking out five batters and giving up just one hit in three innings pitched. Matt Waldron took over in the bottom of the sixth, coming off of an appearance last weekend where he struck out seven in five scoreless innings pitched against UC Riverside.
Waldron was unable to repeat the success he had against the Highlanders though, giving up a two run shot in the first half inning he pitched, extending Oregon State’s advantage to four, to make it 7-3.
The Beavers got another run across on an error in the seventh with Waldron still on the mound to make it 8-3. That’s what the final score would be, as Nebraska came up empty in both the eighth and ninth to hand undefeated Oregon State their 8th win of the season.
Although Erstad maintained during his post-game interview on the Husker Sports Network that he believed his team had a lot of fight in them, he didn’t see it Sunday afternoon.
“It seems like right now we’re in the mode where if it’s convenient to fight, you fight,” Erstad said. “But when you get the big bad wolf you’re facing… I don’t know if we’re ready for that next step but that’s the next step we’re going to have to take.”
With only one series under their belt, the Husker’s ran into a roadblock against the defending national champions.
“It’s one thing to talk about what you’re going to face, but until you actually see what it looks like on a national level, you’re not going to get anything across to them,” Erstad said of his team.
Palensky was 2-4 and scored 2 runs on the day. Cam Chick was 1-4 with 2 RBIs and Joe Acker went 3-4. The Huskers committed two errors and had a total of eight hits.
Brandon Eisert of Oregon State was awarded the win. He’s now 4-0 on the season. Gomes was tagged with the loss, falling to 0-1 on the year.
With the loss, Nebraska is now 3-5 overall. Next, they’ll take on Texas Tech in Frisco, Texas for their opening game of the Frisco College Baseball Classic.