It was an up and down Easter Sunday for the Nebraska baseball team, but it ended on an extreme upswing, as the Huskers (22-12, 5-4) rallied from three runs down in the 9th inning to win the game 9-8 and take the series from Iowa (13-16, 4-5). Pat Kelly tied the game with a two-run triple, and Kale Kiser followed with a two-strike, walk-off single.
Head coach Darin Erstad was impressed with his team’s effort. “I’m not sure you can face much more adversity than we faced right there, and our guys responded against a very good closer, and I tip my hat to our players.” Erstad talked after Friday night’s loss to Iowa about the lack of belief by his team, but he thought his players showed him something today. Whether or not it’s the turning point in the season, he’s not willing to say. “Talk to me in two months… we can make a really cool story if we can use today to change our season… this was obviously a huge step in the right direction.”
Both clutch hits by Kelly and Kiser came with two strikes. After the game Kiser said that all three pitches thrown to him by Iowa closer, Nick Brown, were sliders, and Erstad said that the third pitch was probably one that should have been bounced in the dirt. The head coach was happy for Kiser, who has struggled getting hits this season.
Kash Kalkowski also had a nice day at the plate, going three for five with a RBI and a run scored. What may be lost in the excitement of the walkoff win is that Kalkowski led off the 9th with a base hit to right field. The rally started from there.
Zach Hirsch started off strong for the Huskers but couldn’t get through the 6th inning. Hirsch ended up allowing three runs in the game, and the Husker bullpen combination of Tyler King and Luke Bublitz combined to allow five runs to come across. An overlooked part of the game was the outing by Husker closer Travis Huber who threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, making the comeback possible. Huber picked up the victory and improves to 1-2 on the season.
*Coach Erstad mentioned that he liked the energy of his team. They obviously took a cue from their leader: in the top of the fifth inning there was a close play at first base, and Erstad, thinking that the Iowa runner was out, sprinted from the dugout to argue the call with umpire Mark Wagers. Erstad was animated in his discussion, but was not ejected from the game.
*It took a lot for Kiser to even be up in the 9th inning. He was hitting in Cory Burleson’s spot, who was pinch hit for by Blake Headley in the 8th inning. Kiser came in to play left field, and the Huskers ended up batting six men in the 9th to get to Kiser.
*On Easter the attendance was down from the previous two games of the series, as 2,989 fans saw the game. There were 4,000+ for each of the first two games.
Those who did not come to the game missed a great finish, but the Huskers will be at home once again on Tuesday as they host in-state rival Creighton for the first of three matchups this season against the Bluejays. Nebraska will send sophomore Jon Keller (3-1, 4.17) to the mound, after he was demoted from the weekend rotation and replaced by Brandon Pierce. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. from Hawks Field.
- Josh Harvey -