Huskers Walk Past Minnesota, 6-4
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A dropped pop up opened the door, and Nebraska walked right through it, scoring five times in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally for a 6-4 win over Minnesota in the first game of a Saturday afternoon twinbill at Hawks Field.
Nebraska, which has won four straight games to improve to 9-4 on the season, had just five hits on the day, but took advantage of four Golden Gopher walks, two errors and a hit batter in the frame to overcome a three-run deficit in the seven-inning contest.
Nebraska trailed 4-1 with two on and two outs when pinch hitter Leighton Banjoff lofted a 2-0 pitch into foul territory down the left field line, but the ball was misplayed by Minnesota left fielder Andrew Wilhite, giving NU a chance to extend the frame. Banjoff kept the inning alive by coaxing a walk from Minnesota starter Jack Liffrig to load the bases, ending the Gopher starter’s afternoon after 5.2 innings.
The walks would continue against Minnesota reliever Ryan Duffy (0-2), as he walked Logan Foster on four pitches before Joe Acker’s walk pushed across another run to make it 4-3. Jaxson Hallmark’s grounder was booted by UM third baseman Jack Wassel, allowing Banjoff to scamper home with the tying run. Spencer Schwellenbach then put the Huskers up 5-4 with NU’s third walk of the frame against Duffy before Nolan Burchill hit Cam Chick to push across the final run.
Schwellenbach closed the door with a scoreless seventh for his third save of the season, giving Cam Wynne (1-0) his first victory as a Husker.
Duffy, who walked three of the four batters he faced, fell to 0-2 on the season. The loss spoiled a strong effort from Liffrig, who had allowed one run on three hits in the first five frames before consecutive one-out singles from Max Anderson and Luke Roskam started the Husker uprising in the sixth.
Nebraska manufactured a run in the bottom of the first, as Chick plated Acker with a sacrifice fly to right. Acker coaxed a leadoff walk and eventually moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and an infield single before coming home on Chick’s shallow fly out to right.
NU starter Chance Hroch cruised through the first three innings, allowing only one baserunner and fanning six of seven Gophers before Minnesota knotted the game in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Gabe Knowles. Zack Raabe opened the fourth with Minnesota’s first hit before two straight ground outs put the Gopher baserunner on third. Knowles then sent a 1-0 pitch into right for tie the game at one.
The Gophers took advantage of a rare Husker fielding miscue one inning later. Ronald Sweeny doubled off the wall in right center to open the frame, and Easton Bertrand laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Hroch’s throw was wild of first, allowing Sweeny to score to put Minnesota ahead 2-1.
Hroch allowed two runs on three hits, while matching a season high with seven strikeouts over 4.2 frames in the no-decision.
Minnesota (3-10) had seemingly taken control of the game in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs off of reliever Tyler Martin. With one out, Wilhite walked and Boston Merila was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Sweeny, who went 2-for-2 with an RBI, greeted Wynne with an RBI double to right center before Bertrand’s sacrifice fly gave Minnesota a three-run cushion.
The teams will conclude the doubleheader with the second game beginning at 3:10 p.m. That game will be carried on the Learfield IMG Husker Sports Network and available online at BTN+.
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