Olson, Huskers tame Redbirds in series opener

Emmett Olson tossed his second straight quality start and had a career-high eight strikeouts, leading the Huskers to an 8-3 win vs. Illinois State.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 8:15 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Emmett Olson tossed his second straight quality start and had a career-high eight strikeouts, leading the Huskers to an 8-3 win vs. Illinois State on Friday evening at Hawks Field.

Nebraska (8-4-1) had eight runs on 13 hits, while the Redbirds (5-7) totaled three runs on five hits.

Olson improved to 2-1 on the season, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings of work. Shay Schanaman collected his first save of the season after dealing three one-hit innings. Schanaman struck out a season-high five batters on Friday, tying Zach Kroenke for 10th-best in program history with 196 career strikeouts.

Brice Matthews stretched his on-base streak to 16 games and his hitting streak to eight with a 3-for-4 performance. The junior scored three runs and drove in two with his fourth homer of the season. Max Anderson went 2-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBI to extend his hit streak to 12 games, including seven straight games with a double.

Matthews’ two-run homer extends NU’s home run streak to 12 games, which is the longest in school history since the 1988 campaign where the Big Red homered in 21 consecutive games.

Casey Burnham had a 2-for-4 day with a double, two RBI and a run scored, while Cole Evans was 2-for-3 with a walk. Josh Caron, Charlie Fischer, Efry Cervantes and Ben Columbus also had one hit apiece.

Olson needed only nine pitches to retire the Redbirds in order in the first, while NU plated a run on Anderson’s RBI groundout back to the pitcher to jump ahead 1-0 after one inning.

Olson surrendered a one-out single in the second and didn’t allow an ISU hit again until a two-out single in the top of the fifth. The southpaw walked the next batter to put runners on first and third with two outs, before inducing a groundout to keep the Redbirds off the scoreboard.

The Huskers tripled the lead in the fifth with two runs on three hits. Burnham laced 3-1 pitch to left for a double with one out, followed by Matthews crushing a first-pitch two-run homer down the left-field line to give Nebraska a 3-0 lead after five innings.

ISU opened the seventh with a single to right-center, setting up Nick Strong’s first-pitch two-run homer to left to cut the Husker lead to 3-2. Schanaman replaced Olson on the mound and drew a groundout and two strikeouts to keep it a one-run game.

The NU offense answered the Redbirds’ two runs with five runs on five hits in the bottom half of the inning to grab an 8-2 lead after seven. Matthews led off with a single and later scored on Anderson’s RBI triple to right. Caron followed Anderson with an RBI double to left-center, while Cervantes’ pinch-hit RBI single to right brought Caron home to make it a 6-2 game.

Following an ISU pitching change, a walk and a wild pitch placed runners on second and third with two outs. Evans drew a walk on full count to load the bases, before Burnham’s two-RBI single to left scored Luke Sartori and Columbus to expand the lead to 8-2.

Schanaman retired the Redbirds in order in the eighth and surrendered a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth to plate the game’s final run.

Nebraska and Illinois State continue the weekend series tomorrow at Hawks Field, with first pitch set for 4:05 p.m.