It was a timely three-run home run from Brice Matthews that pushed the Nebraska baseball team (14-8-1, 2-1 Big Ten) past North Dakota State (5-19). The Huskers took down the Bison 4-1 as Will Walsh pitched a gem and Shay Schanaman closed it out.
Walsh pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on two hits as his reliever Shay Schanaman closed the game out with five strikeouts. Walsh overshadowed that number with 11 strikeouts of his own, the most by any NU pitcher this season.
The lefty Will Walsh was the first on the mound for the Big Red and his day got out to a wobbly start. The redshirt sophomore gave up a base hit to Cadyn Schwabe to start things off. Walsh then walked the following batter and Schwabe stole third. Following this, NU picked off the trailing runner who stole second, allowing Schwabe to score.
However, after this wobbly start, Walsh locked in. The lefty struck out the side in the second inning, and followed it up with two more strikeouts in the third. Walsh replicated that success in the fourth and fifth innings with a pair of strikeouts in each, allowing just one hit outside the first frame.
The offense was off to a slow start to this point. It wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth inning that Nebraska got on the board as Ben Columbus hit a single with a runner on second. The RBI wasn’t awarded to Columbus as it was an error on the throw home that allowed the run to score, however the junior’s hit was crucial.
With the game tied at one apiece, Will Walsh continued to shove. With 10 strikeouts through five innings, the lefty retired the next six batters he faced, striking out one. After seven innings, it was the end of the road for Walsh. A final stat line of one run allowed on two hits, and 11 strikeouts.
This is when the Big Red offense took advantage of their opportunity. Cole Evans took a pitch off the back, and Casey Burnham reached on a catcher’s interference. With two runners on, Brice Matthews stepped up and launched a ball over the left field wall to put the Huskers out in front 4-1.
The staff called Shay Schanaman out of the bullpen to close the game, and he did just that. The righty struck out five to give NU a 4-1 win and move them to 14-8-1 on the season. Schanaman’s strikeouts brought the Nebraska pitching staff’s tally to 16 on the day.
Will Walsh pitched a gem
Starting pitching outside of Emmett Olson and Jace Kaminska has been hit or miss for the Huskers this season. However, Will Walsh has started to throw his name into that conversation.
The redshirt sophomore did everything that the coaching staff could have asked from him tonight. A seven inning outing, allowing just two hits and one run. With starts like that, he could be making his way up the totem pole.
This isn’t the first time NU has seen an outing like this from Walsh. In the Big Red’s 6-5 loss to Creighton on March 21, Walsh pitched six innings, allowing just three runs on two hits.
After the game, Will Bolt was quick to say that Walsh deserves to be in the conversation to be a Sunday starter.
The offense struggled, but pulled through
Early in this game, Nebraska’s bats were struggling to get going. It wasn’t until the third inning that NU got in the hit column as Ben Columbus struck a ball up the middle for a base hit.
Although there were struggles, the Huskers worked in a run off of two hits in the fifth inning. Then, when it mattered most, Brice Matthews smashed a three-run shot to break the tie and give NU the lead.
Offensively, it was a game of moments for both teams, and the Big Red picked their moments well. A timely hit from Ben Columbus to tie the game and a timely homer from Matthews won Nebraska this ballgame after an impressive outing from the starter.
The Huskers will play just two games this weekend in Abilene, Texas for a doubleheader on Saturday. The first game is at 1:00 p.m. against Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Following that is a 5:00 p.m. start time against Abilene Christian. Both games are available to listen to on the Huskers Radio Network.