With a 5-4 victory on Sunday afternoon at Hawks Field then Nebraska baseball team (9-6, 0-0 Big Ten) stretched its win streak to six games and recorded its first four-game sweep of an opponent since 2011 when it took four from North Dakota. The Huskers got home runs from both Ben Miller and Scott Schreiber, while Miller also drove in the eventual game-winning run with a double in the fifth.
After the Huskers took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth, five NU relievers combined to toss 4.0 shutout innings down the stretch and hung onto the one-run lead. Freshman Chad Luensmann took the hill in the ninth and recorded his second save of the season after also saving last night’s 3-0 shutout. In six appearances this season, Luensmann has not allowed an earned run over 11.0 innings and has struck out seven.
With the tying run on second with two outs in the sixth, Nebraska went to Jeff Chesnut, who made his 70th career appearance, tying him with Jarod Bearinger and John Lepley for ninth in NU’s career record book. The senior right hander struck out Ryan Erickson to end the threat.
For the fourth time in five games the Huskers scored in the first inning. Miller launched a two-out solo homer into the wind that landed in the right-center field home run terrace. The 1-0 lead didn’t last long, as Niko Decolati snapped a 23.0-inning scoreless drought for the Lions with a leadoff homer in the second. NU starter Jake McSteen went right back to work and retired the next three batters to keep the game tied 1-1.
The Huskers retook the lead in the second thanks to a pair of LMU errors. Luis Alvarado started the inning by reaching on an error by Decolati at short. Alvarado then stole second base and a throwing error on the play by catcher Cassidy Brown allowed Alvarado to coast into third base. With no out, Jake Schleppenbach made the errors hurt with a deep sacrifice fly that easily scored Alvarado, giving NU a 2-1 lead.
LMU had a chance for a big inning in the third when it started the frame with back-to-back singles and later had the bases loaded with two outs. McSteen stepped up and struck out Seaver Whalen to end the threat, McSteen’s third strikeout of the game.
Nebraska added to its lead in the third, thanks again to a long ball, this time from Schreiber. With Placzek on second base, who started the inning with his sixth double of the year, Schreiber pulled the first pitch he saw from LMU starter Tyler Cohen into the left-field berm for a two-run homer that gave NU a 4-1 lead. It was Schreiber’s fourth home run of the week and his 10th and 11th RBIs.
The home run came into play again in the fifth when LMU tied the game, 4-4, with a three-run homer from Brown. After McSteen gave up back-to-back one-out singles, Brown knotted the game with a deep fly to left-center field. That ended McSteen’s day and Reece Eddins, who got the win on Sunday, took over. The sophomore reliever got back-to-back outs to keep LMU from taking the lead.
Nebraska retook the lead in the fifth and knocked LMU starter Tyler Cohen out of the game. Cohen’s day ended after he issued a four-pitch walk to Placzek to start the frame and with Miller coming to the plate the Lions went to lefty reliever Mark Finkelnburg. Miller welcomed him with his fourth double of the year and on the play Placzek scored all the way from first to give NU a 5-4 lead. Finkelnburg then walked Schreiber and LMU went to its second reliever of the inning, Michael Silva. The right hander got the first out of the inning with a fly out, but then loaded the bases with a walk to Jesse Wilkening. With one out and the bases juiced, Silva got back-to-back pop outs to keep the Lions only down one run.
The Lions never got a man past second base the rest of the game and the Huskers nearly added some insurance in the eighth when they had the bases loaded, but they ended up not needing it as Luensmann worked a 1-2-3 ninth against the top of LMU’s order.
With no midweek games this week the Huskers will be back in action next weekend at Hawks Field when they host the Wichita State Shockers for a three-game series, which opens on Friday at 4:05 p.m.