By Tommy Rezac
LINCOLN – After Thursday’s 14-8 debacle – a game where Nebraska used six pitchers and looked lost defensively, many wondered if the Huskers would have the pitching depth to survive a doubleheader.
Luis Alvarado helped ease the pressure in Friday’s 4-0 win with his dominant seven-inning performance on the mound.
“It was huge,” junior Angelo Altavilla said of Alvarado’s Friday performance. “He gives everybody confidence when he can go six or seven (innings) on the mound with no runs. He’s a battler, and it just rubs off on everybody else.”
That energy and confidence appeared to have carried over into Saturday.
Behind more solid pitching from the starters, and big offensive numbers, Nebraska (9-6) swept Cal Poly (6-10) in Saturday’s doubleheader, taking the second game 13-2 after winning the first game 22-3.
The Huskers outscored the Mustangs Saturday 35-5 to win the series 3-1.
“It’s tough to keep the energy for a full day like that,” Erstad said. “From the bench to the players on the field, you’re just going to have lapses, and I thought we did a great job of continuing to keep pressure on them and have great at-bats. You know, just an overall great day.
“That was one of the better doubleheader days I’ve ever seen. You just rarely see a team keep that much pressure on (an opponent) for two games in a row.”
Senior Matt Warren (2-0) wasn’t dominant in his fourth start on the mound, but gave the Huskers enough with 91 pitches in 5.1 innings with three strikeouts and two walks. It was enough for his second win of the season.
With the offense scoring 35 runs on 30 hits in two games, the pressure was off Nebraska’s pitching staff for most of the day.
“That might be the understatement of the year,” Erstad said. “I think our guys understand that we’re going to have to put some runs on the board this year, and not just rely on winning 4-3 like we’ve been pretty good at the last few years.
“I really liked the overall intensity at the plate, and I also liked the fact that we got a lot of guys in there and it looked like a lot of guys were hungry to get at-bats and put some good swings on when they haven’t had a lot of at-bats early on.”
One player who didn’t have any at-bats coming into Saturday was freshman third baseman Zac Luckey, who made his first career-start in game two and had his first career at-bat in game one.
Luckey finished game two going 2-of-4 at the plate with a run scored and a walk. He also mashed a double in his first ever at-bat in a Husker jersey during game one.
“Praise God that I finally got the opportunity to play,” Luckey said. “I was just fortunate to be able to be out there on such a good team with beautiful, amazing fans. Being out there was just a blast. I felt like a kid again – at the park that I love with the people that I love. Just had a ton of fun doing it.”
Junior Angelo Altavilla led the charge offensively, hitting a combined 4-of-6 in both games and finishing with six runs scored, eight RBIs, a double and four walks. Senior Zac Repinski finished Saturday going 4-of-8 at the plate with six runs scored, three RBIs, two doubles and three walks over both games combined.
All told, Nebraska batted .400 as a team and finished with 30 hits in Saturday’s double dip.
“This definitely helped this weekend to put up a ton of runs,” Altavilla said. “We’re going to take that into next week, and we’ll be just fine.”
Nebraska stays home for the next five games, and is back in action Tuesday to take on Northern Colorado. First pitch from Hawks Field is set for 1:35 p.m.
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.