LINCOLN – It got Nebraska no closer to the Big Ten Tournament, but any kind of win was much needed for this team.
The Huskers (18-22) got exactly that on Thursday night, defeating Nevada 9-4 at Haymarket Park for just the second series-opening win of the season.
“We just kept grinding,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said after. “Their pitcher (Dalton Gomez) was throwing very well, and we just couldn’t square him up, and we found a way to get to him.”
Nebraska didn’t get a single hit in the first three innings, and fell behind 3-0 by the middle of the third.
The Huskers responded, scoring three runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to knot the game at 3-3.
Nevada’s offense suddenly went quiet after that. The Wolfpack managed only one hit between the fifth and eighth inning. Junior reliever Matt Waldron (2-2) was the reason.
Making his 17th appearance in relief and earning his second win of the season, the right-hander from Omaha took over for starter Reece Eddins in the third inning, and held the Wolfpack to just two runs and five hits over five innings of middle relief.
Waldron struck out three batters and didn’t give up a walk.
“Mike was huge for us to give us that length there in the middle of the game,” Erstad said. “He pitched really well, so that was big. Mike was a big piece of that right in the middle.”
After Nebraska tied the game at 3-3 in the fourth, Nevada briefly took the lead back in the top of the seventh after a single-shot home run to left field by leadoff hitter and freshman third baseman Joshua Zamora.
The Husker offense responded with one of its better innings of the season in the bottom of the seventh, scoring six runs on four hits and four walks .
It took four different Nevada pitchers to retire the side.
Sophomore left fielder Mojo Hagge put the cherry on top in the seventh with a two-run RBI double to left field, giving the Huskers a 9-4 lead heading into the eighth.
“Jesse (Wilkening) did a nice job of finding the opening in the infield, and Mojo (Hagge) got a huge hit there at the end,” Erstad said, “but a couple of really good battled walks in the middle with bases loaded. Just a nice job of continuing to grind.”
Junior DH Jesse Wilkening was once again big for Nebraska offensively, going 3-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored, a double and an RBI.
Over his last four games, Wilkening has hit a combined 10-for-18 with seven runs scored, six RBIs and two doubles.
Senior first baseman Scott Schreiber finished 2-for-5 with a run scored.
“It’s so much more fun when we win,” Wilkening said. “That big six-run inning, that was pretty cool. That was fun. It was electric. It was so much fun. Everyone was jumping around (in the dugout). It was awesome.”
Freshman centerfielder Jaxon Hallmark extended his hitting streak to four games, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored an RBI.
The Huskers didn’t score again after the seventh, but freshman Paul Tillotson and senior Jake Hohensee finished off the Wolfpack in the final two innings, allowing only two hits and one run in that time.
The Huskers resume the series on Friday evening at 6:30 central. Nebraska will start junior Matt Waldron (4-2) on the mound.
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.