LINCOLN – A feel-good weekend for the Nebraska baseball team had a sweet finish.
The Huskers (20-22) had another solid performance on Saturday afternoon, defeating Nevada 12-5 at Haymarket Park.
Nebraska completed its first series sweep of the season.
“I thought they looked relaxed,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “I think they were more under control. We’ve had a couple of times where we’ve gotten off to some leads, but then some other part of our game falls apart, but when you’re ahead you can be more relaxed and I think overall it was solid.
“We didn’t hardly walk anybody the whole weekend and played somewhat respectable defense. When you’re not giving free passes, you have a chance to win. We’re going to have to do what we did this weekend the rest of the way.”
The win was fueled by senior pitcher Luis Alvarado, who was as solid on Saturday as he’d been all season in his 11th start.
“I talked to (pitching) coach Ted Silva,” Alvarado said. “We made an adjustment on the mound on the side of pitching. I think it worked pretty well, you know. Today, it worked pretty well.”
The right-hander from Salinas, Puerto Rico tossed a career-high 8.0 innings on 94 pitches, striking out three and walking none. He allowed just two hits and one earned run.
“(Luis) had solid fast ball command and had somewhat command of his breaking ball,” Erstad said. “He held his velocity. That’s the best velocity he’s had all year, so there’s obviously a little bit of ‘ticked offness’ in there. I loved it. It’s great. He’s still touching 92 (mph) in the eighth, and that’s what it should be like every time out with that sense of urgency. That’s what we need the rest of the year.”
The Huskers were equally as effective on offense, grabbing an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, thanks to an RBI double by sophomore third baseman Luke Roskam and a sacrifice fly by freshman catcher Gunner Hellstrom.
The real damage was done in the bottom of the second when Nebraska put up four runs. Three of them came courtesy of a three-run bomb by senior first baseman Scott Schreiber.
The home run was his third of the series 16th of the season, and 42nd of his career tying him for fifth all-time in school history.
He surpassed Darin Erstad’s career-total of 41.
“He actually kind of brought it up to me,” Schreiber said. “Very humbling to be in the record books close to Coach Erstad. Obviously, he’s a tremendous player. It means a lot for sure.”
Schreiber fell a triple short of the cycle, batting 3-for-5 with a double, a home run, and three RBIs, bumping his season batting average to .394.
The Huskers tacked on an insurance run in the fifth inning, another in sixth and four more in the seventh.
“This is big,” Schreiber said of the weekend. “Obviously, a big confidence boost. We were able to play all three facets of the game these last three games pretty well. Hopefully, we can continue to build off of this and continue to get better each and every day.”
The Wolfpack scored their first run of the game in top of the seventh. Freshman third baseman Joshua Zamora hit a lead-off single shot homer to prevent the shutout.
Nevada then took advantage of some of Nebraska’s freshman reliever Andrew Abrahamowicz in the top of the ninth, scoring four runs on three hits, a walk and a hit-batter, but freshman righty Max Schreiber eventually finished the job.
“I wanted to get some of those other guys some work,” Erstad said. “Apparently, it didn’t look like they were ready to get work, but it’s a good learning lesson for a couple of those young pups.”
Nebraska will have six days off before resuming Big Ten play against Maryland. First pitch from Haymarket on Friday, May 4 is set for 6:35 p.m. central.
Angelo Altavilla update
The junior shortstop got hurt on just the third pitch of Friday night’s game when a foul ball on the third base side came down and hit him in the mouth. Erstad said Altavilla got out of surgery at roughly 2 a.m. Saturday and provided a full update.
“He has a fractured part of his jaw. It looks like an erector set in his mouth with how much metal is in there, putting those teeth back together. There’s stitches on his lip. I mean, I feel awful for him. That being said, he’s up and moving around and there’s a chance, if we can find him some kind of a mask, that he might be available next weekend, but it’s not pretty looking I’ll tell you that.”
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