Lincoln – The Nebraska baseball team (8-8, 0-0 Big Ten) will go for its first weekend sweep of the season tomorrow at 11:05 a.m. following a 6-1 win over the College of Charleston Cougars (8-11, 0-0 CAA) on Saturday afternoon at Hawks Field. After winning 10-1 on Friday, the Huskers clinched a series victory with Saturday’s win.
Nebraska’s pitching staff was locked in on Saturday, allowing one run on three hits, with two of the hits coming in the ninth inning. Offensively the Huskers recorded 10 hits on the afternoon, including a solo home run by Ben Miller, and all nine batters recorded a hit. The Huskers have outscored the Cougars 16-2 in the series and outhit them, 23-9.
Senior Derek Burkamper put together his best start of the year, as he gave up just one run on one hit and went a season-high 6.2 innings. Burkamper struck out five for the second straight week and the lone hit he gave up was a solo home run in the third. The Muscatine, Iowa, native faced the minimum three times on the afternoon and retired the final five Cougars he faced until he was replaced by Jake McSteen with two out in the seventh.
McSteen tossed 2.0 shutout innings, but exited in the ninth when the Cougars had the bases loaded with two outs. Chad Luensmann came in and struck out Luke Morgan looking to end the game, earning Luensmann his third save of the season.
College of Charleston starter Tucker White limited the Huskers to one run on three hits over the first four innings, but couldn’t get out of the fifth. NU scored two runs on two hits off White in the fifth, while totaling four runs on five hits off Cougar pitching in the inning.
After Burkamper worked around a leadoff walk in the top of the first, the NU offense mounted a threat in the bottom of frame. With one down White hit Angelo Altavilla and Jake Meyers followed with a single to put runners on the corners for the Scott Schreiber and Miller. White buckled down and escaped the jam with a fly out and a strikeout.
After never holding the lead in yesterday’s series opener, the Cougars broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third with a solo home run. Riley Knudsen opened the frame by lifting a 2-1 offering from Burkamper into the right-field seats, Riley’s first home run of the season. Burkamper limited the damage to one run by retiring the next three Cougars in order.
White kept the Huskers off the board until the bottom of the fourth when Miller tied the game with his first home run of the season and the 13th of his career. The senior from Clive, Iowa, pulled a 2-1 pitch into the visitor’s bullpen in right field, evening the game at 1-1.
Burkamper worked around a two-out walk in the top of the fifth and then the Husker offense gave him the lead with a four runs in the bottom of the inning. All nine Huskers came to the plate in the fifth and NU recorded five hits, including two bunt singles. Mogo Hagge led off with a single and Altavilla followed with a bunt single, forcing the Cougars to go to lefty reliever Evan Sisk. Meyers moved both into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and move immediately paid off when Schreiber drove in both with a single. Miller then worked a walk and Luis Alvarado laid down a bunt single that loaded the bases with one down. NU plated two more runs in the frame, one on a RBI single by Jesse Wilkening and one on a RBI groundout by Jake Schleppenbach.
Working with a 5-1 lead, Burkamper faced the top of Charleston’s lineup in the sixth and retired them in order. McSteen posted another scoreless frame in the eighth and the Huskers increased their lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the frame when Schleppenbach scored on a single by Brison Cronenbold.
McSteen retired the leadoff batter in the ninth, but then gave up back-to-back singles. He got a fly out for the second out of the inning before he walked pinch-hitter Logan McRae to load the bases. The Huskers went to Luensmann, who needed just four pitches to strikeout Morgan to end the game.
Tomorrow’s series finale is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. The game was originally set for 12:05 p.m., but was moved up one hour to accommodate Charleston’s travel schedule.