NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
San Diego – Behind three home runs and an impressive relief outing from freshman Matt Waldron, the Nebraska baseball team (2-4) ended its trip to the inaugural Tony Gwynn Classic with its first win over a ranked team in 2016, as the Huskers downed #20 Tulane by a score of 11-5.
The Husker offense pounded out 11 hits, including seven extra-base hits. Jake Placzek, Ben Miller and Jake Meyers all notched home runs, with Meyers’ an inside-the-park homer. It was the first inside-the-park home run by a Husker since Cory Burleson recorded one at Hawks Field in 2012 against Louisiana Tech.
Waldron struck out four in 6.0 innings in relief, and allowed two runs on four hits and a walk. Waldron sat down the first 10 batters he faced and the only runs he allowed came on a two-run home run. Waldron’s 6.0 innings were backed up by a combined 1.1 shutout innings from Jeff Chesnut and Max Knutson.
Neither starting pitcher lasted along, as NU’s Zack Engelken gave up three runs on two hits and four walks over 1.2 innings, while Tulane’s Emerson Gibbs was tagged for six runs on seven hits over 3.1 innings.
The Huskers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a pair of one-out hits. Placzek picked up his third hit of the weekend with a single and then scored from first base on Ben Miller’s first double of the season.
Engelken lost the strike zone in the second and walked the bases loaded with two outs. Facing the top of Tulane’s lineup, Engelken worked a full count to Stephen Alemais and on the sixth pitch of the at-bat the shortstop cleared the bases with a double to left-center field. Waldron came in and ended the frame, but not before Tulane took a 3-1 lead
The Green Wave’s lead didn’t last long, as the Huskers responded with four runs on three hits in the top of the third, including three runs with two outs. Ryan Boldt got the offense going with a one-out walk and was soon at third following a double by Placzek. Miller came through with a sacrifice fly and Scott Schreiber tied the game, 3-3, with a RBI single to right field. Meyers then hit a line drive up the middle and center fielder Grant Brown drove for the ball, but missed it and the ball rolled all the way to wall. Meyers motored all the way around the bases for a two-run inside-the-park home run.
After Waldron sat Tulane down in order, the Huskers added to their lead in the fourth. Taylor Fish started the inning with a single, Steven Reveles later added an infield single and following a walk to Boldt that loaded the bases, Tulane’s head coach was ejected from the game. After the short break in play, Placzek drove in Fish with a sacrifice fly to left field, giving NU a 6-3 lead.
Waldron again retired the Green Wave in order in the bottom of the fourth, and the Huskers again added to their lead. Schreiber led off the inning with his first home run of the season and later in the inning following a pair of one-out walks, Jake Schleppenbach added a RBI double that pushed NU’s lead to 8-3.
Waldron retired his 10th straight batter in the bottom of the fifth and Placzek opened the sixth with his second home run of the weekend, extending NU’s lead to 9-3. The senior entered the weekend with one career home run.
Waldron’s streak of sitting down Green Wave batters ended in the bottom of the sixth when Lex Kaplan started the frame with a ground-rule double. Two batters later Jake Willsey cut NU’s lead to 9-5 with a one-out, two-run home run. The freshman righty didn’t let the inning get away from him though, as he retired the next two batters, including his third strikeout of the game to end the inning.
Tulane went to Sam Bjorngjeld to start the seventh and the lefty failed to get an out, issuing a pair of walks and double that loaded the bases. Trevor Simms came into quite a jam and got out of it with little damage. Simms struck out Reveles and got Boldt to fly out, but it was deep enough to score Luis Alvarado. Simms then struck out Placzek, but the Huskers did get a run in the inning that pushed their lead to 10-5.
The Huskers added an insurance run in the ninth when Fish was hit-by-pitch to start the frame and later scored on a throwing error. Trailing 11-5, the Green Wave loaded the bases in the ninth, but Knuston ended the threat with his third strikeout of the inning.
Nebraska will be back in California next weekend for a three-game series against the Long Beach State Dirtbags. The series opens on Friday at 8 p.m. (CT), while Saturday’s game is set for 4 p.m. and the series finale is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.