NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Omaha – The Nebraska baseball team (37-20) saw its time in Omaha come to a close on Thursday afternoon with a 6-2 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers (32-23) in an elimination game at the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers got revenge on the Huskers after NU swept Indiana in Lincoln last week to end the regular season.
Freshman Matt Waldron tossed 5.2 innings for the Huskers and only allowed a pair of unearned runs on five hits and a season-high three walks. Waldron entered Thursday with 18.2 scoreless innings on the mound and stretch it to 22.1 straight innings before Indiana scored in the fourth. Since both runs on Thursday were unearned, Waldron hasn’t allowed an earned run over his past 24.1 innings.
IU starter Caleb Baragar went 5.0 innings and also gave up a pair of runs on the day (both earned), allowing only two hits and a walk, while striking out two. Relievers Thomas Belcher and Jake Kelzer combined for 4.0 shutout innings to end the game
Waldron retired the first seven Hoosiers of the game on just 12 pitches, but then issued back-to-back walks for the first time all year. With runners on first and third and the top of IU’s lineup coming to the plate, Waldron got out of the jam by striking out Alex Krupa looking and a 6-3 groundout off the bat of Craig Dedelow to keep the game scoreless headed to the bottom of the third.
After Waldron worked out of the threat Luis Alvarado led off the bottom of the third with his fifth double of the year, snapping an 0-for-15 slump. Jake Schleppenbach moved Alvarado to third with a ground ball to the right side and then Ryan Boldt laced a 1-2 offering from Baragar down the third-base line for a RBI single, plating the game’s first run. Boldt stole second to put himself in scoring position, but Baragar was able to strand him there with consecutive line outs from Jake Placzek and Jake Meyers.
Without a hit through the first three innings, the Hoosiers got back-to-back singles from Logan Sowers and Ryan Fineman to start the fourth. Luke Miller stepped in with two on and no down and the Hoosiers let him swing away, the third baseman hit into a 5-3 double play. Scotty Bradley kept the inning going a with a two-out walk, Waldron’s first three-walk game of the year. Waldron then got the ground ball he needed to end the inning, but Placzek had the ball bounce off his glove and the tying run came into score. Brian Wilhite followed with a bloop RBI single to right field that dropped just in front of the outstretched glove of Meyers. Waldron ended the inning with a strikeout, but not before Indiana took a 2-1 lead on a pair of unearned runs.
The Hoosiers threated again in the sixth when they had runners on the corners with two outs following a single by Austin Cangelosi. Nebraska went to senior Jeff Chesnut and in his 91st career appearance Chesnut struck out Wilhite swinging to end the inning.
After Baragar gave up the one-out RBI single to Boldt in the third, the senior retired eight straight Huskers before hitting Boldt to start the bottom of the sixth and IU went to Belcher. Placzek executed a sacrifice bunt that put Boldt in scoring position and Belcher got a pop out to put two outs on the board. The Hoosiers intentionally walked Ben Miller and instead pitched to freshman Jesse Wilkening. The Cedar Lake, Ind., native delivered a RBI single to left field on the first pitch he saw from Belcher, tying the game at 2-2. Belcher was able to strand the go-ahead run with a fielder’s choice off the bat of Steven Reveles.
With the game tied 2-2, the Hoosiers quickly retook the lead in the top of the seventh. No. 9 hitter Colby Stratten led off with his 10th hit of the season and following a sacrifice bunt and a groundout, Stratten was out third with two down. The Hoosiers strung together three straight two-out single that plated two runs and the Husker went to reliever Robbie Palkert. The freshman from Golden Valley, Minn., needed just one pitch to end the frame, but not before the Hoosiers retook the lead, 4-2.
Nebraska got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh after Jake Schleppenbach worked a two-out walk, but Belcher got Boldt to fly out to right to end the inning.
The Hoosiers plated two insurance runs in the eighth on just one swing. Laren Eustace blasted a 1-0 offering from Palkert into the visitors bullpen in right field, extending IU’s lead to 6-2.
Jake Kelzer took the mound in the eighth and tossed 2.0 perfect innings of relief to end the game.
Todays’ loss knocked the Huskers out of the Big Ten Tournament and now they will wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show is scheduled for Monday on ESPNU at 11 a.m. (CT).