NU MEDIA RELATIONS:
Lincoln – In front of more than 5,500 fans on Saturday afternoon at Hawks Field the Nebraska baseball team (37-18, 16-8 Big Ten) completed a three-game sweep of the Indiana Hoosiers (31-22, 15-9 Big Ten) with a 3-0 win, which locked up the No. 2 seed at next week’s Big Ten Tournament. Five seniors were on hand for their final game at Hawks Field on Saturday, including Jeff Chesnut, Taylor Fish, Colton Howell, Jake Placzek and Steven Reveles.
The Hoosiers entered the series with a 2.0-game lead on the Huskers, but behind brilliant pitching the Huskers overcame the deficit to finish second in the regular-season standings for the third time in the last four seasons. Nebraska will open the tournament next week on Wednesday at 1 p.m. and will face the No. 7 seed Michigan State Spartans.
For the third straight day Nebraska’s starting pitcher didn’t allow a run. After Derek Burkamper tossed 7.1 shutout innings on Thursday and Matt Waldron threw 8.0 scoreless frames yesterday, Jake Meyers kept the Hoosiers off the board for 7.0 innings on Saturday. Meyers allowed just four hits and one walk on his way to his sixth win of the season. Nebraska has won each of Meyers’ last five starts.
Freshman Chad Luensmann pitched in the ninth for the third straight game and notched his second save of the weekend. The right hander set IU’s 2-3-4 hitters down in order in the ninth for his 13th save of the season, tying him with Brett Jensen (2006) for third on NU’s single-season saves list. Jensen holds the NU single-season record with 16 saves in 2005.
Nebraska’s pitching staff limited the Hoosiers to just one run on the weekend, a solo home run in the top of the ninth of Thursday’s opener. Indiana hit .140 on the weekend and had just 12 hits and five walks, while striking out 15 times.
Nebraska’s offense made the most of its eight hits on the day, including two each from Ryan Boldt, Placzek and Reveles. The Huskers scored all three of their runs without a base-hit RBI, as Luis Alvarado and Jake Schleppenbach each drove in runs on RBI ground outs and Schleppenbach scored on one of Indiana’s five errors.
Coming off a complete-game three-hitter against Illinois last weekend, IU starter Evan Bell worked just 5.0 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks. It was Bell’s shortest start of the season since only going 3.2 inning against Iowa on April 17.
After Meyers got an inning-ending double play in the top of the second, Nebraska’s offense gave its starting pitcher the game’s first lead for the third straight day. Fish started the bottom of the second with a walk and NU quickly had two runners in scoring position following Reveles’ second double of the series. With IU’s infield playing back, Alvarado and Schleppenbach delivered consecutive RBI groundouts, giving Nebraska an early 2-0 lead.
Working with the lead, Meyers sat the Hoosiers down in order in the third on just seven pitches. Indiana’s lineup rolled over in the fourth and leadoff hitter Alex Krupa opened it with a single. Krupa didn’t advance any farther though, as Meyers sat IU’s 2-3-4- hitters down in order, including a diving stop by Schleppenbach to end the frame.
Following another scoreless frame in the fifth from Meyers, NU’s offense tacked on a run in the bottom of the inning, thanks to three Indiana errors. Schleppenbach led off with a single and then took second on a throwing error by Bell on a failed pickoff attempt. Bell dialed up back-to-back strikeouts and was in position to strand Schleppenbach at second. Placzek kept the inning going with an infield single, but a throwing error by third baseman Isaiah Pasteur allowed Schleppenbach to score on the play. Meyers worked a walk and then catcher Ryan Fineman tried to pick off Placzek at second, but instead threw the ball into center and the Huskers had runners on the corners. Bell was able to get out of the jam though, with a deep fly ball off the bat of Ben Miller down the left-field line.
Trailing 3-0 in the sixth, the Hoosiers got a runner on following a two-out single by Craig Dedelow, but Meyers stranded him by striking out IU’s No. 3 hitter, Logan Sowers. Fineman worked a four-pitch walk to start the seventh, but Meyers ended the inning with just three pitchers. Brian Wilhite flew out on the first pitch he saw and Meyers needed to two pitches to get Scotty Bradley to bounce into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Reece Eddins took over in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Austin Cangelosi. Eddins came back and got a pop up before No. 9 hitter Colby Stratten singled, putting runners on the corners for the top of IU’s lineup. Eddins executed his first pitch to Laren Eustace, who hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Luensmann climbed the hill in the ninth and notched his ninth save during Big Ten play.