Everyone knew that Marsden was tough to hit. This long and lanky lefty has been confusing opponents all year. It started with U.N.K and hit a fervor tonight as Marsden went almost a complete game, striking out six and giving up only two earned runs to the best hitting team in the conference.
Marsden wasn't alone on this night however, as Husker bats were eager to take advantage of early Longhorn mistakes. Texas starter, Brad Halsey wasn't his usual self, battling from behind in the count most of the three innings he pitched, allowing runners to get on and even score on a balk, that brought Husker, Daniel Bruce in.
To coin a phrase, the hits just kept on coming, Nebraska widening the margin to two runs in the third and four in the fourth before Texas finally answered.
Regardless though of the Husker bats that kept Marsden's cushion intact, it was Marsden that would end up being the story. A story that starting catcher, John Grose helped to write. During the fourth inning, John Grose (on third) was coming into home where there was definitely a play at the plate. Catcher, Ryan Hubele was waiting for Grose, but where he was waiting seemed to be the question. Grose obviously sensing nowhere to go but home, ran through Hubele, scoring the run and sending Ryan about ten feet the other direction on his back.
A discussion ensued between the Texas coach and the umpires as to whether Grose chose to go through the player intentionally (that's illegal in the collegiate ranks) or went through him simply because there was no other place to go. Needless to say, coach Van Horn was arguing the latter, but ultimately to no avail as Grose was ejected, but the run he put up still counted.
The ruling also gave Aaron Marsden a chance to do something he might not have thought he would ever have to do while at NU, a chance to bat. You see, in this ruling, once the player in question is ejected, the designated hitter has to go to the field and the pitcher (Marsden) must then take over that missing player's batting duties. A tall task for a person who's never swung a bat in collegiate play.
It was all set up for Marsden to be his own savior of sorts and his team helped it happen. Marsden (as you would expect) didn't start off swiftly. Striking out the first two times at bat, it was basically a foregone conclusion that he was a body up there at the plate, nothing more, nothing less. A person that Texas didn't take seriously and someone we really didn't think could help put runs on the board.
I will be the first to say, I apologize Mr. Marsden.
In the bottom of the eighth, it seemed Marsden was waning some as Texas bats were getting to him a little more frequently, but it wasn't enough to prompt Van Horn to pull him in favor of the awaiting reliever, Jeremy Becker. Marsden stayed, so he got another chance to bat.
With the score at 5-2 in the top of the ninth and two players already quickly down, it seemed that it was either going to be Marsden or Becker that would have to keep the three-run lead safe, Texas hitting never to be underestimated. Jed Morris got up to bat however with two outs to go and was subsequently hit by a pitch. That started a very memorable chain of events.
Following Morris was Hopper who walked advancing Morris to second. Following Hopper was Blevins, who knocked in an RBI single , scoring Morris and advancing Hopper to second.
And up came Aaron, Mr. O for his career at the plate and what did we want? A quick at-bat, don't waste too much energy and get back on the mound ready to shut the last hitters from Texas down. Apparently, Marsden wasn't listening and the Texas pitcher wasn't paying attention, because before you know it, Marsden had taken a fast ball to right center scoring both Hopper and Blevins to seal this game all but up.
Marsden couldn't complete the dramatic ending by throwing a complete game, but that mattered little in the end. Jeremy Becker swept up, NU went up 1-0 and we once again view just what this young fireballer is made of. Off-balance, confusing and powerful, Marsden has cemented himself as sturdy on the mound and gritty under the gun. He's a pro in amateur clothing.
This performance leaves NU up by one with two yet to go. From this inspiring performance, hopes are high that Jamie Rodrigue can find once again, the stuff that made him NU's co-number one earlier in the season. He pitches tomorrow against the best pitcher Texas has, Justin Simmons who is an astounding 12-0 overall with a meager 2.1 ERA.
Today, Marsden may have been the star, but the entire team was the story, because what John Grose said would happen sooner or later happened today. It all came together, hitting, pitching and defense and you see what happens when it does. NU should go into tomorrow's game on a high, not only out-playing the best team in the conference, but showing more fire in their bellies.
Game two, tomorrow, 3:00 p.m. televised on Fox Sports Net. Another thriller in the making? Who knows, but maybe the next time the umpire decides he wants to kick an NU player out, it will be the Texas coach coming out to argue against it.