In games of great magnitude, what each player does is profoundly magnified. Each at bat, each pitch, each decision by the coach, all have that extra meaning, because in situations like this, just one minor mistake could change things dramatically. What each hopes though is that their effort, their decisions in the end, bring them a victory, but if not, credit can be given to the other team.
With this game, much credit can be given to Texas, as Justin Simmons was equal to his hype, going 8 and 1/3, allowing only four hits and an equally minimal one earned run. In the process, he struck out six and aside from a few mistakes here and there, he was almost unstoppable. And despite Jamie Rodrigue's gutsy performance, Texas bats (though not prolific) were opportunistic at some of the most crucial times. Texas did play a solid game on both sides, thus earning credit for the win.
Credit would also have to be given to Nebraska, led by Jamie Rodrigue who managed to get himself out of a few jams to go a full seven innings, much improved over his 1+ inning performance against Kansas. Rodrigue might have been the biggest question today, but he answered in his typical fashion. Fighting in and fighting on, battling batters throughout. Jamie managed to hold the Texas bats to three earned runs thru those seven innings, threatening to give the Horns their first back-to-back losses of the entire year.
And as said before, the Nebraska bats weren't on fire, but like Texas, they made the most of the chances they had, leaving just five men on base all day. A category that NU has struggled with all year. Early to midway through the game, Nebraska put two runs on the board on just two hits, one a Morris home run in the first and the other, a John Grose sacrifice pop out that brought Drew Anderson in. That brought the Huskers one run from tying the game, four innings to go.
Come the seventh, NU put together one of their best efforts at putting them back in the game despite putting up two quick outs on the first two batters. Will Bolt started the brief spurt with a double down the leftfield line followed by a Leise walk leaving Bolt on second, but in scoring position. What came afterwards was a play that should have been a game tying moment, but it turned out to be a blight on what was otherwise a very good game. Justin Seely singled to center and Bolt came around third. With a very good throw to home, this was probably a lot closer play than it should have been, but in the end, it still wasn't even close. Bolt slid in before the catcher even bent down to tag him and the umpire (apparently blocked) completely missed the call and uttered "out!".
With that out, the inning was over and so was Nebraska's best chance at tying this game up. NU mounted another small spurt on closer, Houston Street, but it wasn't to be and NU now faces a series that is tied and it's tied through no fault of their own.
The saddest thing about this game is that it takes away from some solid performances on both sides. Both Texas and Nebraska did enough to take the victory. Solid on the mound and opportunistic at the plate, they fought, scratched and battled their way through a very entertaining game. What each did was enough to decide the end, but now you can thank the Umps for putting an asterisk on this, at least for Husker fans.
The series goes even into tomorrow, where Brian Duensing will try to repeat the performances of Marsden and Rodrigue in giving NU a chance to win. Duensing is 3-1 with a 4.44 ERA. His opponent on the mound is still unknown, but thoughts now linger as to whether it will really matter.
In a game based on players, built on players and it's success stemming from the players' achievements, the last thing you want is a game that may or may have not been decided by anyone but. The officials are there to officiate, but they aren't there to decide games. When something they do puts that thought that a game might have been different if not for them, the players get ignored, great performances become a side issue and you lose what's great about the game.
Let's hope that for the sake of the last game and those involved, this time, the officials can get it right. Nobody likes an asterisk.