LINCOLN – Nebraska (19-22) did two things on Friday night it hadn’t done since March 10.
Win back-to-back games, and win a series.
The Huskers had another solid night offensively, and another solid night of Waldron pitching on the mound in a 9-6 victory over the Nevada Wolfpack (21-18) in front of an energetic crowd at Haymarket Park on a beautiful night for baseball. Temperatures at first pitch were hovering around 75.
Nebraska has won the first two games of this three-game set, marking its first series victory since taking three out of four against Cal Poly on the weekend of March 10.
Combined with the presence of former Husker pitching great Shane Komine, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, it turned out to be a memorable night at the ballpark.
“It’s just really special to have him come back, his whole family come back,” Erstad said. “Getting to meet his parents and his wife and his kids, it was just a really special moment with a good crowd, good weather. Pretty special human being.”
Komine is still Nebraska’s all-time leader in career strikeouts (510), innings pitched (431) and wins (41).
As for Nebraska’s current pitching staff, junior Matt Waldron (5-2) earned a win on the mound with seven strikeouts in six innings of work. He allowed three earned runs and seven hits, but no walks – just one day after his twin brother Mike Waldron got his own win on the hill.
“I thought Matt threw the ball really well,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “No walks on the mound, a couple of mistakes defensively, but overall a pretty good effort.”
Offensively, the Huskers got off to a fast start, which is something they’ve been unable to do consistently in recent games.
Nebraska scored two runs on four hits in the bottom of the first to grab a quick 2-0 lead, but Nevada tied it up in the top of the second with back-to-back single shot home runs.
Waldron struck out three of his next five batters faced to retire the side, and didn’t let a couple of lapses spoil the night.
“Even early on in batting practice, it just seemed like it was going to be a good day,” Waldron said. “All around, I thought we played really well. The fans were really supportive, too. It was definitely fun and exactly what we needed I think.”
After Nevada’s pair of homers, senior first baseman Scott Schreiber belted a two-run dinger to left field in the bottom of the second, putting his team back in front 4-2.
The home run was Schreiber’s 15th of the season and 41st of his career, which ties him for sixth-most career home runs in school history with a familiar figure – Darin Erstad.
“I had no clue. It’s just fun to watch him play,” Erstad said.
After the Wolfpack got a run back in the top of the fifth, the Huskers padded their lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, giving them a 7-3 lead.
Nevada made it interesting with three runs in the top of the eighth, but Nebraska tacked on an insurance run in both the seventh and eighth innings.
Three different Huskers finished Friday’s game with multiple hits. Junior catcher Jesse Wilkening remained hot at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored, and an RBI. He’s batting a combined .545 (12-for-22) in his last five outings.
Junior second baseman Alex Henwood had his first multi-hit game since March 23, finishing 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Senior shortstop Brison Cronenbold, who hasn’t played since March 25 due to a back injury, responded nicely with a 2-for-3 night at the plate and a run scored, an RBI, a double and a walk.
Cronenbold came in to replace junior Angelo Altavilla, who got hit in the mouth by a foul ball near the third base dugout on just the third pitch of the game.
Erstad said Altavilla was undergoing surgery on his mouth Friday night.
“There’s some jaw damage,” he said. “It’s not good…our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
Erstad said more information will be provided as soon as it becomes available.
The Huskers conclude the series on Saturday with a 12:05 first pitch. Senior Luis Alvarado (2-5) will start on the mound.
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.