Nebraska (18-11-1, 3-1-1 Big Ten) had the momentum early in the game, but sloppy defense allowed a three-run ninth inning by No. 24 Maryland (20-9, 6-2) that led to an 8-5 Husker loss.
NU’s strong suit this season has been playing error-free baseball. The Huskers had allowed one or zero errors in 22 of their 30 games on the season.
“You can’t give quality teams extra bases,” head coach Darin Erstad said. “You do that against anybody you are going to battle to win games and when you do that against quality teams, you are more than likely going to lose.”
Nebraska junior pitcher Derek Burkamper (2-3, 3.64 ERA) threw three innings for the third time this season. He gave up three runs and four hits but struck out four. Sophomore Matt Waldron came in to replace Burkamper in the fourth inning and pitched 3.2 innings and was given the loss and now moves to 2-3 on the season.
“They hit some ground balls hard, but they found holes,” Erstad said. “We just didn’t move our feet well defensively. Overall, I didn’t think we were sharp, I thought we looked sluggish in and out and I thought we looked sluggish during the game. It’s just not a recipe for success.”
Maryland junior pitcher Tyler Bloom (3-2, 4.50 ERA) got the start and threw 39 pitches but only recorded four outs in the game. It was Bloom’s shortest outing of the season.
NU scored three runs in the second inning off of one hit. Bloom gave up a combined five walks/hits that gave the Huskers a 1-1 tie. Freshman lead-off hitter Mojo Hagge followed up by hitting an RBI single to right field that plated third baseman Luke Roskam.
The turning point of the game was when Bloom was replaced by junior relief pitcher Rich Hill, who pitched 4.2 innings, struck out five and only allowed one run. Erstad said that he felt like the team had plenty of opportunities that were missed.
“We had no answer for that guy throwing all those sliders in the middle of the game,” Erstad said. “He took any momentum that we had and they kept grinding.”
Sophomore relief pitcher Robbie Palkert came in the seventh inning strong as he forced a fly out by Maryland. He put together a strikeout and forced the Terrapins to ground into a double-play. Although, in the top of the ninth, he gave up three two-out hits that led to three Terrapin runs.
Sunday’s game will begin at 12:05 p.m central and will feature Nebraska junior LHP Jake Meyers (4-1, 1.96 ERA, 36.2 IP, 23 K) vs. Maryland Tyler Blohm (5-2, 2.38 ERA, 34.0 IP, 33 K).
“Tomorrow is an identity building type day,” Erstad said. “The team we are playing has a lot of mentality. I can’t say that it really sits good with me when you get out-mentality on your field. So yeah tomorrow is a big day.”