Nebraska’s offense wore down Penn State’s bullpen, as the Huskers scored seven unanswered runs over the final three innings in an 8-2 victory Friday night.
Trailing 2-1 after six innings against Nittany Lion starter Bailey Dees, the Huskers (16-6) got into the Nittany Lion bullpen with seven runs over the last three frames, including a five-run eighth, en route to NU’s 11th win in the last 13 contests.
While the PSU bullpen struggled, NU relievers Cam Wynne, Jake Bunz and Braxton Bragg combined for 3.1 shutout innings in relief of NU starter Cade Povich. Buntz earned the win, fanning three over two shutout innings to improve to 3-1 on the season.
Nebraska pounded out 14 hits, as the bottom four spots in the lineup combined to go 8-for-15 with five runs scored. Jaxon Hallmark and Cam Chick had two RBIs apiece for the Big Red (16-6), who remained in first place in the Big Ten race, percentage points ahead of Michigan, which also won on Friday.
Trailing 2-1, Nebraska knotted the score in the seventh off of reliever Jared Freilich without putting a ball out of the infield. After Freilich walked Matthews and Griffin Everitt – the eighth and ninth hitters in the Husker lineup – to open the inning, Joe Acker laid down a bunt in front of the plate, but PSU third baseman Justin Williams was charging and could not get back to third allowing everyone to reach. Hallmark then coaxed a walk to plate the tying run.
Leighton Banjoff started the eighth-inning rally with a one-out single before pinch runner Mojo Hagge stole second, advanced to third on a Brice Matthews single and scored the go-ahead run on Everitt’s infield single. After an error loaded the bases, reliever Steven Miller walked Hallmark to push another run home before Cam Chick’s two-out, two-run single broke the game open. The Huskers eventually pushed across a fifth run in the frame, as Roskam coaxed another bases-loaded walk to make it 7-2.
Nebraska tacked on another unearned run in the ninth, as Acker reached on a fielder’s chose, moved to third after an errant pickoff attempt and scored a wild pitch.
Nebraska got on the board in the top of the second, getting a two-out RBI single from freshman Brice Matthews. Roskam and Banjoff had back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners before Matthews plated Roskam with a bloop single.
That would be the only run NU scored off Dees, who scattered six hits and fanned four over six solid innings.
Povich took a shutout into the sixth, but some wildness and two-out hitting by Penn State gave the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead. Johnny Piacentino started the rally with a two-out single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored as Justin Williams singled to left. After a wild pitch moved Williams into scoring position, Matt Wood gave PSU its first lead with an RBI double to right.
Povich turned in another solid Friday night effort, as he allowed two runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings, but did not factor into Friday’s decision. He has now pitched into the sixth in each of his last six starts and has not allowed more than four runs in any of his seven starts this season.
The series continues Saturday afternoon at Noon (central), as Chance Hroch (2-0) looks for his third victory of the season.