Lincoln – The Nebraska baseball team (5-7, 0-0 Big Ten) outhit the Western Carolina Catamounts (6-7, 0-0 SoCon) by a margin of 9-7 on Friday afternoon at Hawks Field, but a pair of Husker errors in the third inning allowed three unearned runs to score and they were the difference in a 5-2 Catamount win.
Jake Meyers notched three of NU’s nine hits on the day, his second three-hit game over the past three games. Mojo Hagge and Scott Schreiber also chipped in a pair of hits, including a double by Schreiber.
The Catamounts got one hit each from their first seven batters in the lineup, all singles. Center fielder Matt Smith led all players with two RBIs.
Junior Jake Hohensee made his third start of the season and went a career-high 6.0 innings, topping his previous best of 4.1 innings against Utah earlier this year. The Lincoln native allowed three runs (all unearned) on three hits and four walks, while striking out a career-high four. Nebraska’s defense has played its best behind Hohensee this year. In Hohensee’s three starts this season opposing teams have scored at least two unearned runs in every game and have now scored three unearned runs twice.
Western Carolina starter Bryan Sammons allowed seven hits over 7.0 innings, but only allowed two runs (one earned) and struck out eight. The senior lefty remained perfect on the year, improving to 3-0.
After striking out the first batter of the game Hohensee issued consecutive walks, got a fly out and walked Caleb Robinson to load the bases. With two outs and nowhere to put Luke Robinson, Hohensee got out of the early jam with a lineout to Angelo Altavilla at second base.
The Huskers went down in order in the bottom of the first and then struck first in the second, with Schreiber coming in to score after reaching on a leadoff double. With one down and runners on the corners Schreiber coasted home on a wild pitch from Sammons. Following a walk the Huskers had two on and one down, but Sammons responded with consecutive strikeouts to end the second.
Western Carolina answered in the top of the third by taking advantage of a pair of Husker errors to score three runs, all unearned. The first three batters all reached without getting a hit and all three came around to score. Caleb Robinson notched the only hit of the frame, a RBI single, and Luke Robinson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, giving WCU a 3-1 lead.
Nebraska got a break to start the bottom of the sixth when Schreiber struck out, but reached on a passed ball. Meyers followed with a single and NU had two on and no out. Head Coach Darin Erstad went to pinch-hitter Alex Raburn, who executed a sacrifice bunt that put both Schreiber and Meyers in scoring position. Altavilla stepped in and delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Schreiber, but on the play the inning came to an end when Meyers was caught in a pickle and was tagged out at second base.
The Catamounts got the run back in the top of the seventh, pushing their lead back to two runs, 4-2. Reliever Robbie Palkert struck out Andrew Robinson to start the inning but then gave up a walk, a single and a walk to load the bases. Palkert got a groundout off the bat of Smith, but it was deep enough to score Cameron Blaquiere. Palkert ended the frame with a groundout, limiting the damage to one run.
Jesse Wilkening led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and Luis Alvarado later added a two-out single to put two runners on, but Sammons was able to strand both runners.
Western Carolina added an insurance run in the top of the ninth and B.J. Nobles closed out the game in the bottom of the frame for his first save of the season.
The Huskers and Catamounts continue their three-game series Saturday, with first pitch set for 2:05 p.m.