Lincoln – The Husker offense was unable to find a rhythm on Saturday afternoon, as it totaled only six hits in a 8-2 loss to the Western Carolina Catamounts (7-7, 0-0 SoCon). Nebraska (5-8, 0-0 Big Ten) had won three straight games entering the weekend but will now need to try to avoid a sweep tomorrow after dropping the first two games of the series to the Catamounts.
It was a one-run game with two outs in the top of the eighth, when the Catamounts put up five runs. The Huskers stranded seven runners over the first six innings, but then notched just one base runner over the final three innings.
Nebraska’s pitching staff racked up 10 strikeouts on the day, but also issued five walks and three of those walks came into score.
For the second straight game the Huskers took the game’s first lead, as the offense took advantage of a WCU error in the second and got out to a 1-0 lead. Following consecutive one-out singles by Angelo Altavilla and Jesse Wilkening, Catamount first baseman Caleb Robinson missed a ground ball off the bat of Luis Alvarado that allowed Altavilla to score, but on the play Wilkening was cut down at third base.
Western Carolina evened the game in the third, 1-1, on a two-out double by Bryson Bowman. NU starter Derek Burkamper made quick work of the first two batters he faced, the lineup rolled over and Brett Pope worked a two-out walk. Bowman then served the first pitch he saw into left-center field and Pope scored all the way from first to tie the game. Another two-out walk followed by a double steal put two runners in scoring position for the Catamounts, but Burkamper struck out Caleb Robinson to end the two-out rally.
After the Huskers couldn’t cash in a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third, the Catamounts plated a pair of runs in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead. WCU quickly had two runners in scoring position to start the frame following consecutive singles and a sacrifice bunt. Andrew Robinson then delivered a RBI groundout and Luke Robinson scored the second run of the inning on a passed ball. The Huskers got run back in their half of the fourth, as Altavilla worked a one-out walk and later scored on a two-out double by Alvarado.
The Catamounts threated again in the fifth with two straight singles off Burkamper to start the inning. The Huskers went to reliever Jake McSteen and the lefty from Great Falls, Va., put out the fire. McSteen got a ground out and a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play that kept WCU’s lead to one run, 3-2. The Huskers were in position to even the game in the bottom of the fifth when Schreiber roped a two-out double and Jake Meyers reached on a fielding error, but WCU starter Tristan Baker ended the inning by striking out Luke Roskam looking for the third time.
After both teams went scoreless in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings the Catamounts sent all nine batters to the plate in the eighth and broke the game open with five runs, all with two outs. With two out and runner on first the Huskers went to Chad Luensmann, who loaded the bases with back-to-back walks and gave up a two-RBI single to Pope. Junior Reece Eddins took over and allowed a RBI double and a two RBI single before he ended the inning with a fly out.
Meyers led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, but then reliever Dylan Biumi got a double play and fly out to end the eighth. Biumi retired the Huskers in order in the ninth to secure a series victory for the Catamounts.
The Huskers and Catamounts wrap up their three-game series tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.