Huskers break out the bats (again) and the brooms to sweep Purdue
Nebraska’s Sunday win against Purdue clinched a series sweep, but the finale was no walk in the park.
After winning the first two games by a combined 26 runs, the Huskers found themselves in a dogfight for much of the day before pulling away for a 9-5 win at Haymarket Park.
A pair of extra-base hits gave Purdue a 1-0 lead in the first inning. But the Huskers, who have now scored in the first inning in seven straight games, came right back. Aaron Palensky smacked a two-run homer, his first of the year, in the bottom of the inning to give the Huskers the lead.
Purdue retook the lead with one run each in the third and fourth innings before the turning point in the game happened in the bottom of the fourth.
With the bases loaded, Carter Cross hit a ground ball to shortstop Evan Albrecht. Albrecht’s throw to second base went wide and found its way into foul territory, and all three Husker runners scored.
Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said the mistake was a big difference in the game, but the fact that his team limited the Boilermakers to single-run innings throughout the rest of the game put them in position to take advantage.
“It was just a typical Sunday, try-and-close-it-out type of game where whoever screws up less probably wins,” Erstad said. “The biggest thing is you look up on the scoreboard, there’s all ones. We didn’t let them get any big innings and we minimized damage. And when you do that, you’ve got a chance.”
The Huskers weren’t done after the three-run play. Palensky, Keegan Watson and Luke Roskam each drove in a run to make it a six-run inning and an 8-3 lead, which Purdue could never overcome.
“We smelled blood in the water right there,” Erstad said. “That was a time where we were battling back and forth, and all of the sudden they make a mistake and we’ve got to jump on it, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Starting pitcher Reece Eddins went five innings and gave up three runs to earn the win, and freshman Shay Schanaman struck out four in 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Alex Henwood, who added a solo home run in the fifth inning, said his team’s multi-player effort has the group feeling good.
“We’re very confident,” Henwood said. “It’s a very close-knit group of guys, different than every year in the past. We’ve got a lot of young guys playing really well, and everybody’s pulling for each other.”
Palensky went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. He’s hitting .369 on the season.
Nebraska improved to 17-9 on the season and 7-2 in conference play (Huskers were 8-14 in league play a year ago), a start that the sophomore said he saw coming even with a rough nonconference season.
“I’m not surprised at this start at all,” Palensky said. “I feel like we’re really a good team, and I thought we played really well at the beginning of the season and maybe a couple of things didn’t go our way.”
The Huskers will get Monday off before hosting Creighton at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday.
Purdue fell to 10-20 with the loss.