Michigan forces elimination game on Huskers in Big Ten tournament
OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska baseball is not a morning person.
At least it wasn’t on Saturday.
Michigan posted a seven spot in the first inning en route to an 18-8 thumping of the Huskers, who committed a season-high six errors, in the Big Ten Tournament at TD Ameritrade Park.
The bright side for Darin Erstad’s team: It gets another shot.
Nebraska (30-21) and Michigan (41-17) met on Saturday night, but the game finished after press time. The winner will advance to Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game against either Minnesota or Ohio State, and that win-or-go home game started after press time.
Nebraska’s third starter, Reece Eddins, gave up four hits to start the game, including a ground-rule RBI double to Jack Blomgren and a two-run single to Jimmy Kerr. After two groundouts, Michigan strung together four more hits.
After giving up a double and a walk to begin the second, Eddins’ day was done. He gave up eight runs on nine hits. He faced 13 batters.
“Reece has always kind of struggled early in the game, and we’ve been able to get out of those situations, as we’ve gotten stronger as the game goes,” Erstad said. “They jumped all over him, took some great swings, hit balls hard. And unfortunately we weren’t in positions of where they went.”
Erstad saw at least one positive element in the lopsided defeat.
“To sum it up, if we can get all our crap and junk out in one game, let’s just get it out and reset,” he said. “That’s the beauty of baseball.”
Michigan had 12 hits through three innings and 19 for the game. The hit parade came with Jordan Brewer watching from the dugout. The Big Ten player of the year is battling a turf toe injury.
Nebraska tried to scrap its way back. RBI groundouts by Joe Acker and Colby Gomes plated two runs in the fourth, and Aaron Palensky and Spencer Schwellenbach hit back-to-back homers in the fifth.
But Michigan erased any doubt with six runs — four with two outs — in the sixth inning. Ako Thomas, the Wolverines’ No. 9 hitter, drove in two runs on a single and Jordan Nwogu followed with a two-run homer, which pushed the lead to 15-4.
Ethan Frazier provided the Huskers a bright spot by eating 4 1/3 innings. The senior righty entered in relief of Eddins and allowed two runs on three hits. He said he was mindful of trying to extend his appearance as long as he could in order to preserve as many as the Huskers’ top bullpen arms as possible.
“I got through four (innings),” Frazier said. “I would’ve liked to get through six.”
Max Schreiber (10 pitches), Paul Tillotson (15) and Tyler Martin (67) also pitched for the Huskers in a game that lasted 4 hours, 8 minutes.
Frazier came out of the loss optimistic about Nebraska’s chances in the nightcap, pointing to the Huskers’ quality at-bats late in the game. Erstad reiterated that his team always battles hard.
He said he wasn’t ready to announce his pitching starter for the night game.
Michigan continues to work its way through the bracket after losing to Ohio State in the opening round.