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Eddins continues strong weekend for Husker starting pitching as NU caps sweep of Spartans

March 25, 2019

Reece Eddins gave the Nebraska baseball team exactly what it needed to complete a sweep at Haymarket Park with a 6-2 win over reeling Michigan State.

The senior right-hander navigated through five scoreless innings and allowed one hit Sunday as NU improved to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2016. The stellar start came on the heels of four early season appearances that raised his earned-run average to 9.00.

“Boy, we’re just really excited about the way it’s coming out of his hand,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “He showed it again today. When he’s getting that fastball going downhill with the sharp breaking ball and his changeup, it’s pretty effective. That three-pitch mix is real.”

Nebraska (11-7, 3-0 Big Ten) leaned on its starters all weekend long, and boy did it work.

The Husker starters combined to throw 21 1/3 innings and gave up only two runs while walking one Spartan batter.

Nebraska freshman third baseman Cam Chick said the Husker pitchers pounding the zone is important, not just to keep runners off base but to also keep the defense engaged.

“The pace is just moving,” Chick said. “You’re always on your toes. They’re finding the zone so you’re either going to get a strikeout or a hit to you.”

Michigan State (3-18, 0-3) mustered all of eight hits off Husker starters over the weekend, which Eddins said puts the NU bullpen in great shape heading into Tuesday’s game with in-state rival Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.

“That’s one of the most important things you can do,” Eddins said. “Especially going into midweeks, keeping that bullpen fresh; the game is moving by quickly and it doesn’t drag on. It’s awesome.”

Nebraska’s offense struggled in the first three innings of Sunday’s contest.

Jaxon Hallmark and Joe Acker led off the third inning with a hit by pitch and a free pass on balls to put NU in business. The Huskers couldn’t convert, however, as two strikeouts and a fly out ended the Nebraska threat in the fourth.

Nebraska went back to work in the fifth, as Chick drove in Colby Gomes to break the scoreless tie.

“We know we can hit like that,” Chick said. “For it to finally come around and get going for us, it’s a blast being out there with 35-40 brothers putting it all together.”

Acker drove in Chick and Hallmark later in the inning with a two-out triple to deep left-center field.

“He’s struggled against left-handers this year and in his career,” Erstad said. “To stay on that off-speed pitch he hit, it was just a huge at bat for him.”

Acker had two hits and drove in three runs for NU. His batting average grew from .333 to .356, in the process.

“He hadn’t got a ton of at-bats in his first two years, but he just works his tail off,” Erstad said.

As Nebraska turns its eyes to Creighton, Erstad said winning three to start off the Big Ten season is exactly what NU needed.

“Considering we didn’t make the conference tournament last year, every win is going to be important. We can’t let that happen again and this is a start in the right direction. We’re a long way from over though.”

Eddins’ first Big Ten weekend start continued that positive trajectory, and Erstad said with starts like he saw Sunday, there will be more to come.

“You throw like that,” Erstad said. “I think I can find a spot on the weekend for him (Eddins).”

[PHOTOS: Huskers complete sweep of Michigan State in season’s first Big Ten series]