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Walk-off home run breaks Huskers’ hearts in series opener with Minnesota

March 30, 2019

The plan was to get a ground ball and turn two.

Instead, Robbie Palkert’s 1-1 pitch was left over the plate and Eli Wilson planted it over the left-field wall for a three-run homer that gave Minnesota a 5-2 win over Nebraska in 10 innings and halted the Husker’s winning streak at six games Friday at Siebert Field in Minneapolis.

“We were trying to get a ground ball there and the ball just got left over the plate,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said on the Husker Sports Radio Network.

“That could have easily been a ground ball. It’s a game of inches, that’s for sure.”

The dinger not only ended the Huskers’ winning streak, it cast a shadow on a tremendous outing by senior pitcher Matt Waldron.

The right-hander gave up two runs over eight innings to keep Nebraska in the game. He also picked up seven strikeouts, pushing his career total to 199.

“Matt pitched well enough for us to win,” Erstad said. “There’s no consolation prizes here, going against an All-American (Minnesota pitcher Max Meyer). We had a chance to beat them and we let them off the hook.”

Nebraska jumped on Meyer early.

Mojo Hagge pulled a full-count Meyer pitch to right field for a homer to lead off the game.

After the first inning, Meyer settled in.

“He commanded his fastball better as the game went on,” Erstad said. “He usually attacks with the slider a lot, and as the game went on, he went more to his fastball.”

Meyer went eight innings, but Nebraska had just five baserunners against him after that one-run first inning.

On the other side, Minnesota’s offense started to work.

The Gophers scored a run on a Wilson single in the third inning that drove in Drew Hmielewski.

Minnesota took the lead 2-1 in the fifth inning as Hmielewski roped a single to left field that scored Riley Smith.

NU scored a run in the seventh when Cam Chick’s single scored Joe Acker from second base.

Acker rounded third base and thought twice about taking off for the plate before he broke for home.

A juggle on the relay from Minnesota third baseman Jack Wassel provided just enough time for Acker to slide in and tie up the game at 2-2.

Nebraska had a shot to win the game in the 10th inning, but couldn’t convert in two at-bats with runners in scoring position.

In the bottom of the 10th, a single by Riley Smith and a one-out intentional walk to Ben Mezzenga with first base open preceded Wilson’s game-winning blast.

The Huskers will take on Minnesota in the second game of the series at 1 p.m. Saturday at Siebert Field in Minneapolis.