EVANSTON, Illinois — Nebraska has struggled recently with runners in scoring position. On Sunday, hits of any kind were a challenge.
The Huskers began the game with a pair of singles, then managed one double the rest of the way in a 10-2 loss to Northwestern. The Wildcats, meanwhile, collected 16 hits and capitalized on three errors to claim the series that wraps up at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
“Not much to say other than we got outcoached and outplayed in all facets of the game,” coach Darin Erstad said during his postgame radio interview. “I hold our guys to a higher standard than that game. But there’s really not one good thing to take out of this game.”
A monthlong offensive slump deepened for the Huskers, who have lost six of eight Big Ten contests. After Aaron Palensky and Cam Chick earned hits to start the game, they cashed in with a Spencer Schwellenbach sacrifice fly to take the early 1-0 lead.
But Northwestern starter Mike Doherty — who entered with a 5.28 ERA — cruised from there over five innings while two relievers finished out the victory. After the first inning, Nebraska (23-18, 12-8 Big Ten) generated four walks and a hit batter other than Joe Acker’s RBI double in the eighth that cut the deficit to 7-2.
The ugliness seeped into the field for the Huskers, who committed two errors as part of a three-run third and another in a two-run fourth. Lefty Nate Fisher battled command over 5⅔ frames, allowing nine hits and seven runs — five earned — while striking out five. Northwestern (21-22, 8-9) tacked on three runs against reliever Mike Waldron.
No. 9 hitter Jack Kelly finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs while leadoff man Jack Dunn added four hits and drove in three.
Erstad said one thing that won’t fix the recent struggles for the Huskers is wallowing.
“Right now it’s a confidence thing,” Erstad said. “You can just see guys, the air’s sucked out of the ball anytime that anything bad happens. They have to get back to having fun playing the game of baseball.”
Schwellenbach, the shortstop, left the game in the fifth after colliding with center fielder Acker on a bloop double in the previous half inning. Erstad said after the game he thought the injury might have been to his ankle.