Nebraska baseball takes lopsided loss in game two against Maryland (2024)

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Haymarket Park through the years

LINCOLN — In the time it took to throw a pitch, Nebraska was chasing runs. The race quickly became futile for the Huskers in their most lopsided defeat of the season.

The postgame meeting in left field was already likely to be lengthy. Then the Huskers ended an 11-2 loss to Maryland on Saturday afternoon with a runner doubled off first base on a lineout to the shortstop as a season-high Haymarket Park crowd of 5,734 groaned.

“Very, very fitting,” Nebraska coach Will Bolt said. “…That’s a total lack of competitive nature right there.”

Ben Columbus drove in a pair of runs to account for all of Nebraska’s offensive highlights. Maryland (25-15, 6-8) hammered Husker pitching early and added on late while riding a pitcher they weren’t sure they would start entering the weekend.

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Indeed, Saturday set up as optimal for Nebraska with co-ace Mason McConnaughey going against a to-be-determined hurler that became Omar Melendez, a soft-throwing left-hander making his second start with the Terps after mostly serving as a reliever. Instead, the visitors led by five runs and were quickly into the Husker bullpen while Melendez spun a quality outing.

The series rubber match begins at 12:05 p.m. Sunday. And unlike the Huskers’ other six losses in April – all close into the ninth inning – this one requires a more extreme response. Drew Christo is the likely starter, though coaches hadn’t made a decision Saturday afternoon.

“Got punched in the face,” NU shortstop Dylan Carey said. “Gotta go punch back tomorrow. That’s our focus.”

“Tomorrow is obviously a big day,” Bolt said.

Saturday’s action began before the television broadcast was ready – Maryland’s Eddie Hacopian slugged the first pitch he saw way out to left as music played over the ballpark speakers. McConnaughey later lost three hitters with two strikes, with Jacob Orr sending a 2-2 offering back up the middle for a pair of runs and 3-0 lead.

The Terps extended to 5-0 after the second – two singles came around on a wild pitch and Chris Hacopian sacrifice fly – to knock McConnaughey from the game. The Husker starter had gone at least five innings in his previous four outings but lasted just 1 2/3 frames while allowing five runs on five hits and a walk across 37 pitches. The Terps pelted the fastball with the sophom*ore unable to consistently command his slider.

“They just were ready to hit,” Bolt said. “They obviously set the tone and we were on our heels.”

Caleb Clark came on to hold Maryland for a time, retiring 10 of the first 12 Terps he faced. A dunk single to right and an Elijah Lambros blast to center helped chase Clark and Sam Hojnar later greeted reliever Bobby Olsen with a no-doubt three-run homer onto the right-field party deck for an 11-1 lead.

Nebraska had rallied from down 10 this century – coming all the way back to beat North Dakota 11-10 in March 2010 – but didn’t get close Saturday against Melendez. The junior Alabama State transfer struck out six, walked one and scattered six hits over a season high in innings (six) and pitches (99). The only damage came from a red-hot Columbus, who struck a 423-foot homer to right-center in the fourth and added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to make it a nine-run game.

“It was a complete lack of ability to make an adjustment from the offense,” Bolt said. “It was nothing unexpected what we saw. Give (Melendez) credit because he added and subtracted – slow, slow, then fastball up.”

The Huskers measure “grittiness” in the lineup through three categories: winning on 3-2 counts, runners going first to third and “big” hits. They managed just one of each Saturday. NU struck out looking with the bases loaded in the seventh after consecutive strikeouts in the third fizzled a potential rally when the deficit was still just 5-0.

NU finished 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position overall, deepening an April slump of 27 for 110 (.245) in such situations to begin the day. Husker bats once again failed to support the bullpen, which used five relievers and couldn’t get stops until the outcome was decided.

“You don’t win if that’s all you’re getting from your offense,” Bolt said. “It was just highly, highly uncompetitive and very, very disappointing just in terms of having an edge.”



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Nebraska baseball takes lopsided loss in game two against Maryland (2024)
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