Category Archives: Huskers News

Nebraska will face St. John’s, Creighton plays Northwestern in 2017 Gavitt Tipoff Games

Nebraska will play St. John’s and Creighton will face Northwestern as part of the 2017 Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual early-season series pitting teams from the Big Ten and Big East.

Reports of the schedule emerged over the weekend, and it was officially announced Tuesday.

The Huskers will travel to St. John’s on Nov. 16, while Creighton will play a road game at Northwestern on Nov. 15. Nebraska’s game will air on Fox Sports 1; Creighton will be shown on either FS1 or the Big Ten Network.

This will be NU’s second time playing in the Gavitt Games, which have been held each of the last two seasons. The Huskers lost to Villanova in 2015. It will be the third Gavitt appearance for CU, which lost to Indiana in 2015 and defeated Wisconsin in 2016.

Nebraska and St. John’s have never played each other in men’s basketball. This will be the sixth meeting between Creighton and Northwestern, with the Jays holding a 2-3 record against the Wildcats.

St. John’s went 14-19 overall and finished eighth in the Big East with a 7-11 conference record last season. It was St. John’s second under All-America alumnus Chris Mullin, who took over as head coach in March 2015.

Northwestern went 24-12 last season and also won the program’s first NCAA tournament game in its first appearance in March Madness.

The 2016-17 season will be the Huskers’ sixth under head coach Tim Miles, who led NU to a 12-19 overall record last season and 12th place finish in the Big Ten.

Creighton enters its eighth year with Greg McDermott as head coach and lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last season.

The 2017 Gavitt Games schedule includes:

> Nov. 13: Minnesota at Providence (FS1)

>> Nov. 14: Purdue at Marquette (FS1)

>> Nov. 15: Butler at Maryland (FS1/BTN), Creighton at Northwestern (FS1/BTN), Indiana at Seton Hall (FS1)

>> Nov. 16: Xavier at Wisconsin (FS1), Nebraska at St. John’s (FS1)

>> Nov. 17: DePaul at Illinois (BTN)

Big Ten baseball tournament notes: Challenges of expansion; Home sweet home and more

The league is as competitive as it’s ever been, said 36th-year Minnesota coach John Anderson during Tuesday morning’s press conference inside Bart Kaufman Field. It’s also as tough as ever to complete a full slate of games.

The addition of Rutgers and Maryland in 2015 made the Big Ten a 13-team baseball conference where a school plays eight of the other 12 programs each season. But the regular-season races since the expansion have been messy, with many top contenders playing fewer than the 24 scheduled games.

That helped the Gophers last season, when their 16-7 league mark topped Nebraska’s 16-8 record for the title. Nebraska benefited this spring at 16-7-1 while Minnesota took third at 15-8.

Anderson said the conference would need to continue to look at factors such as curfew times, rescheduling policies and commercial flights while striving for everyone to complete their full allotment of games.

“As the footprint gets wider and we get farther apart, the challenges become even greater,” Anderson said. “We’re playing in the early springtime here and so we have weather challenges. I think that’s going to (happen) in this league going forward because of the length and width of the league.”

Home sweet home?

Playing at home can be great. Or not.

So was the sentiment from Indiana coach Chris Lemonis, whose school will serve as host of the Big Ten tournament for five days.

The sixth-seeded Hoosiers open with third-seeded Minnesota at 9 a.m. Wednesday and hope to enjoy their own hospitality well into the weekend.

“I had a chance as a young player and as a coach to host a tournament for a bunch of years,” Lemonis said. “And it’s a lot of fun if you’re playing well. So that’s my advice to our guys. When your fans are behind you and you’re playing well, it is a comfort to you. But you’ve got to get out there and there’s expectations and everything else. … I think for our guys, it’s about playing good baseball. I don’t know if the venue is going to change our results as much as how we play the game.”

Omaha and TD Ameritrade Park will be the backdrop for the event for the next five years. Anderson said Omaha has a history of doing college baseball justice, but there’s also something to playing in a Big Ten town on a Big Ten field.

“I think you feel like you’re connected to the conference because you’re at a conference school on your campus,” Anderson said. “… I think it’s fun to be back on a college campus and have the (tournament) venue there.”

Iowa bracing for Maryland ace

Iowa coach Rick Heller’s recollection of the details was slightly off. But his point remained true: Iowa and its band of sluggers have a challenge ahead that looks bigger than the 6-foot-5 pitcher Maryland will throw Wednesday night.

Brian Shaffer, a right-handed junior named the Big Ten’s pitcher of the year on Tuesday, left an impression on the Hawkeyes the last time the teams met in March 2016. He threw 90 pitches in a five-hit, seven-strikeout effort as Maryland won 4-1.

“With facing Shaffer, the last time we saw him, it was an 89-pitch, nine-inning complete-game shutout,” Heller said Tuesday. “So he had a pretty good day against us. The thing about him is he doesn’t make many mistakes.”

The Terps’ ace posted a 1.67 ERA and struck out 98 across 97 innings this spring and will face an Iowa lineup led by Jake Adams, who broke the school’s single-season homer record with 24.

Nick Gallagher (8-1, 2.59 ERA) will go for fifth-seeded Iowa (34-19, 15-9) against fourth-seeded Maryland (34-19, 15-9) in a game set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“Our pitching depth is not the greatest, so it’s really important for us to make sure we try to stay out of the losers bracket,” Heller said. “Our guy, Gallagher, is pretty good, too, so I’m thinking it’s going to be one of those games where whoever takes advantage of the few opportunities they have and who makes the least amount of mistakes will probably win that game.”

Storms on the horizon

Rain and thunderstorms are likely to affect the league tournament’s opening day Wednesday, with four games scheduled beginning at 9 a.m.

Multiple Big Ten coaches said Tuesday — which happened to feature sunny skies and warm weather — that their teams will play when called upon and have experience adjusting to the elements.

Michigan coach Erik Bakich was more to the point.

“Yeah. It’s Big Ten,” Bakich said. “It’s weather. So what?”

Former Husker forward Michael Jacobson picks transfer destination: Iowa State

Former Nebraska forward Michael Jacobson has decided to transfer to Iowa State, according to 247 Sports.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore from Waukee, Iowa, originally signed with the Huskers as the top-ranked player in the state of Iowa in 2015.

Jacobson started every game for NU last season, averaging 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds. He must sit out next season and then will have two years of eligibility.

Big Ten champion Nebraska continues climb in D1 Baseball Top 25

Recently crowned regular-season Big Ten champion Nebraska continued its climb in the D1 Baseball Top 25 on Monday.

The Huskers jumped two spots to No. 21 in that poll, but stayed at No. 22 in Baseball America’s Top 25.

NU is coming off a series victory over Penn State, including Saturday’s 21-3 victory that catapulted the Huskers to a Big Ten title.

The conference tournament is next. Top-seeded Nebraska is scheduled to take on Purdue in the opening round Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Bloomington, Indiana.

Michigan, the only other Big Ten team represented in either poll, came in at No. 16 in D1 Baseball’s rankings and No. 19 in Baseball America’s.

You can see the full rankings below.

D1 Baseball Top 25

Rank, Team, Overall W-L, LW W-L, LW ranking

1, Oregon State, 45-4, 4-0, 1

2, North Carolina, 44-11, 3-1, 3

3, Texas Tech, 42-13, 3-0, 4

4, Florida, 40-15, 2-1, 5

5, Louisville, 46-9, 0-3, 2

6, TCU, 39-14, 3-1, 7

7, LSU, 39-17, 4-0, 10

8, Kentucky, 38-18, 2-2, 6

9, Long Beach State, 35-16, 3-0, 9

10, Stanford, 37-14, 4-1, 11

11, Southern Miss, 44-12, 4-0, 15

12, Virginia, 41-13, 3-1, 12

13, Arkansas, 39-15, 2-1, 17

14, Wake Forest, 38-17, 3-1, 19

15, Arizona, 36-17, 3-0, 18

16, Michigan, 42-13, 3-1, 16

17, CS Fullerton, 33-19, 2-2, 14

18, Clemson, 39-17, 2-2, 13

19, Mississippi State, 34-22, 1-3, 8

20, St. John’s, 40-9, 3-1, 20

21, Nebraska, 34-18, 2-1, 23

22, Missouri State, 37-15, 1-1, 22

23, Oklahoma, 34-20, 0-2, 21

24, UCF, 38-18, 2-2, NR

25, Houston, 36-19, 3-1, NR

Baseball America Top 25

Rank, Team, Overall W-L, LW W-L, LW ranking

1, Oregon State, 45-4, 4-0, 1

2, North Carolina, 44-11, 3-1, 3

3, Texas Tech, 42-13, 3-0, 4

4, Florida, 40-15, 2-1, 5

5, Louisville, 46-9, 0-3, 2

6, Texas Christian, 39-14, 3-1, 6

7, Long Beach State, 35-16, 3-0, 7

8, Louisiana State, 39-17, 4-0, 10

9, Stanford, 37-14, 4-1, 9

10, Kentucky, 38-18, 2-2, 8

11, Virginia, 41-13, 3-1, 12

12, Wake Forest, 38-17, 3-1, 15

13, Arkansas, 39-15, 2-1, 16

14, Cal State Fullerton, 33-19, 2-2, 13

15, Southern Mississippi, 44-12, 4-0, 18

16, Arizona, 36-17, 3-0, 17

17, Clemson, 39-17, 2-2, 14

18, Mississippi State, 34-22, 1-3, 11

19, Michigan, 42-13, 3-1, 19

20, Auburn, 34-22, 2-1, 24

21, St, John’s, 40-9, 3-1, 21

22, Nebraska, 34-18, 2-1, 22

23, Central Florida, 38-18, 2-2, NR

24, Oklahoma, 34-20, 0-2, 20

25, Houston, 36-19, 3-1, NR

Huskers rout Penn State for first conference baseball title in 12 years

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For months, Nebraska stayed steady through the ups and downs of Big Ten Conference play. It endured two dramatic games at Penn State — a walk-off loss Thursday and a tight victory Friday — while fans nervously checked on other scores.

But Saturday was a coronation from the start.

The No. 23 Huskers knew what was at stake. Win, and the outright Big Ten regular-season title was theirs. Lose, and the crown would go to Michigan or Minnesota. Nebraska embraced the pressure in a big way, plating seven first-inning runs in support of a dominant Jake Meyers en route to a 21-3 lashing and its first league title since finishing as co-champion of the Big 12 in 2005.

Every starter touched home at least once as the Huskers scored their most runs and produced their most lopsided triumph in five years. Meyers combined with two relievers on a five-hitter as the Huskers took a 21-0 lead into the ninth, and shortstop Angelo Altavilla squeezed a pop-up for the final out as players spilled out of the third-base dugout to party around the mound at Medlar Field.

“All that hard work pays off,” Meyers told The World-Herald by phone afterward. “The team, we came together through adversity, and it’s a lot of fun celebrating something like that.”

The outright championship is the program’s first in 14 seasons and Nebraska’s first Big Ten title in a major men’s team sport in its sixth year in the league.

After finishing second in the standings two of the previous three springs, Nebraska (34-18-1, 16-7-1 Big Ten) will be the No. 1 seed at the Big Ten tournament in Bloomington, Indiana, when it faces eighth-seeded Purdue at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Senior first baseman Ben Miller, who finished 4 for 6 with three RBIs, said the championship trophy and T-shirts players received afterward are “just like what you see on TV.” But the team doesn’t want this to be the high point of its season.

“Being able to finish it off is a dream come true,” Miller said. “Being able to play as a team this weekend and get a little help elsewhere and take advantage is so awesome. We’re going to celebrate tonight on the bus and have a good time. Other than that, we’re getting back to work, and I’m excited for the rest of the year.”

The Huskers will bus to Pittsburgh and take in a Phillies-Pirates game Sunday before stopping in Columbus, Ohio, on their way to the conference tournament. Nebraska coach Darin Erstad — in his sixth season leading the program — said the team will enjoy its feat until Monday. He added that he’s thrilled for seniors such as Miller and second baseman Jake Schleppenbach to be able to celebrate a title in their final regular-season college game.

“I don’t get too big into the award things, but I understand how big a deal it is,” Erstad said. “I’m more concerned what shape are they leaving the program in, and what they can be really proud of is they’re leaving the program in much better position than when they first got here. They’ve kind of started that cycle, and this is their reward.”

Penn State left-handed starter Eric Mock recorded just two outs — hitting three Huskers and walking a pair — as Nebraska sent 12 men to the plate in the first. Two-run doubles by Miller and Altavilla highlighted the outburst, which marked NU’s best offensive showing in an inning this season outside of a 10-spot against Creighton on April 4.

A Jesse Wilkening hit by pitch with the bases loaded, a double play and a Mojo Hagge RBI single produced three more runs in the second, and the visitors made it 12-0 in the fifth on a Scott Schreiber run-scoring triple and a Miller RBI groundout.

Five more runs came in the sixth, with two-RBI hits by Altavilla and Schreiber and another Hagge RBI single doing the damage. Schleppenbach added a grand slam — his second of the season — in the eighth to push the lead to 21-0.

Meyers was stellar, posting six innings of one-hit ball after struggling through a career-short outing last weekend with a hand injury. He retired 18 of 19 Nittany Lions — allowing just a two-out single to No. 9 hitter Alex Malinsky in the third — before departing with 71 pitches and a career-best seven strikeouts.

The junior and Omaha Westside grad said he felt no ill effects after having three stitches removed from the base of his left pinkie Friday night. He had been spiked while trying to steal second base in a game 10 days earlier.

“I loved every pitch (pitching coach Ted Silva) called,” Meyers said. “I threw my fastball in good locations and a change-up every once in a while to keep them off balance.”

Matt Waldron pitched two scoreless innings before Penn State (18-37, 4-20) scored three runs with two outs in the ninth off reliever Nate Fisher.

Miller and Hagge finished 4 for 6 and were among seven Huskers to collect at least one RBI. Nebraska closes the regular season having won seven of its eight Big Ten series.

“They didn’t stop,” Erstad said. “It’s a credit to them, playing through a tough start to the season and sticking with it, just keep battling. It’s all on them. It’s their team; they did a great job.”

Big Ten tournament: Nebraska vs. Purdue

When: 4 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Kaufman Field, Bloomington, Indiana

Radio: 1600 AM, 105.5 FM Nebraska City

Penn State shocks Huskers with late rally, jeopardizing Big Ten title hopes

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nebraska had a chance to control its own destiny for a Big Ten Conference title. Instead two errors in the ninth inning led to three Penn State runs as the hosts shocked the No. 23 Huskers 8-7 at Medlar Field on Thursday night.

Co-closer Chad Luensmann walked PSU’s No. 8 hitter to start the final frame, and a fielding error put another man on. Mason Nadeau guided an RBI double to left — a perfect relay throw gunned down another runner at home plate — before Nebraska coaxed a second out on a groundout. But with a Nittany Lion at third base in a 7-6 game, Braxton Giavedoni swatted a ball that bounced off the glove of first baseman Ben Miller to tie the contest. Nick Riotto then sent the sparse crowd home happy with a walk-off RBI double to right-center.

The meltdown doesn’t eliminate Nebraska (32-18-1, 14-7-1) from securing its first regular-season league title since 2005. Though the Huskers remain in second place in the standings, wins over last-place Penn State on Friday (5:30 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.) and two Minnesota losses in its series against Purdue would still earn the crown for the Big Red.

Big Ten-leading Minnesota trails the Boilermakers 5-2 in the seventh inning of a game suspended by a power outage Thursday. That game will be followed by a doubleheader in Minneapolis on Friday.

Nebraska had been 31-0 this spring when leading after eight innings and was 184-5 in six seasons under coach Darin Erstad.

“It’s a cruel game, man; this game will chew you up and spit you out,” Erstad said during his postgame radio interview. “For whatever reason, we’ve have a very solid defensive team and we didn’t take care of the baseball. That’s what you get.”

Nebraska committed a season-worst four errors. In addition to the two costly mistakes in the ninth, the Huskers allowed another unearned run in the eighth when Miller dropped the ball after fielding a grounder with two outs.

Erstad said co-closer Luis Alvarado wasn’t available to pitch Thursday because he wasn’t feeling well.

“I just feel really bad for the boys because they put a lot of effort into it, they were excited,” Erstad said. “And for whatever reason, it just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Nebraska appeared to go ahead for good in the eighth inning when Angelo Altavilla produced a two-run double with two outs and Scott Schreiber followed with an RBI hit up the middle to put the visitors ahead 7-4.

But the Nittany Lions (18-35, 4-18) rallied en route to their third win over a top-40 RPI team in the last nine days (West Virginia, Indiana).

Jake Meyers — who finished 2 for 2 with three walks and four runs — immediately put a charge into the Huskers after not hitting or fielding at all last weekend with an injured left hand. The junior leadoff man pulled a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left to start the game for his first home run of the season and third of his career.

But Penn State quickly answered in the bottom of the frame against NU starter Jake Hohensee. A single and stolen base set up Braxton Giavedoni for a one-out RBI hit to right. Then Willie Burger blasted a two-run homer — his team-leading fifth — over the “410” sign in left-center field to give the hosts a 3-1 edge.

Coming off two consecutive rocky starts, Hohensee recovered from the long ball to retire 13 of 14 hitters — including 10 straight — with the only blemish an infield throwing error in the second inning. The right-hander left with one out in the fifth and 69 pitches after allowing two doubles, including an RBI two-bagger by Giavedoni that gave the Nittany Lions a 4-3 edge.

The Huskers worked back against PSU ace Sal Biasi, drawing harmless walks in each of the first four frames. But with the righty’s pitch count mounting, Mojo Hagge tripled to right-center with an out in the fifth and came home on a Meyers RBI single. After an Angelo Altavilla hit, Miller drove in Meyers on a grounder to right to tie the game 3-3.

Nebraska knotted the score at 4-4 in the seventh. Meyers led off with a walk, went to third on Altavilla’s single to right and touched home on Scott Schreiber’s groundout to the shortstop.

Robbie Palkert worked two innings in relief of Hohensee, allowing only the unearned run in the eighth. Luensmann’s three unearned runs in the ninth lowlighted the gut-punch finish.

“We’re going to have to flush this one pretty quickly,” Erstad said, “because we gotta get back on it (Friday).”

CMC Books ’94 Husker ‘Pipeline’ for Summer Golf Tournament

FALLS CITY – The five men who paved the way for Coach Tom Osbourne’s first national championship will be special guests at a golf tournament this summer.

The Community Medical Center in Falls City will host the 7th annual ‘Golf FORE Good Health’ on Friday, June 30th, at Classic Club 8 (formerly Falls City CC) in Falls City. They have booked the five offensive linemen from the 1994 Husker national championship team, popularly known as the ‘Pipeline,’ for the event.

The five men, Zach Wiegert, Brenden Stai, Aaron Graham, Joel Wilks and Rob Zatechka will all be in attendance at the golf tournament and the ‘meet & greet’ fish fry the day before the tournament.

The tournament has snagged other Husker greats in the past with Eric Crouch, Neil Smith and Johnny Rodgers all coming to Falls City in past years for the tournament.

Hospital Marketing & Events Coordinator Linda Santo says they were able to book the guests thanks to friend of the hospital William Reed, who coached football at Omaha Central High School and has connections to many former Huskers.

“Coach Reed has built some great relationships with people in the sports world. He always wants to help out the hospital with our charity golf event because he’s also a scratch golfer,” says Santo.

The two-day event features a fish fry on Thursday at Harkendorff Event Center, with doors opening at 6 p.m. The dinner gives the public a chance to meet the special guests that are set to be there. Husker memorabilia will also be auctioned off that night.

Proceeds from both days will go to the hospital’s general fund, more specifically to offset the costs of an in-house MRI machine that is a part of the hospital’s $10 million renovation project.

Santo says the MRI machine was the perfect thing to earmark for the event, with some of the attendees having extensive football backgrounds.

“Playing football you know concussions are big thing so we wanted to earmark the in-house MRI,” says Santo.

Santo also says a few other big names could end up playing in the tournament.

If you would like to sponsor and play in the tournament and/or attend the fish fry, you can contact Santo at the hospital.

Recruiting: Marquez Beason decommits from Nebraska, admits he committed ‘way too early’

The first player to commit to Nebraska’s 2019 recruiting class is no longer a member of it.

Four-star athlete Marquez Beason from Dallas Bishop Dunne announced Tuesday that he was decommitting from the Huskers about a month after he gave NU his pledge. Beason, a high school teammate of Nebraska signee Damion Daniels, committed to Nebraska when he attended the spring game on April 15.

“After lots of thought and prayer my family and I feel it’s best that I reopen my recruitment process 100% and de-commit from the University of Nebraska,” Beason tweeted. “They will still be a top school in my recruitment process but I made a life decision way too early.”

Beason has received a lot of attention from other colleges since committing to Nebraska. Baylor, Texas and UCLA have all offered since Monday. They followed schools like Ohio State, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee, among others, that have targeted him recently as well.

Beason is a four-star prospect according to the major recruiting services. He’s the nation’s No. 134 overall recruit, according to 247Sports. A versatile athlete, Beason could play receiver or defensive back on the next level.

After signing Daniels in the 2017 class, Nebraska has made Bishop Dunne High School a big focus for future classes as well. The Huskers have targeted Calvin Avery, a potential nose tackle in the 2018 class, as well as Beason and safety Brian Williams in 2019.

Husker women get 2018 commit from Minnesota guard Sam Haiby

The Nebraska women’s basketball team picked up its fourth overall commitment for the 2018 recruiting class Monday night when Moorhead (Minnesota) guard Sam Haiby announced on Twitter she was committing to the Huskers.

Haiby averaged 18.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists in varsity games for Moorhead. According to the Fargo Forum, Haiby had offers from Minnesota, Arizona and Creighton, among other schools.

She plays for the North Tartan AAU girls basketball club; another Husker 2018 commit, Kayla Mershon, also plays for North Tartan.

Haiby has also been a pitcher on the Moorhead baseball team. Yes, baseball.

NU now has four commits for the 2018 class: Haiby, 6-1 Mershon, 6-0 Leigha Brown and 6-2 Ashtyn Veerbeek, who is currently ranked the nation’s No. 51 player by ESPN. Merhson is also a top 100 prospect according to ESPN.

All four of Nebraska’s 2018 commits are from within the Big Ten footprint.

Former Husker walk-on, Fremont star Rylie Cascio Jensen transferring to South Dakota State

Former Nebraska walk-on and Fremont guard Rylie Cascio Jensen is transferring to South Dakota State.

“I just feel like they have a winning culture with an experienced staff, and I related to the girls on the team there really well,” Cascio Jensen said. “It just seemed like the best option for me.”

Cascio Jensen, an All-Nebraska selection with Fremont in 2016, played in all 29 games for NU this past season, averaging 2.3 points and 1.2 assists per game.

Cascio Jensen chose the Jackrabbits over a handful of schools from across the country, ultimately deciding between UNO and South Dakota State.

“I wanted to find a program that was closer to home — at the same time one where I felt we could win quickly.”

South Dakota State finished last season 23-9 overall and 12-4 in the Summit League.

Huskers edge Michigan State to take series, remain atop Big Ten standings

LINCOLN — Senior Day began with news that Nebraska’s ace would take the mound, despite sporting three stitches on his throwing hand. It ended with a potential game-saving catch at the left-field wall.

In between, the bats came alive and the bullpen settled in to push the Huskers to an 8-7 victory over Michigan State that clinched their final home series and keeps them in contention for their first regular-season conference baseball title in a dozen years.

In his return from a hand injury — his left palm was spiked during a base-stealing play last Wednesday — lefty Jake Meyers struggled to find a rhythm on the mound. His 2 2⁄3 innings marked the shortest of the junior’s 21 career starts, and he left after the Spartans produced five runs — four earned — on 66 pitches. The team’s regular leadoff man and center fielder didn’t hit all weekend.

Meyers said the injury didn’t affect his velocity or pitch grips, though he struggled to keep the ball low in the strike zone and hit his target. But he kept a big-picture perspective while watching most of the game from an unfamiliar perch in the dugout.

“Dudes picked me up and the Huskers got a win,” Meyers said. “That’s all that matters.”

Seniors Jake Schleppenbach went 4 for 4 and Ben Miller drove in three runs with a two-hit day in their last games Haymarket Park. Freshman Luke Roskam’s two-out RBI double in the seventh inning proved to be the difference, with his shot into the left-field corner bringing in the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Miller all the way from first base.

“Great crowd, great win against a good opponent,” said Schleppenbach, a Lincoln Pius X grad. “We just battled all day and came out on top, so that was pretty awesome for us.”

With a Spartan on first in the ninth, Chad Luensmann entered for a third straight day and coaxed a 6-4-3 double play. Marty Bechina then sent a 0-2 pitch to the left-field fence, where Mojo Hagge made a jumping catch about a foot below the top of the padding to send the crowd of 4,648 into a frenzy.

“Not as much hair flying around since he shaved his hair off, so that’s good,” coach Darin Erstad said of Hagge. “You make plays and you’ve got a chance to win — he’s made a couple big ones for us. …To go out there in those conditions with the sun and the wind and in that situation, to be able to play a play, that’s pretty spectacular.”

Nebraska (32-17-1, 14-6-1) stays atop the conference standings with a three-game series at last-place Penn State next weekend remaining. It still needs Minnesota to drop one of its final five league contests to win its first Big Ten title by percentage points.

The bright finish didn’t appear likely early. Working at a more deliberate pace than usual, Meyers walked the ninth batter of the season in the first inning but escaped a runners-at-the-corners jam. MSU (27-21, 9-12) tagged him for a run in the second on a Royce Ando RBI hit set up by a throwing error and single to center.

A four-run MSU third knocked the Omaha Westside grad from the game. Chad Roskelly and Dan Durkin homered to left field on consecutive pitches. A sacrifice fly and a double followed before Ando singled in another run off reliever Robbie Palkert to put the visitors ahead 5-3.

The Spartans opened their biggest lead at 6-3 in the fourth, when Matt Byars guided a bloop hit just in front of a sliding Scott Schreiber in right field to plate Bryce Kelley, who led off with a single.

Erstad said NU made the decision to start Meyers based on how the hurler was feeling. As long as the cut stayed closed, coaches would defer to his judgment.

“You could tell he wasn’t as sharp as he normally is, but what do you expect? He probably had to make some adjustments with his grips and stuff,” Erstad said. “But just one of those things where you think about how many times he’s picked us up over the course of the season on Sundays, the least we could do is help him out one time from an offensive standpoint.”

Nebraska got to MSU starter Ethan Landon early and often, forcing the right-handed junior out after 1 1⁄3 innings and 38 pitches. Miller’s two-out RBI single in the first gave the Huskers an early lead, and they took a 3-1 edge in the second on run-scoring hits by Brison Cronenbold and Angelo Altavilla.

Lefty reliever Joe Mockbee — appearing for a third straight game — ended that rally and recorded a 1-2-3 third frame before the Huskers rang up a three-run fourth. A Schleppenbach double, dropped popup at second base and walk preceded Schreiber’s two-run, ground-rule double to right-center with the bases loaded. Miller’s sacrifice fly knotted the game 6-6.

NU collected two more runs off Mockbee in the sixth to move ahead 8-6. With Schreiber at third on a double and throwing error with two outs, Miller singled him home. Miller scored shortly after when Luke Roskam poked a double into the left-field corner.

Michigan State closed to 8-7 in the seventh off reliever Jake McSteen, who allowed a leadoff single and an RBI double from Zack McGuire. NU’s lefty worked around two Spartan singles for a scoreless eighth after picking off a runner and inducing a 5-4-3 double play before giving way to Luensmann in the ninth.

The roller-coaster weekend concluded with Nebraska claiming its sixth Big Ten series in seven tries this season. Schreiber said weathering that kind of drama is invaluable as the Huskers forge closer to the postseason.

“It’s good to have a couple of those games where you have to deal with adversity there — being up and down, lead changes,” Schreiber said. “Having that experience is big, but hopefully we can just carry this momentum into next weekend.”