LINCOLN — Nebraska overcame the worst start of Luis Alvarado’s pitching career with its biggest comeback in two years, turning an early seven-run hole into a stirring 17-8 victory Saturday afternoon.
Freshman Jaxon Hallmark cracked his first collegiate home run — a two-run shot off the “Fowl Pole” in left — for the go-ahead blow in the seventh inning. The Huskers churned out 16 unanswered runs to even the weekend series ahead of Sunday’s crucial 1:05 p.m. tilt between two teams with distant postseason hopes.
Maryland led 4-0 just five batters into the game as outfielder Zach Jancarski unloaded on a fastball up in the zone for a no-doubt grand slam to left-center field. The visitors extended the lead to 8-1 in the second on a pair of two-run hits after Alvarado walked the bases loaded.
The start was the shortest in Alvarado’s career, who only began pitching at Nebraska last season before moving into the weekend rotation this spring. Of the senior right-hander’s 61 pitches, just 26 went for strikes in 1⅓ innings. He issued six walks and allowed two hits, which turned into seven earned runs.
Scott Schreiber’s 250th career hit — a solo shot in the first inning — accounted for Nebraska’s first run. His 17th long ball this season was career No. 43, which puts him alone in fifth in program history and one behind Alex Gordon. He finished 2 for 3 to move into a fifth-place tie with Michael Pritchard (251) on NU’s all-time hits list.
Maryland junior righty Hunter Parsons hadn’t permitted more than three runs in any outing since his season debut in mid-February. But in his 11th start, Nebraska made him work in almost every inning and he departed after 4⅓ innings having allowed seven runs and eight hits.
The Huskers scored 16 unanswered runs starting with a three-run third as Ben Klenke singled in two and Hagge collected an RBI groundout. Roskam added an RBI double in the fourth. In the fifth, a Roskam sacrifice fly and Angelo Altavilla double brought home two more to draw NU within 8-7.
After a double play thwarted a potential rally in the sixth, the Huskers broke through with Hallmark’s blast in the seventh to take their first lead. Ben Klenke tacked on an RBI single later in the frame.
A seven-run eighth left no doubt of the outcome. Altavilla smashed a three-run homer and junior Alex Henwood got into the act with his first career long ball — a two-run shot well past the wall in right. Jesse Wilkening and Roskam mixed in RBI hits.
Nebraska relievers, meanwhile, paved the way for the rally. Nate Fisher retired nine straight and 10 of his last 11 while Reece Eddins — the winning pitcher — followed by giving up just a single in two otherwise perfect innings. Senior closer Jake Hohensee tossed a pair of scoreless frames to nail down his 10th save.