LINCOLN — An eight-hour day at the ballpark went so well for Nebraska that even Zac Luckey couldn’t stay down about having to wear a uniform with his name misspelled in his first career start.
The true freshman and Creighton Prep grad manned third base and hit with “Lukey” across his back for the second half of a Saturday doubleheader with Cal Poly at Haymarket Park. He didn’t let it stop him from getting in the act with a pair of infield hits and a walk.
“Of course the first game I go in, it’s with the wrong jersey, you know?” Luckey said with a wry smile. “… Really, really unfortunate it happened like that, but, oh well. We still got to play baseball, so that’s all that mattered.”
Oh, did the Huskers play baseball. They opened the day by coming up one run short of tying the 16-year-old park single-game scoring record during a 22-3 victory then came back half an hour later for a dominant 13-2 win in which they led by seven after two innings.
Cal Poly (6-10) needed 10 pitchers and 411 pitches to get through the two games , while Nebraska (9-6) received solid starts from left-hander Nate Fisher and senior righty Matt Warren to help take the pressure off a struggling bullpen working through multiple injuries.
“That was one of the better doubleheader days I’ve ever seen,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “You just rarely see a team keep that much pressure on them for two games in a row.”
A 13-run sixth inning against four Mustang relievers turned an already lopsided game into Nebraska’s largest margin of victory in six years. The Big Red already led 9-2 before sending 16 batters to the plate in the sixth. The outburst also included seven walks and a hit batsman.
Incredibly, Nebraska only outhit its opponent 17-15 despite the blowout. All 15 Cal Poly hits were singles in that contest, as were 36 of 39 in the weekend series.
Fisher skirted trouble time and again through five innings. He stranded eight baserunners, escaping with double plays in the first and fifth and getting strikeouts with two on in the other three innings. The Yutan product said his change-up — his best pitch — wasn’t working , and he relied on a slider/fastball mix .
Afterward, he just watched as his offense poured on the support. Nine Huskers collected RBIs in the opener.
“They have a little heater in the bathroom down there so I was trying to stay warmer there,” Fisher said. “Just sit there and watch them score runs, it was awesome. It’s not a bad thing.”
Senior infielder Zac Repinski continued his hot stretch with a 3-for-6, two-RBI outburst in the onslaught. Ben Klenke drove in five runs, Jesse Wilkening batted in four and senior shortstop Brison Cronenbold — a junior college transfer — smacked his first Nebraska home run.
The sixth-inning binge fell four runs shy of the school-record 17 the Huskers hung on Washington in an inning in 1995.
Cal Poly 6-foot-8 freshman starter Darren Nelson set the tone for the game and the day, lasting one-plus inning and giving up six runs (five earned) before the Mustangs dove into their bullpen.
Fisher went 94 pitches before giving way to freshman Andrew Abrahamowicz (two innings, two runs) and junior lefty Mitch Steinhoff (a scoreless eighth and ninth).
In the nightcap, the Huskers soared to an 7-0 lead after two innings. Scott Schreiber slugged a three-run homer in the second inning after a four-run first included a two-run double from Luke Roskam and sacrifice flies by Wilkening and Jaxon Hallmark.
“I think we’ve kind of just been waiting to burst out this year and it showed in that first game,” shortstop Angelo Altavilla said. “And the second game today, it just kind of carried over.”
Altavilla poked an RBI single in the fifth , and Repinski added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to further boost Nebraska’s lead late. A four-run eighth included RBI singles from Altavilla and Hallmark and a Roskam two-run hit.
Warren, meanwhile, threw 91 pitches and picked up his second victory of the season. After stranding two runners in the first inning, he retired 11 of the next 13 batters — two Mustangs reached on a hit by pitch and a Luckey error — before Alex McKenna launched a two-run shot to left to trim the Nebraska lead to 8-2.
Mike Waldron pitched 1 1/3 scoreless relief innings, and Zack Engelken closed it out after junior righty Byron Hood walked two of three batters he faced in the eighth.
Numerous hitters broke out of early -season slumps in the doubleheader. Schreiber had been in a 3-for-20 funk entering Saturday but went a combined 4 for 8. Altavilla was 7 of 41 (.171) coming into the weekend but went 7 for 13 in the four-game set. Roskam went 4 for 8 with six RBIs Saturday to bring his season average up to .246.
“Our morale was at a team high,” Luckey said. “We were just really vibing with each other, we were having a lot of fun. No one was really stressed out or overanxious to perform because we know what we could do against this team, we know we were better.”
Nebraska continues its nine-game homestand when it opens a midweek pair against Northern Colorado at 1:35 p.m. Tuesday . Erstad said Saturday’s blitzing could springboard the offense into next week — or it could go the other way if the Huskers aren’t careful.
“It can also get you a little inflated ego too, where you think you’re better than you really are,” Erstad said. “We have to remember what got us here. We have done a really good job for the most part this season of grinding out our at-bats, especially with two strikes. We did that, and now we’re finding some holes doing that. And we’re doing a good job early in the count getting our swings off as well.
“Remember that that’s what we were doing and now the results are coming, but that’s what we want to do all the time.”
Cal Poly……………….100 001 100— 3 15 2
At Nebraska…….450 00(13) 00X—22 17 1
W: Fisher (1-2). L: Nelson (2-1). 2B: NU, Repinski, Altavilla, Luckey, Roskam, Klenke. HR: NU, Cronenbold.
Cal Poly (6-10)…………..000 002 000— 2 4 1
At Nebraska (9-6)…….430 011 040—13 13 1
W: Warren (2-0). L: Triantos (0-1). 2B: NU, Repinski, Roskam. HR: CP, McKenna; NU, Schreiber.