LINCOLN — Reece Eddins was commanding his changeup and curveball. Hitters pounded his downhill-tilting fastball into the ground time and again.
Five scoreless innings later, Nebraska may have found its third starter for Big Ten season.
Eddins allowed just one hit while coaxing 10 ground-ball outs and the Huskers rolled past Michigan State 6-2 Sunday afternoon to extend their winning streak to five games and complete their first Big Ten series sweep in more than a year. The senior who returned late last season from Tommy John surgery was sharp throughout a 68-pitch performance that may define his role going forward.
“I’m just trying to give it my all for my teammates,” Eddins said. “I just need to have confidence in my stuff, go out there and pitch like I know I can just like it’s little league. Just go out there and have fun.”
Said Nebraska coach Darin Erstad: “You throw like that, I think I can find a spot on the weekend for him.”
The Huskers (11-7, 3-0 B1G) collected three runs in both the fourth and fifth stanzas to pull away. Cam Chick’s sinking RBI single and a two-run triple from No. 9 hitter Joe Acker put the hosts ahead. An MSU fielding error to begin the fifth sparked another rally, with Jaxon Hallmark and Acker pushing bases-loaded RBI singles to right. Another run came home on a wild pitch.
Chick in particular has been outstanding since an ankle injury to shortstop Spencer Schwellenbach gave him an opportunity last week. The freshman from Rocheport, Missouri, is 8 for 13 (.615) in the span, following a stretch of games where he didn’t play. He went 2 for 5 Sunday and has been nearly flawless at third base.
“They believed in me all year; they still believe in me,” Chick said. “… Anything that you can do to get on, help the team out and put them forward, that’s all I can ask for.”
Michigan State (3-18, 0-3) lost its seventh straight. One of the nation’s worst offenses (3.7 runs/game) managed only a two-run homer in the eighth by pinch hitter Casey Mayes after trailing 6-0. Husker reliever Mike Waldron fired two perfect innings before Ben Klenke allowed the long ball. Freshman Shay Schanaman picked up a one-out save.
Sunday capped a dominant weekend of NU starting pitching. Matt Waldron, Nate Fisher and Eddins combined to allow just two runs, eight hits and one walk in 21 1/3 innings. The defense was error-free until a pair of infield miscues Sunday that ultimately didn’t cause damage.
The Huskers next travel to TD Ameritrade Park to face Creighton in a midweek game scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Tuesday. They play at defending league-champion Minnesota next weekend.
“Considering we didn’t make the conference tournament last year, every game’s going to be important,” Erstad said. “We can’t let that happen again, so this is a start in the right direction.”