LINCOLN — Nebraska baseball’s Sunday winning streak — a 16-game statistical curiosity that spanned parts of three seasons and stretched nearly two years — ended for the Huskers on, well, Sunday, in weather cold and wet enough to see your breath.
It can be hard to score runs in that weather, especially against a pitcher who last week shut down perennial power TCU. Minnesota freshman Patrick Fredrickson silenced Nebraska, too. So did Gopher reliever Max Meyer. The Huskers didn’t advance a runner beyond second base in their 2-0 loss to Minnesota.
As a result, they saw another statistical curiosity end: Nebraska lost the last game of a series for the first time since April 2016. Two streaks gone, and many problems to solve.
The Huskers have to get more hits — they had just four. More walks, too — they had just two. And they have to commit fewer errors — Nebraska had two, both in the same inning, that decided the game.
“When you lose the walk battle and you lose the error battle, you’re probably going to lose,” NU coach Darin Erstad said. “In a game like this, that’s how it worked out. Could still be 0-0 and we played 18 innings. Whoever cracks first loses the game, and that was us.”
Here’s how: In the fifth, a leadoff Gopher single turned into two bases thanks to a fielding error by center fielder Jaxon Hallmark.
After a walk and a sacrifice bunt set Minnesota up with runners at second and third, Gopher left fielder Ben Mezzenga hit a dribbling grounder down the first-base line.
“It was an ideal result,” said Husker starting pitcher Matt Warren, who took his first loss of the season and pitched 4⅔ innings.
But Husker Luke Roskam couldn’t glove the ball, which glanced off his mitt. Two Gophers scored. What was originally ruled a hit turned into NU’s second error of the inning. Erstad agreed it was a tricky play for Roskam, who has played third base and catcher at times this season.
“You try to get him as many reps in practice,” Erstad said. “But, as far as game plays, those are just weird plays around the bag that take funny hops.”
Warren left, and Nebraska’s bullpen — led by Andrew Abrahamowicz’s three scoreless innings — held up.
NU (13-11, 1-2) just couldn’t score. Fredrickson (3-0), who had command of three pitches and what Erstad called a “fantastic change-up,” improved his ERA to 1.72 and consistently put Husker hitters behind in the count.
Only Husker right fielder Scott Schreiber, who had two hits, looked comfortable against Fredrickson, who held TCU scoreless over five innings last week. The Nos. 6-9 hitters in Nebraska’s lineup had six strikeouts, one hit and zero walks.
The bullpen was a bright spot, Erstad said, and Husker hitters “squared up” a few balls, though many went right at Minnesota outfielders.
But the game — and two streaks — came down the smallest details. In chilly, rainy weather, it often does.
“Definitely ready for it to warm up,” Abrahamowicz said. “Coming out here early this morning and putting the tarp on and taking it off — it’s cold and it’s raining, and it’s just not fun. Not fun.”