With new mentality, Nebraska baseball starts Ohio State series on right foot

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nebraska rode a careerlong start by Luis Alvarado and Scott Schreiber continued his hot hitting as the Huskers topped Ohio State 7-3 on Friday night.

Alvarado, a senior who hadn’t gone more than seven innings in his first year as a college starting pitcher, went 72⁄3 innings on 105 pitches. After falling into a 3-0 deficit in the second inning, he allowed just two singles and two hit batters the rest of his outing to help NU end a seven-game losing streak in series openers.

“To be completely honest, I think everybody just said, ‘Screw it,’ ” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said during his postgame radio interview. “Guys are trying way too hard, things aren’t going our way and you can tell they weren’t having fun playing. Like I told them, I said, ‘If you’re going to be miserable, at least have fun being miserable.’ And guys started going out there and Scotty gave us a jolt and Louie really settled down. We found a way.”

Schreiber went 3 for 5, swatting his team-leading seventh home run to left field to begin the fourth inning and adding an RBI single in the fifth to extend his scorching stretch to 12 for 20. The Huskers (14-12, 2-2) went ahead for good in the fifth when a throwing error at third base allowed a run to score after Joe Acker singled.

“I’m just trying to keep things simple, especially staying through the ball, staying toward that right-center gap, especially with the fastball,” Schreiber said during a postgame interview on the Big Ten Network. “If they throw me an off-speed (pitch), I’m able to react to it. But just sticking to my approach and making sure that I continue to work on that each and every day.”

A run-scoring triple from Mojo Hagge and RBI hit by pinch hitter Ben Klenke in the ninth extended the lead to 7-3. NU tied the game 3-3 in the fourth on Schreiber’s homer, an RBI groundout from Jaxon Hallmark and a two-out hit from freshman Gunner Hellstrom to chase home Zac Repinski.

Ohio State starter Connor Curlis posted 62⁄3 innings of seven-hit ball and struck out eight. But Nebraska was 4 for 6 with runners in scoring position while the Buckeyes ended 0 for 7.

Ohio State (17-8, 0-1) jumped ahead early with Noah McGowan’s RBI double in the first and Nate Romans’ two-run homer in the second. But Alvarado settled in from there, allowing seven total hits and one walk while striking out five. Erstad said he saw the best fastball command of the season from the senior.

Jake Hohensee recorded his sixth save of the spring while notching the final four outs, including a strikeout with the bases loaded in the ninth.

The teams return to action at 12:05 p.m. Saturday for the second game of the series before Sunday’s 11:05 a.m. finale. Both games will air live on KNCY 1600 AM, 105.5 FM in Nebraska City.

“When this group does that and they go play, they have a chance to be alright,” Erstad said.

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