(Photo – Kenny Larabee)
The Huskers had been humming along before Tuesday night happened. Last week, they dismantled K-State 7-0 and then followed up that performance with a 17-0 beat down of the Boilermakers this past Friday. They would go on to sweep Purdue at Haymarket Park this past weekend, scoring a combined 39 runs over the series.
However Tuesday night, Nebraska had their four game winning streak come to a screeching halt, after getting thrashed by the Creighton Bluejays 10-2. “We got punched and we didn’t fight back,” junior outfielder Joe Acker told reporters on Wednesday. “If you know anything about our team, that’s not typical of our team.”
“Yeah it was kind of a head scratcher,” head coach Darin Erstad said. “… I’m hoping they got it all out of their system because that was definitely not the team that I’ve been around.”
Now, NU needs to regroup as they prepare to face Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania this weekend. The Nittany Lions are just 1-7 in Big 10 play thus far. According to WarrenNolan.com, Penn State is ranked 152nd in the RPI, fourth worst in the conference.
Nebraska on the other hand, is ranked 48th in the RPI and is tied for second place in the Big 10 standings. However, Erstad won’t be taking Penn State lightly. “They are a lot better, especially on the mound,” Erstad said. “They had a really good record going into conference play and they’ve played some pretty good teams and they’ve lost some close games.” Overall on the year, the Nittany Lions have a record of 17-12.
Erstad will be going with the same starting rotation this weekend, which is led by senior right hander Matt Waldron. Waldron has been enjoying an excellent season. He’s 4-0 and has an ERA of 1.64. After spending some time in the weight room during the offseason, Waldron has upped his game, according to Erstad.
“The biggest thing for Matt this year is he’s taken an uptick in his stuff just a little bit,” Erstad said. “That makes the changeup that much better, (it) makes the slider just a little bit sharper, and he’s been able to maintain it.”
Waldron has taken his fastball up in velocity as well. He’s been able to reach higher velocities consistently, with speeds reaching as high as 92 mph. Last year, Waldron’s fastball averaged speeds in the mid to high 80s, according to Erstad.
Also, the Husker’s lineup will be bolstered by the return of Spencer Schwellenbach. The freshman played his first game Tuesday since he picked up an ankle injury against Air Force on March 20th.
It’s been an agonizing wait for Schwellenbach, who was forced to look on from the dugout for about two and a half weeks. “You wouldn’t be able to imagine,” Shwellenbach said. “Watching my teammates out there play, especially in the games that we lost, knowing that maybe I could’ve done something for our team to win…”
In 16 games, Schwellenbach is averaging .316 at the plate and has 6 RBIs. He’s drawn 12 walks and has struck out 14 times.
While Schwellenbach will be on the road to recovery, Nebraska is on a similar path, trying to correct course after having their momentum stopped in its tracks by Creighton. The team though, is feeling confident, despite the roadblock they hit Tuesday night. “We’re coming in to Penn State this weekend expecting to come away with three wins,” Acker said.
Coverage for Nebraska and Penn State can be found on KLIN, starting on Friday at 5 o’clock. First pitch is set for 5:30.