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Huskers rally late, fall short in defensive battle with Bluejays

Nebraska junior shortstop Angelo Altavilla swings on a pitch in the
Nuskers’ 3-1 loss to Creighton on Tuesday night at T.D. Ameritrade
Park in Omaha. Altavilla went 0-for-4, and is only 1 for his last 18 at
bats.                                                                Photo by Kenny Larabee.

OMAHA -Nebraska (13-12) has only scored one run in the last 21 innings.

The Huskers were shut out for the second straight game, falling to in-state rival Creighton 3-1 on Tuesday night in front of 3,323 fans at T.D. Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

It won’t get easier.

Nebraska, losers in four of its last six outings, are on the road for the next eight games.

“It’s just getting back to the fundamentals,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “You’re going to struggle offensively at certain times during the year. Right now, it’s one of those times. Just have to wear it and keep working hard.

The Huskers started Tuesday’s game on a high note, leading off the top of the first inning with back-to-back singles.

Two foul outs and a line out quickly ended the frame.

Nebraska got back-to-back hits again to lead off the fourth inning. Senior Scott Schreiber led off with a single to right center, which was followed by a single to left by junior Jesse Wilkening.

Wilkening advanced to second on the throw, which prompted Schreiber to try for third. Wilkening was safe, but Schreiber was cut down.

Two at-bats later, the inning was over. Nebraska didn’t reach third base for the entire game, and didn’t put together back-to-back hits for the rest of the night.

In addition, the Huskers were set down in order in the second, third, sixth and eighth innings.

“We didn’t do anything,” Erstad said. “We didn’t even hit the ball. It’s a round ball, round bat, and it’s hard to hit sometimes. We’re having a really hard time hitting the ball now.”

The Huskers were thwarted offensively by Creighton starter Preston Church.

The fifth-year senior and transfer from Western Illinois had a stellar outing, tossing a season-high 6.2 innings, allowing only four hits, no walks and striking out three batters.

Coming in, Church had a 12.19 ERA with 13 strikeouts and 13 walks and a .340 opponent hitting average.

“(Church) threw strikes,” Erstad said. “Didn’t give us anything. A guy that hadn’t thrown strikes really, and he didn’t walk anybody. They don’t give anything, you have to create your own offense and we didn’t do that.”

Offensively for Creighton, the Jays struck quickly in the bottom of the first. Sophomore Isaac Collins got aboard first with a one-out walk, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then with two outs, sophomore Will Robertson drove Collins home with an RBI double to right field.

The Bluejays led 1-0 after the first, and that remained the score until the bottom of the eighth.

Nebraska starting pitcher Nate Fisher (1-4) shook off the tough start, and held Creighton scoreless for the rest of his appearance.

The junior from Yutan, despite taking the loss, had a solid night in what was an otherwise forgetful game for the Big Red.

In 4.2 innings, Fisher allowed four hits, one earned run, two walks and two strikeouts.

Out of 61 pitches thrown, 47 of them were strikes.

“That’s what we always preach,” Fisher said. “Just compete. Compete, throw it over the white and let the (defense) work.”

Junior Mike Waldron came in after Fisher with runners on first and second in the bottom of the fifth with two outs.

Waldron got Nebraska out of the jam and went on to strike out five of his first eight batters, but CU tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 3-0 lead into the final inning.

Junior Byron Hood came in to get the last two outs of the eighth. Waldron tossed 2.2 innings of middle relief.

The Huskers attempted to rally in the top of the ninth. Schreiber led off for the second time in the game with a double to left center, and Nebraska’s only run was batted in by sophomore Luke Roskam, who brought Schreiber home with an RBI single to center.

Freshman Jaxon Hallmark flew out to right in the next at-bat to end the game.

Nebraska will next travel to Columbus, OH to face Ohio State (16-7) in a three-game series. First pitch from Bill Davis Stadium on Friday is set for 5:30 p.m. central. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.



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