The Ohio State baseball team (17-8, 0-1 Big Ten) got off to a hot start, scoring three times against Nebraska starter Luis Alvarado in the first two innings.
But the Cornhusker ace blanked the Buckeyes over the next 6.1 innings and Nebraska (14-12, 2-2 Big Ten) finished off a 7-3 win in the Buckeyes’ conference opener Friday night.
“We tried to control [Alvarado]’s rhythm a little bit, but he was pounding the strike zone,” head coach Greg Beals said. “Give his competitive spirit credit, because he got popped in the mouth early in the game and stayed in there and kept competing.”
With no outs and a runner on first in the fifth inning, Husker junior shortstop Angelo Altavilla laid a sacrifice bunt attempt down the third base line. Third baseman Conner Pohl threw the ball away, allowing Nebraska sophomore center fielder Joe Acker to score on the throwing error. Altavilla later crossed home plate on a single by senior first baseman Scott Schreiber to give Nebraska the 5-3 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, a pinch-hit single, a fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases with two outs for Ohio State junior second baseman Brady Cherry. Nebraska closer Jake Hohensee shut down the opportunity and polished off his sixth save of the season with his third strikeout.
Junior Connor Curlis started on the mound for the Buckeyes and was nearly unhittable through three innings, sitting down nine of 10 batters with four strikeouts. But the game began to unravel in the fourth inning.
Schreiber smacked his team-leading seventh home run of the season, a no-doubter over the left field fence. Senior second baseman Zac Repinski kept things going with a one-out double to put two runners in scoring position. Both runners scored on a ground ball and a single to even the game at three.
Curlis finished with eight strikeouts, surrendering three earned runs in 6.2 innings of work.
Ohio State extended its early lead when redshirt junior designated hitter Nate Romans deposited the 1-0 pitch directly above the 400-foot sign in center field during the bottom of the second inning that put the Buckeyes ahead 3-0.
“He came at me with the changeup first pitch and he didn’t hit with it, so I was sitting fastball and he left it up,” Romans said. “It’s kind of funny too, because we’ve got these new bat regulations and stuff and the wind was blowing in.”
Nebraska scored two insurance runs in the eighth inning, closing the door on a potential Buckeye comeback.