Nebraska baseball loses late lead to Cal Poly; drop first home opener in 40 years

Nebraska baseball loses late lead to Cal Poly; drop first home opener in 40 years
Cal Poly's Kyle Marinconz tags Nebraska's Zac Repinski as he slides safely into second base. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — Cal Poly roughed up Nebraska’s short-handed bullpen and a pair of errors proved costly as the Huskers lost 14-8 in their home debut that lasted nearly four hours at Haymarket Park on Thursday afternoon.

With four key relievers out with long-term arm injuries, NU’s scheduled bullpen day became a forgettable one amid 13 Cal Poly hits, 10 walks and three hit batsmen. All six NU pitchers allowed runs, and the visitors went ahead 9-8 in the seventh inning when two errant throws plated three Mustangs on the same play.

The Huskers (6-6) continue their nine-game homestand Friday with a 1:35 p.m. and conclude their series with Cal Poly (6-7) with a doubleheader Saturday starting at 12:05 p.m.

Second baseman Zac Repinski extended his hot streak with a 4-for-5 showing — the senior is 10 for his last 17 overall — and catcher Jesse Wilkening drove in three runs as part of a three-hit day. But any Nebraska offensive exploits were overshadowed by struggles on the mound and in the field (three total errors) as the hosts blew leads of 6-3 and 8-4.

Nebraska scored in three of four innings against Cal Poly starter Michael Clark — last year’s closer — while driving up his pitch count to 101. A fielding error on the shortstop on a would-be double-play ball set up Wilkening’s two-run single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first.

The teams traded three-run second innings from there. Cal Poly got to starter Matt Waldron with a leadoff home run to left by first baseman Tate Samuelson, an RBI single by No. 9 hitter Nick DiCarlo and run-scoring groundout from Alex McKenna. Nebraska countered with a two-run Repinski hit before Wilkening’s shot up the middle chased him home.

A Luke Roskam RBI groundout extended the Big Red lead to 6-3 and Scott Schreiber later boosted it to 8-4 on a two-run double down the left-field line.

Waldron went a scheduled three innings and freshman Keegan Watson tossed a scoreless fourth before Cal Poly drew within 6-4 off the righty with a run-scoring grounder in the fifth.

The visitors took a 9-8 lead with a five-run seventh against relievers Ethan Frazier and Mike Waldron. Two infield throwing errors on one play plated three runs with the bases full for the go-ahead blow after an RBI single and bases-loaded walk. Cal Poly added two runs in the eighth against relievers Byron Hood and freshman Max Schreiber and tacked on three more in the ninth.