Playing its final two non-conference home games for the next four weeks, Nebraska broke out the bats at the plate and got steady pitching to upend visiting Northern Colorado 10-5 and 5-1 in a Wednesday doubleheader.
In the first game, Corey Stringer set the pace for the Nebraska lineup. Stringer, a catcher who was batting as the designated hitter, went 3-for-4 with four RBIs as the Huskers built a 7-1 lead after three innings and kept on the pressure all afternoon.
Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad said he was proud of his team's effort on Wednesday, and throughout its homestand where the team went 4-0.
"I think we executed better these last four games," Erstad said. "Our effort and energy have been there in all the games. We've been in them, they just didn't work out. It's good to see the hard work they've been doing pay off, and we have to take that momentum into Louisiana Tech and keep it rolling. Any time you can win two in a day, it's a good day."
Stringer wasn't the only Husker to have a successful day at the plate in the first game. Senior first baseman Kash Kalkowski went 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk, reaching base four times.
Northern Colorado actually jumped to an early lead on an RBI single off Nebraska starter Aaron Bummer. In the bottom of the frame, sophomore outfielder Austin Darby homered to right -- just the third on the season for the Huskers -- and Josh Scheffert had an RBI ground out to give the Huskers a lead.
From there, Bummer, who was making his first career start took over. He lasted three innings, striking out a career-high five hitters. Husker lefty Zach Hirsch controlled the middle innings, allowing one run in four innings and striking out six hitters. On the afternoon, Nebraska pitchers whiffed 12 hitters -- a season high.
Game 2, Nebraska 5, Northern Colorado 1
Nebraska freshman starting pitcher Jeff Chesnut wasn't supposed to go much longer than two or three innings in his first career start, but the freshman impressed, allowing one run in four innings of work to pick up the win.
The Husker pitching staff kept Northern Colorado on its heels, allowing just one hit in the contest, and buying enough time for the Husker bats to get going. Northern Colorado pushed across a run in the first inning, on a sacrifice fly, and got its only hit of the game in the first inning.
Erstad said he liked what he saw from Chesnut, who was around the strike zone all game.
"He's been doing that since he's been here, and not just with his fastball, but his changeup as well," Erstad said. "In that third and fourth inning he was really comfortable and down in the zone and let his sinker work. His pitch count was down so I let him throw another one...it was a good start."
In the bottom of the second, Nebraska loaded the bases, and nearly came away with just one run, but a Northern Colorado error on a sure-fire double play ball extended the inning. With the bases still loaded, sophomore Austin Darby chopped a hit down the third base line to score two runs and take a 3-1 lead. Nebraska added two more runs later in the game, and five relievers combined to blank the Bears.
The sweep improved Nebraska to 4-7 on the season and will take on Louisiana Tech in a three-game series in Ruston, La., which kicks off Friday night.
-- Nebraska freshman Westin Edrignton made his debut for Nebraska in game one against the Bears. Edrington knocked an RBI single on his first at-bat and 1-for-3 at the plate before being lifted for Jake Placzek.
-- Senior first baseman Kash Kalkowski was 5-for-7 on the afternoon, raising his average over 100 points from .179 to .286.
-- Nebraska's weekend rotation at Louisiana Tech will be: Friday – RHP Ryan Hander, Saturday – RHP Christian DeLeon, and Sunday – RHP Brandon Pierce.