Huskers blank Michigan, 1-0, win series opener
Cade Povich (6-1) allowed only four hits and struck out nine, including an immaculate first inning where he struck out all three Wolverines on just nine pitches.
LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Athletics) – Three Huskers combined on a four-hit shutout to lead the Nebraska baseball team to its ninth straight win with a series-opening 1-0 victory over Michigan Friday afternoon in front of a season-high 5,434 fans at Hawks Field.
Cade Povich started and earned the win after matching his career high by going 7.0 innings. Povich (6-1) allowed only four hits and struck out nine, including an immaculate first inning where he struck out all three Wolverines on just nine pitches. Jake Bunz tossed a scoreless eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts before Spencer Schwellenbach pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his eighth save of the season. The shutout was Nebraska’s Big Ten-leading sixth of the season.
Schwellenbach also scored the only run of the game, coming home on a two-out RBI single from Luke Roskam in the bottom of the sixth inning. That was the only run Michigan ace Steve Hajjar allowed in a complete-game effort. Hajjar (4-1) tossed a four-hitter but suffered the first loss of his career after entering the game with a 7-0 career record.
Offensively for Nebraska, each of the top four hitters in the Husker lineup singled to account for the Huskers’ four hits. Joe Acker was 1-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, while Jaxon Hallmark was 1-for-3 with a walk and Schwellenbach and Roskam also finished 1-for-3.
Nebraska improved to 30-11 with its ninth straight win, while Michigan fell to 26-16 with the loss.
Povich came out firing in the first inning with three strikeouts on nine pitches. He picked up his fourth straight strikeout to start the second before Michigan put its first ball in play, a fly out to center field.
The Huskers put a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the first following a one-out walk and a Michigan error, but Hajjar got out of the jam with a pair of fly outs.
Nebraska notched a pair of hits in the third but had nothing to show for it. Acker lined a single to left-center field but was cut down at second trying to stretch the single into a double. Hallmark followed with an infield single and then was picked off 1-3-4 to end the inning.
Povich retired 10 straight to start the game before he hit Clark Elliott with one out in the fourth. Povich responded with his seventh strikeout of the day and a fly out to strand Elliott at first.
Michigan got its leadoff man on for the first time in the game with a walk in the fifth and Tito Flores followed with UM’s first hit of the game to put a pair of runners on with no out. Griffin Mazur tried to advance both runners with a sacrifice bunt, but struck out after fouling off his third attempt. Povich then got a fly out and ended the frame with his eighth strikeout to keep the game scoreless.
Michigan had a runner in scoring position in the sixth inning when Elliott roped a one-out double and later was at third with two outs, but Povich again tossed up a zero with an inning-ending strikeout.
Nebraska then plated the game’s only runs with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth. Schwellenbach got the rally started with a line drive to left field, NU’s first hit since the third inning. With Roskam at the plate, Schwellenbach swiped second and then Roskam drove an 0-2 pitch through the left side for a RBI single that gave the Huskers a 1-0 lead.
Working with a lead, Povich retired the leadoff hitter in the top of the seventh. Flores then doubled to right-center field, but was thrown out at third attempting to stretch his hit into a triple on a strong throw from Acker in right and a perfect relay throw from second baseman Brice Matthews. The throw out at third loomed large after the next Michigan batter singled to left field.
Povich exited the game after seven innings, but Michigan managed only a walk in two innings against the Husker bullpen. After the Wolverines stranded a runner at first base with one out in the eighth, Schwellenbach needed only eight pitches to close out the game in the top of the ninth.
Game two between the Huskers and Wolverines is scheduled for Noon tomorrow and will be carried on BTN.