Creighton pitchers quiet Husker bats to hand Nebraska first home loss of season

Creighton pitchers quiet Husker bats to hand Nebraska first home loss of season
Nebraska's new basketball coach Fred Hoiberg waves to the crowd after throwing out the first pitch. BRENDAN SULLIVAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Jake Holton is still getting used to this whole Creighton-Nebraska rivalry. He’s from California, but he knows a little baseball animosity when he hears it on the field.

The first baseman also felt it from the first-base dugout in front of 5,870 Tuesday night at Haymarket Park. Man, he thought, it would be nice if his team played well tonight.

He and the Bluejays didn’t need long. His two-run blast over the left field wall set the tone early, and a parade of Creighton pitchers took a shutout into the seventh inning Tuesday in a cathartic 10-2 victory that atoned for a 6-3 loss in Omaha last month.

“First time was a little shaky for us,” said Holton, a junior. “Glad we were able to come out on top this time.”

What CU coach Ed Servais labeled the Jays’ best game of the year was one Nebraska coach Darin Erstad told players to “flush” immediately after. Husker starter Kyle Perry couldn’t complete three innings in his worst midweek start in four tries, and a series of defensive mistakes allowed the visitors to pile on.

In all, the outcome was the most lopsided in Creighton’s favor since 2010.

“It was apparent that this wasn’t one of our better games,” Erstad said. “So I’m hoping we got it all out of the way all in one game, because that was a clunker.”

The Bluejays shackled NU while building a 10-run lead into the seventh. Two walks and two singles were all the hosts could muster through six innings against starter Denson Hull (two innings), Ben Dotzler (12⁄3), Paul Bergstrom (12⁄3) and John Sakowski (2⁄3). Creighton used seven pitchers — Servais made sure no Husker hitter saw the same hurler twice — in a game that introduced 15 pitchers overall.

Creighton (17-7) knocked Perry from the game in the third inning. Following Holton’s ninth homer of the spring in the opening frame, the visitors loaded the bases on two hit batsmen and a walk in the third before Jack Strunc doubled home a pair as part of a two-hit, four-RBI night.

“We just said, ‘Hey, let’s be aggressive,’” Servais said. “And I think Jake’s home run in the first inning really got us going.”

CU added a run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth following a dropped foul popup, then scored four more in the seventh highlighted by RBI hits from Holton and Strunc.

Nebraska’s second most lopsided loss of the season began on a high note when new men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg threw the ceremonial first pitch — a breaking ball for a strike. It ended in the Huskers’ first midweek loss in five tries and its first defeat in nine games at Haymarket Park.

Freshman shortstop Spencer Schwellenbach (sprained ankle) returned from an 11-game absence and went 0 for 2 before he was lifted as he eases back into a routine. Reliever Chad Luensmann also walked a pair of Jays and didn’t record an out in his first action in a month after recovering from a cut finger.

Erstad said the Huskers “wasted” a day with beautiful weather and a big crowd. Pitchers walked five batters and hit three more, defenders missed a cutoff man amid a sluggish effort and hitters uncharacteristically swung early and saw a total of just 129 pitches.

Both schools return to league play this weekend. Nebraska (17-10) is at Penn State while CU is at Butler. The rubber game of the in-state series is set for April 23 at TD Ameritrade Park.

“That’s not our team that you guys saw tonight,” freshman first baseman Colby Gomes said. “That’s not us. We’re just going to flush it and move on from that.”