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Brison Cronenbold hits a homer

Nebraska's Brison Cronenbold is showered with water following a two run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning against Cal Poly on Saturday at Haymarket Park. Nebraska defeated Cal Poly 22-3 in the first game of a doubleheader.

KAYLA WOLF, Journal Star

Nebraska's injury-riddled pitching staff got some relief Saturday.

It came in the form of offense — some serious offense.

The Huskers struck for 13 runs in the sixth inning of a 22-3 triumph against Cal Poly in the first game of a nonconference doubleheader at Haymarket Park.

Nebraska's offense came up big again in the second game, as the Huskers prevailed 13-2 to win the four-game series 3-1 and improve to 9-6 on the season.

Asked if the 35 runs perhaps eased pressure on his depleted pitching staff, Nebraska head coach Darin Erstad said, "That might be the understatement of the year. Just from an offensive standpoint, it was just continuing to pressure (the opponent).

"I think our guys understand that, yeah, we're going to have to put some runs on the board this year and not just rely on winning 4-3 like we've been pretty good at over the last few years."

The Huskers had 30 hits on the day and — get this — even broke a couple aluminum bats along the way. Their 13-run frame in the first game fell short of the program record of 17, which occurred in a 35-15 win against Washington in 1995.

Nebraska's sixth-inning avalanche came against four Cal Poly pitchers. Shortstop Brison Cronenbold capped the onslaught with a two-run home run, his first of the season. Ben Klenke contributed a three-run double, Jesse Wilkening a two-run single and Zac Repinski a run-scoring single.

Nebraska sent 16 batters to the plate in the inning. Cal Poly walked seven of them.

The Huskers drew a total of 12 walks while slugging six doubles. Their 17 hits in the first game were a season high.

Nebraska's 22-run effort fell a run shy of its Haymarket Park record set in a 23-1 win against Nebraska-Kearney in March of 2002, the year the stadium opened.

Nebraska's offense clicked early in the first game as well. Repinski, Angelo Altavilla and Luke Roskam stroked run-scoring doubles in a four-run first inning after Cal Poly (6-10) scored a run in the top half.

Altavilla then roped a two-run single and Klenke a two-run double to highlight Nebraska's five-run second inning, pushing the lead to 9-1.

Altavilla entered the day hitting just .208, Roskam .204 and Klenke .182.

Left-hander Nate Fisher of Yutan was the main beneficiary of Nebraska's uprising at the plate in the opener. In five full innings of work, Fisher allowed one run on eight hits (all singles) with four strikeouts and three walks. He threw 94 pitches while improving to 1-2 on the season.

It was the junior's second career triumph, the first coming last March 25 — also against Cal Poly.

Fisher recognized the importance of Nebraska's pitching staff — with four key relievers out with arm injuries — getting a day to relax a bit.

"The bats came out hot," he said. "That kind of set the tone."

Fisher said his change-up wasn't working particularly well, so he relied on his slider and fastball.

"You just have to know what you've got on that day — you're not always going to have your best stuff," he said.

Nebraska senior right-hander Matt Warren, the second-game starter, didn't necessarily have his best stuff. But once again, the Husker offense took pressure off the pitchers. The Huskers put the Mustangs on their heels with a four-run first inning, highlighted by the left-handed hitting Roskam's two-run double down the left-field line.

In the second inning, Schreiber slammed his second home run of season, a three-run shot to push Nebraska's lead to 7-0.

Cal Poly, picked to finish third in the nine-team Big West, never was a serious threat.

"That was one of the better doubleheader days I've ever seen," Erstad said. "You just rarely see a team keep that much pressure on for two games in a row."

Warren needed 47 pitches to get through three innings, but seemed to find his rhythm as the game progressed — that is, until Alex McKenna walloped a two-run homer to pull Cal Poly to within 8-2 in the sixth inning.

A transfer from Creighton, Warren (2-0) pitched 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

Relievers Mike Waldron, Byron Hood and Zack Engelken finished the game for Nebraska, which returns to action Tuesday with a 1:35 p.m. home game against Northern Colorado.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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