OKLAHOMA CITY — In the rubble of Nebraska's 6-5 loss to Oklahoma State late Saturday night, the Huskers didn't have a lot of answers for what had transpired just minutes earlier.

After spending most of the night cooking up the same Bricktown magic that carried the program to four Big 12 tournament titles all those years ago, NU was in position Saturday to reach its first regional championship game since the College World series season of 2005.

Then came a ninth inning that Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said was up there with the best moments he's experienced on a baseball diamond — a titanic blast from the Cowboys' leading home run hitter, Trevor Boone, that capped a four-run ninth inning and a comeback from a 5-0 deficit.

And the Huskers were left to pick up the pieces.

"It's a cruel game, man. It's going to do with you what it wants to. It'll chew you up and spit you out," Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. "It will also give you great times. And we were on the wrong end of that."

As Erstad, Angelo Altavilla, Aaron Palensky and Matt Waldron spoke to the media in a cramped room underneath the stadium, the clock struck midnight in Oklahoma City.

In 12 hours, the Huskers would be back at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark with first pitch against UConn set for noon Sunday in a game that would end the loser's season. 

"It's do or die for us. That's all we really need to tell the guys," said Altavilla, a senior. "And I do not want it to be my last game tomorrow. Not at all."

There isn't much to say when you lose a game the way Nebraska did. And sometimes the fewer words, the better.

Especially when numbers will do just as good a job illustrating the gut punch the Huskers took.

Coming into Saturday's game, Nebraska (32-23) was 29-0 this season when leading after eight innings. Colby Gomes, the true freshman closer with a mid-90s fastball, had allowed one run and four hits over his last five appearances dating to the beginning of May.

Going back even further, since allowing five runs in a February game against Oregon State, Gomes had allowed one earned run and three total runs in his 16 subsequent appearances that included a save Friday against UConn.

But there he was Saturday crouched near the mound as Boone circled the bases and the Oklahoma State faithful roared louder with each step he took toward home plate.

Gomes touched 95 miles per hour on the in-stadium radar gun. Erstad said he was up to 97, and had his best fastball of the season.

But when that fastball is in the wrong spot against the wrong batter, the ball generally goes out faster than it comes in.

"He hasn't backed down from one moment. And when he's throwing 97 miles an hour, he's not backing down — he's going with his best stuff," Erstad said. "(But) with this team you have got to get to certain areas of the plate and stay away from certain areas. And unfortunately a couple balls ran into the wrong areas."

The odds are long for the Huskers to win this regional. Certainly much longer than the would be had NU come away with a win.

Having already spent its two best starters (Waldron and Nate Fisher) and its top long reliever (Robbie Palkert), Nebraska must now win three games in two days to advance to the super regional round.

And to win three, Nebraska has to first win one against a Connecticut team that had 19 hits in the Huskers' 8-5 win Friday.

Erstad wasn't sure what the pitching situation would look like come Sunday. None of the Huskers were sure of much of anything, other than knowing they had more baseball to play.

And 12 hours to figure out how they were going to play it.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

Load comments