With the score tied in the bottom of the fifth inning in the second game of the Nebraska baseball team's weekend series with Iowa, it appeared as though the Huskers had the Hawkeyes right where they wanted them.
The Hawkeyes then exploded in the half inning for eight runs en route to a series-clinching 17-9 victory over the Huskers (21-13, 10-4 Big Ten) Saturday in Iowa City.
"Nobody on with a 1-2 count and two outs, and it turns into an eight-spot," Husker head coach Darin Erstad said. "Not to mention, I think we gave up all 17 runs with two outs. You can't make that up."
Nate Fisher started on the mound for the Huskers and held Iowa in check for the first three innings before allowing three runs in the fourth. Trailing 3-1, Nebraska responded in powerful fashion.
Spencer Schwellenbach launched his second home run of the season over the left-field wall, and in the ensuing at-bat, Aaron Palensky followed with a blast over the left-center field wall to even the score. It was the first time Nebraska hit back-to-back home runs since 2016.
From there, it was all Iowa. The Hawkeyes scored eight runs on seven hits to ensure the victory. The big blow came on Izaya Fullard's two-run blast off Fisher, eliminating him from the game after 4 2/3 innings pitched.
Fisher exited after allowing seven runs (four earned) on five hits, while striking out three. His third strikeout in the fifth inning was his 100th as a Husker.
"His first few innings, he looked awesome," Erstad said. "He looked really good even in that inning, and we had a chance to get out of that inning, but we couldn't corral the groundball, and here we go."
Mike Waldron entered in relief and allowed four more runs to score, two of them earned. After playing superb defensively in the series opener, the Huskers committed three errors Saturday.
The runs didn't stop there for the Hawkeyes, however, as Iowa pounced on Tyler Martin the following inning for five runs on five hits. At that point, it was all but over.
Still, Nebraska did its best to battle back at the plate, scoring once in the seventh and eighth, before Angelo Altavilla blasted a three-run home run in the ninth to make the final 17-9.
"You look up there and we kept putting runs up there on the board," Erstad said. "Might not seem like a big deal, but our boys aren’t going to quit."
Now, the Huskers will turn their attention to the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Have to reset. Lose a heartbreaker (Friday), then get your teeth kicked in. … Every game counts, so we need to salvage the series tomorrow," Erstad said.