OKLAHOMA CITY — Alex Henwood has had his share of health issues this season, mostly dealing with a shoulder that doesn't like to stay in its socket.

The senior second baseman had more issues with body parts not staying in place Friday, this time located a little north of the shoulder.

In what can only be described as a bizarre play in the bottom of the first inning, Henwood had multiple teeth knocked loose, and at least one knocked out, while trying to field a throw at first base.

"He's pretty messed up. It's pretty swollen. Just a weird, freak thing," Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. "It was very similar to Angelo (Altavilla). Maybe not quite the damage Angelo had, but similar."

Altavilla last season was hit in the face by a windblown foul ball and suffered fairly serious facial damage.

While Henwood's wasn't quite that severe, it was still enough to warrant a trip to an Oklahoma City dentist for some reconstructive work. Television cameras later showed Henwood in the Nebraska dugout doing his best impression of a hockey player, sporting a swollen lip and a hole where one of his teeth used to be.

Kyle Kotrous, a Nebraska equipment manager, said the missing chomper was found on the infield grass near first base after the game.

After a UConn single to lead off the game, Huskies shortstop Anthony Prato laid down an excellent bunt to the first-base side of the infield with Henwood coming over to cover. Prato's helmet fell off as the UConn shortstop hustled down the line and appeared to get into Henwood's line of vision enough that he couldn't glove the throw.

With Henwood out of the game, Nebraska juggled its lineup, sending Jaxon Hallmark to second base and bringing Mojo Hagge in to play left field. Hagge's struggles against left-handed pitching this year had him on the bench to begin Friday.

"Coach always says to be ready for when your number's called, and it was a little bit sooner than what I expected for this game," Hagge said. "But as soon as he told me to grab my glove and go out to left field, I was ready to go, and go out there and just compete."

Hagge finished 1-for-4, with a bunt single in his first at-bat against UConn lefty Mason Feole.

While Erstad was unsure of Henwood's status immediately after the game, don't rule out a return to the field for the senior.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to try and play," Erstad said.

Waldron likely to start Saturday: Nebraska's coaching staff switched things up with their pitching rotation Friday, giving normal Saturday starter Nate Fisher the ball in place of Matt Waldron.

It worked out, and now the Huskers have their season-long Friday starter available for Saturday's regional semifinal.

"Like I always say, you're trying to win the tournament. And we felt that Matt would be a better matchup for somebody else," Erstad said. "And Nate's been every bit as good as Matt's been this year. He's just fine handling the moment. All those things kind of played into it, and it just kind of made sense."

Field conditions: It's been an unforgiving spring weatherwise in Oklahoma, and Bricktown Ballpark showed the effects of that stress.

The area between the pitcher's mound and home plate was brown in several spots and had pieces of sod in others to try and patch damage.

With the Big 12 Tournament being played on the field last week, and the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers using the field the rest of the time, there hasn't been much time for the Bermuda grass infield to take root.

There was still a familiar feel for Husker fans. A faded Big 12 logo was painted behind home plate, and each on-deck circle featured a Big 12 logo as well.

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.

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