Northeastern built a four-run lead in its opening game of this year’s NCAA Division 1 baseball tournament, but its bats went cold and its pitching faltered as Nebraska came back to win, 8-6, on Friday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Huskies (36-11), third seed in the four-team Fayetteville regional, will need to beat fourth-seeded NJIT (26-23) at 3 p.m. Saturday to avoid elimination. The Highlanders (26-23) built a 3-0 lead in their first-ever NCAA tournament game Friday, but No. 1 overall seed Arkansas came back to win, 13-8. They’ll play Nebraska at 9 p.m.
Northeastern led, 4-0, through three innings after Cotuit’s Danny Crossen led off the second with his first collegiate home run, then tacked on three more in the third on three hits, highlighted by Amesbury’s Jared Dupere knocking a two-RBI single. (Dupere scored the other run on a wild pitch.)
The bullpen for Nebraska (32-12), however, led the Cornhuskers back into the game. While junior Koty Frank (3-0) retired the first 11 Huskies he faced in order, the Huskers scored seven times. Cam Chick slugged a three-run homer in the fourth, the Big Ten champions building a two-out rally from a walk by NU starter Sebastian Keane of North Andover.
A one-out triple by senior Jaxon Hallmark off Barnstable’s Wyatt Scotti (4-2) keyed Nebraska tying it, 4-4, in the fifth. They went up, 7-4, in the sixth on three singles, a walk, and a balk, then made it 8-4 in the seventh against NU’s Eric Yost.
The Huskies finally got rid of Frank, drawing two leadoff walks to begin the eighth, and loaded the bases when Crossen was hit by a pitch. They could only get within two, however, Walpole’s Ian Fair singling to make it 8-6 with one out. Spencer Schwellenbach then entered, getting two ground balls to leave the bases loaded, then working around Max Viera’s leadoff single in the ninth for his 10th save.