LINCOLN — Freshman Jeff Chesnut walked on to the Nebraska baseball program last fall with two pitches in his arsenal and no real expectation of making an immediate impact at NU.
But he threw lots of strikes. And never quit working.
The Millard South product developed confidence in a cutter, and worked on a curveball to change the hitters’ eye level. Soon he had the NU coaches’ attention, ultimately rewarded Wednesday with his first career start.
One solid outing highlighting Nebraska’s doubleheader sweep against Northern Colorado (3-6) certainly won’t solidify Chesnut’s role, but it does help reinforce the right-hander’s progress.
“It’s just a matter of him repeating his pitches down in the zone,” coach Darin Erstad said. “He had his sinker working well (Wednesday). It was good to see.”
After the first two batters reached against Chesnut in the second game, he retired 12 of the next 13 batters — the only Bear to reach did so when Chesnut fielded a bunt and threw wildly to first base.
He did give up a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly, but he soon established the fastball, then mixed in his off-speed pitches for the next three frames.
Sophomore outfielder Austin Darby’s two-run single with two outs put Nebraska (4-7) up 3-1 in the second. Five NU relievers didn’t allow a hit over the last five innings in a 5-1 Husker win at Haymarket Park.
“We kept the ball low,” Chesnut said. “We just had to trust our stuff.”
The formula was similar during the Huskers’ 10-5 win in the opener.
Left-handers Aaron Bummer and Zach Hirsch, combining to allow two runs over seven innings, kept the Bears’ offense under control while Nebraska’s bats capitalized on scoring chances.
Darby tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, launching his first home run of the year into the right-field bullpen.
Junior Corey Stringer and freshman Wes Edrington had back-to-back RBI hits with two outs in the second before Stringer came up again in the third and bounced a two-run single off shortstop Ryan Yamane’s glove.
Nebraska went up 8-1 when senior Rich Sanguinetti scored on a wild pitch an inning later.
“We took care of business,” Erstad said.
Northern Colorado (3-5) ................. 100 010 003— 5 9 2
Nebraska (3-7) ................. 223 100 20x—10 12 0
W: Bummer, 1-0. L: Loutzenhiser, 0-1. 2B: NU, Stringer (1), Sanguinetti (1). 3B: NU, Christensen (2). HR: NU, Darby (1)
Northern Colorado (3-6) ................. 100 000 000—1 1 1
Nebraska (4-7) ................. 030 020 00x—5 8 1
W: Chesnut, 1-0. L: Tinnon, 0-1.
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