PHOENIX — With its regular Friday starting pitcher at home 1,200 miles away, Nebraska had no answers for a veteran Arizona State offense in a 13-5 beatdown that pushed its skid to six games.
Husker pitchers labored Friday in the desert in the absence of senior left-hander Gareth Stroh, who stayed in Lincoln after experiencing elbow discomfort throwing Wednesday. An eight-run fourth inning put the contest out of reach at 11-1 when three NU relievers combined to allow three hits, five walks and three hit batsmen.
“The start of the game wasn’t anywhere close to being good enough,” NU coach Will Bolt said during his postgame radio interview.
No. 12 Arizona State (7-3) and Nebraska (1-6) continue their series Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Huskers’ losing streak is their longest since dropping six straight to end the 2015 season.
Pitching was the lowlight Friday as Sun Devils hitters benefited from 10 walks, five hit batters and four wild pitches while earning an 11-hit evening. Junior Max Schreiber — in line to be a key weekend reliever this spring — made his first career start in his 24th career appearance and lasted three innings and 66 pitches. He walked a pair and struck out four while stranding six.
Closer Shay Schanaman — sporting a 15.43 ERA after two previous appearances — entered in the fourth and continued his rocky start. The sophomore was roughed up for four earned runs via two doubles and two walks while recording just one out. Caleb Feekin (four runs on no outs) fared no better, and freshmen Sayer Diederich and Quinn Mason each were tagged for single runs in their Huskers debuts. Freshman Braxton Bragg added 12⁄3 innings of scoreless ball.
“When you walk guys and hit guys and throw wild pitches right out of the bullpen, it’s not going to get it done,” Bolt said. “You give them that many free bases and you’re going to have lopsided scores.”
ASU won its fifth straight behind a quality start from freshman lefty Cooper Benson (six innings, one run, one walk, six strikeouts). Aaron Palensky swatted a solo home run to left field in the fourth to cut the deficit to 3-1. NU didn’t put more than one man on base until trailing 12-1 the eighth, when Joe Acker (RBI double) and Cam Chick (sacrifice fly) drove in runs. Gunner Hellstrom added a two-run single in the ninth.
Nebraska second baseman Jaxon Hallmark (knee) went 1 for 4 in his return after missing the previous five games.
The message to the team, Bolt said, was to build on what the Huskers did well. That includes good at-bats late and a third straight error-free contest. But the coach added NU has yet to play a complete game.
Nebraska (1-6)......000 100 022— 5 8 0
ASU (7-3)..............030 801 01x—13 11 0
W: Benson, 1-1. L: Schreiber, 0-1. 2B: NU, Acker, Banjoff; ASU, Hauver, Workman 2, Jump. HR: NU, Palensky.
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