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Huskers win despite chronic walk problem

It seems going into every game Darin Erstad comments on how detrimental giving up walks is to his team, and how they need to limit giving up so many free passes. Although the Huskers won 17-8 over Maryland in the second game of the weekend series, highlighted by 16 unanswered runs, Nebraska’s pitchers struggled to limit walks.

Luis Alvarado (3-5) started on the mound for Nebraska and ran into trouble right away.

In the top of the first inning, the senior gave up a pair of walks before Maryland singled to load the bases. Zach Jancarski followed the single with a grand slam to give the Terrapins an early 4-0 lead.

It was more of the same in the second. After retiring the leadoff batter, Alvarado surrendered three consecutive walks to load the bases for the No. 4 hitter in Maryland’s lineup. The Terps cleanup man delivered a two-RBI single to extend Maryland’s lead. After a flyout to right field, Maryland’s Taylor Wright ripped a two-RBI double to give his side an early 8-1 lead.

Nebraska’s offense was able to battle back towards the end of the game, scoring 16 unanswered and ultimately bailing out the rough pitching performance.

Walks have been a consistent issue for Husker pitchers on the year. In Saturday’s game, Alvarado surrendered only two hits but walked six, en route to giving up seven earned runs in only 1.1 innings pitched. Five of the six walked Terrapins came around to score.

After the early shelling, Erstad turned to the bullpen for the remainder of the game. The three relievers used combined for only one walk as they held Maryland scoreless for the final 7.2 innings.

In Friday’s series-opening loss to Maryland, Nebraska’s pitchers paid the price when they gave the Terrapins free passes.

Matt Waldron, the Huskers Friday night starter, gave up a walk in the second inning, who later came around to score off a double and sacrifice fly from the following Terrapin hitters. In the sixth inning, Waldron surrendered a leadoff walk, who later came around to score off a fielder’s choice.

Byron Hood made an appearance out of Nebraska’s bullpen in the eighth, giving up two walks to the only two hitters he faced. Both came around to score in the inning.

As we saw today, when Nebraska’s pitchers struggle with command, they were forced to work more towards the center of the strike zone to earn strikes. After struggling with command early on, Alvarado was forced to completely give up on his complimentary pitches, only working with his fastball. No matter how powerful a pitcher’s fastball may be, strictly throwing one pitch and working in the center of the zone is not a recipe for success in the Big Ten.

The Huskers were fortunate enough to have an offensive explosion to bail out Alvarado’s walk issues, but if they plan on making the Big Ten tournament, Erstad and co. will have to limit the free passes.

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