SURPRISE, Ariz. — Nebraska fell behind early again, and Oregon State pulled away for an 8-3 win to complete a four-game sweep Sunday afternoon.
A five-run second inning — all coming against freshman Colby Gomes — put the Huskers in a hole the rest of the way. Alex McGarry and Adley Rutschman each logged three-hit days for the defending national champs, with a two-run homer from McCarry icing the game in the sixth.
“I truly believe we have a bunch of fighters on this team,” NU coach Darin Erstad said during his postgame radio interview. “It seems like right now we’re in that mode where when it’s convenient to fight, we’ll fight.
“When you got the big bad wolf you’re facing? I don’t know if we’re ready for that next step yet, but that’s the next step we’re going to have to take.”
The Huskers (3-5) took their first lead of the series in the top of the second when Aaron Palensky led off with a double and Jaxon Hallmark chased him home with a sacrifice fly. But that was short lived as two-run hits from Kyler McMahan and Beau Philip knocked Gomes from the game after 1 1⁄3 frames.
Reece Eddins provided some hope with three scoreless innings of five-strikeout ball before OSU got to Matt Waldron (three runs, two earned in three frames) late.
Seventh-ranked Oregon State (8-0) received 4 1⁄3 innings from junior righty Grant Gambrell — who also allowed a two-run single to Cam Chick in the fourth that made the score 5-3 — before the bullpen provided spotless relief. Brandon Eisert picked up his fourth win of the spring, lasting 3 2⁄3 and striking out three.
Joe Acker led NU with a 3-for-4 day and Palensky added a pair of hits. But the Huskers managed three baserunners in the final five innings. The offense was without a pair of left-handed bats in Alex Henwood (shoulder) and Luke Roskam (jammed finger).
Despite playing competitively in Friday’s doubleheader, the Huskers were outscored 38-9 and committed seven errors (two Sunday) in the series.
“I will say that I think I saw some guys backing down,” Erstad said of the weekend. “I think they’re very talented, but sometimes you’re going to play teams that are better than you. But you just watch (Oregon State) go about their business at the end of the game — diving in the outfield, making plays in the infield and just attacking.
“They took the fight to us and it was a good learning experience. … Whether you’re winning or losing, we have another level that we need to get to quickly.”
Nebraska’s schedule won’t let up next weekend.
It faces No. 3 Texas Tech on Friday, Sam Houston State on Saturday and No. 14 Mississippi State on Sunday at the Frisco Classic in Texas.
Nebraska (3-5)………………010 200 000—3 8 2
Oregon St (8-0)……………..050 002 10X—8 12 0
W: Ben Eisert (4-0). L: Colby Gomes (0-1)