Matt Waldron recovers in Huskers’ comeback victory over Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Matt Waldron recovered from a slow start to log his fifth straight quality outing, and Nebraska rallied with a three-run sixth inning to edge Penn State, 3-2, on Friday afternoon.

In a showdown between the Big Ten’s two leaders in ERA, Penn State stung Waldron for four singles and a pair of runs in the first inning. But NU’s senior right-hander and the bullpen shut out the hosts the rest of the way as the Huskers (18-10, 8-2 B1G) matched their league win total from last year.

PSU ace Dante Biasi flirted with danger in the first five innings, stranding five walks and a single. But Nebraska capitalized on free pass No. 6 to lead off the sixth. Keegan Watson followed the walk with a two-run homer — his third of the spring — on a 3-1 offering. That knocked Biasi from the game at 102 pitches after Husker hitters continued to grind out plate appearances against the lefty.

The uprising resumed with hits by Mojo Hagge and Angelo Altavilla. Then Colby Gomes put a 2-2 pitch in play for the go-ahead RBI groundout.

“Coming on the road, facing a tremendous pitcher, nice job by the boys,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said during his postgame radio interview.

Waldron cruised after the first and twirled seven innings on 98 pitches. He struck out a pair and induced 14 flyouts compared to four on the ground. The Nittany Lions (17-13, 1-8) advanced one man as far as second base after the opening stanza that saw Parker Hendershot and Gavin Homer rap run-scoring singles.

Waldron didn’t appear to have much in that first inning, Erstad said. His velocity was down and pitches were up in the strike zone. But he shook it off to help Nebraska complete the win in 2 hours, 33 minutes.

“Talk about using your experience,” Erstad said. “He just flipped a switch and got back on it. I mean, he walked one guy. Was he as sharp as he’s been before? Maybe not. But that’s going to happen through the course of the year. For him to grind out and get seven there, just fantastic job.”

Robbie Palkert worked a scoreless eighth and Gomes notched his fifth save with a 1-2-3 ninth as NU improved to 18-0 when leading after seven frames.

Nebraska and Penn State conclude their series with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. PSU — already an underdog — also used its top reliever, Mason Mellott, for 51 pitches across four innings of one-run ball.​