Matt Waldron throws another gem to help Huskers defeat Purdue for Darin Erstad’s 250th win

Matt Waldron throws another gem to help Huskers defeat Purdue for Darin Erstad’s 250th win
Nebraska's Jaxon Hallmark bats against Purdue. MADDIE WASHBURN/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Cam Chick thought he got all of the hanging breaking pitch.

Then, for a moment, the Nebraska freshman doubted. Purdue’s right fielder stopped at the wall and appeared ready to catch the ball.

“I was like, ‘Oh, you gotta be kidding me; I hope it’s not the warning track because I’ll get so much crap from the guys,’ ” Chick said. “That’s the only thing I was worried about.”

No need to worry. The ball landed in the bullpen in the fifth inning, the first career home run for the third baseman from Rocheport, Missouri. It also signaled the only real dramatic sequence of the night as the Huskers pounded Purdue 17-0 Friday night for their most lopsided victory of the season.

A series of recent trends continued for both teams. For NU, Matt Waldron extended a season of domination that has only ratcheted up during Big Ten play. Purdue, meanwhile, added to the narrative as one of the nation’s worst offenses by putting a runner on third base just once.

The Huskers (15-9, 5-2 Big Ten) and Boilermakers (10-18, 4-2) continue their weekend matchup Saturday at 2:05 p.m.

A six-run first inning knocked out Boilermakers ace Patrick Smith, and Nebraska continued to rough up the bullpen in front of the biggest crowd (5,038) to watch the Huskers this season on a picturesque evening at Haymarket Park. Joe Acker and Mojo Hagge each finished 3 for 5 — with Hagge driving in a career high-tying four runs — to pace the onslaught.

Waldron needed little of it while firing seven shutout innings on 86 pitches. The only threat came in the third — when two singles and a hit batsman loaded the bases with one out — but the senior right-hander escaped with a strikeout and foul out. He struck out nine and walked none, delivering first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 25 batters he faced.

In 44 innings this year, Waldron has issued three walks to go with 48 strikeouts. He passed Jamie Rodrigue for eighth on the NU career strikeout list with 208.

Confidence? Yeah, the Omaha Westside graduate has plenty of that going. He’s trusting his fastball/change-up sequence more and feeling less nervous than at any other point in his career.

“I didn’t realize how much that can help,” Waldron deadpanned.

Said Chick: “The dude’s sick. He’s good. He’s really good.”

Waldron’s Purdue counterparts were far from up to the challenge. The Huskers scored three runs on wild pitches in the first inning and led 8-0 after two innings. Carter Cross added a two-run single and Hagge and Angelo Altavilla tacked on run-scoring hits in the second.

A seven-run fifth sucked any remaining drama from the series opener. Chick started the uprising with his first career homer to right and sprinted around the bases in roughly 18 seconds — “I’m not a big fan of jogging,” he said. Two-run doubles from Gunner Hellstrom and Hagge preceded scoring hits from Keegan Watson and Altavilla.

Nebraska coach Darin Erstad’s 250th career win had all his favorite numbers attached. No walks allowed, no errors and plenty of tough plate appearances.

“I think our guys like to play baseball,” Erstad said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re up by 10 or down by 10 or it’s tied. You just go play, and I think our guys have that mentality.”

Husker baseball coaching leaders

Coach, years, wins, losses, ties, pct.

John Sanders, 1978-97, 767, 453, 1, .629

Tony Sharpe, 1947-77, 399, 389, 4, .506

Mike Anderson, 2003-11, 337, 196, 2, .632

Darin Erstad, 2012-present, 235, 169, 1, .581

Dave Van Horn, 1998-2002, 214, 92, 0, .699