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The explosion of noise, the loudest Dave Van Horn has ever heard in his home stadium, told the truth.

So, too, did the nervous silence in Baum-Walker Stadium for seven innings.

And the tears in the Nebraska dugout and in the seats above the dugout belonging to Husker fans.

The line on dominant Arkansas closer Kevin Kopps — seven innings, 90 pitches — said everything that needed to be said. The nation's top closer was needed like never before in the SEC season.

Meanwhile, the truth was stamped all over Nebraska coach Will Bolt’s proud face.

And that is, the scoreboard on Monday night lied.

Arkansas 6, Nebraska 2. To be sure, a final result that sends the Hogs forward and the Huskers packing for the summer.

But man, Nebraska baseball won on Monday.

The team won. The program won. A starving fan base won.

Husker baseball was back on the national stage, pushing the No. 1 team in the country against the ropes on their own field and in front of their own crazy Hog hats.

Husker fans were back, packing in watch parties and cheering and screaming every pitch and feeling the tension of a game that meant everything.

It hasn’t felt that way in a long, long time, since 2005 for baseball and so much longer in other men’s sports we know too well.

Then Luke Roskam swung and admired the view and the sound of a stunned stadium. But you could hear the sounds of happy, of belief, of buy-in all around a state that’s been too dry for too long.

Suddenly, Nebraska baseball was inching closer to playing for a chance to come to Omaha. It was 2-0 early, and Cade Povich was rolling, and my goodness, this wasn’t a teaser. This was a free pass to dare to dream.

Then came the eighth. And 11 straight balls. A wild pitch. A three-run bomb. Game over.

And maybe you yelled at somebody and headed out the door to walk around the block to replay it and cool off. And therein lies the truth.

That’s a win, Nebraska.

You can tell me all about no room for moral victories, and that’s not how they roll anymore. Next time, Nebraska will expect to win, should expect to win.

And I’ll say, congrats. On the win.


The sport of college baseball was forced to take notice of Nebraska again as the Huskers morphed from underdog to spoiler to legit team to it wouldn’t be an upset if they made it to Omaha. All in four days.

What a whirlwind. What a ride.

They grew up. They arrived, in many ways, and almost by kicking the door down.

The tour through the Big Ten hadn’t told us that. No non-conference games, then league games played in front of a few hundred fans in ballparks not big enough to be called stadiums.

Arkansas was different. This was the big leagues of college baseball. A giant stadium and overflow crowd, trying to rattle Nebraska’s Mojo.

It didn’t happen, not until that eighth inning, when they couldn’t throw a strike, couldn’t get one called, and finally just watched their chance unravel.

That’s when another truth showed itself: Arkansas has the deepest and most talented team in the country, and it has done this before.

The Huskers, meanwhile, hadn’t been to a regional final since 2007. In four NCAA regional appearances, Darin Erstad’s teams won two total games.

You got the distinct feeling that has changed. The future looks bright with regionals at Haymarket Park and super regional berths, and for the first time in forever, the CWS doesn’t look out of reach.

That sort of belief returns when, as NU coach Will Bolt said, you “go toe to toe with the best.”


Bolt said his team had nothing to hang their heads about. They did everything their coaches said and wound up one inning from an epic night.

“That’s a good start,” Bolt said of the regional experience. “We’ve got to build on it.”

To that end, the Huskers had the near-perfect result. A team of brawlers were sent away with a gut punch that Cade Povich said “won’t be forgotten.”

Sorry, did I say ending?

This was a beginning.