Baseball: Returning with Big Red
MINNEAPOLIS – Walking off the Siebert Field turf on Sunday after helping Nebraska to a Big Ten Conference sweep against Minnesota, Red Wing native and Cornhuskers second baseman Pat Kelly knows the team has something special going right now.
“We got it rolling right now. We got a conference sweep last weekend, then did it again this weekend,” Kelly said after Sunday’s 3-2 10-inning victory. “We pitched and played defense all weekend and it got us three wins.”
And in the Nebraska dugout during the three-game series, it remains special for Kelly and his first cousin, Ryan Boldt, who were greeted with cheers from family and friends from Red Wing through the entirety of the Huskers’ road trip.
“It’s awesome with the support we have from the people in Red Wing and from the family,” said Boldt, a freshman center fielder. “It’s awesome to play in front of them and get wins like we did this weekend and to have that support.”
Support is what the Red Wing cousins were able to provide Nebraska throughout the series, and especially in Sunday’s series finale. After starting the series on an 0-9 slump at the plate, Boldt went 2-for-5 and scored a run on a sacrifice fly from Kelly in the first inning.
“The first two games I was battling pretty hard and luckily (on Sunday), I got a few pitches I could handle and put good swings on ‘em,” said Boldt, the second-ranked freshman in the country according to Baseball America. “Luckily, it worked out for me.”
For Kelly, he went 0-for-3 at the plate, but came up with the biggest defensive play of the game.
In the bottom of the ninth inning and with the game-winning run on second base, the Gophers’ Connor Schaefbauer hit a sharp grounder to the right side of the infield. Kelly, Nebraska’s junior second baseman, made a diving grab and got the force out at first to send the game into extra innings.
“A runner on second base with two outs, you have to be diving for anything to save the run,” Kelly said. “I knew I had to get there and just make a play on it.”
Helping the Huskers to a 23-14 record, Kelly has become one of the toughest outs in the Big Ten. A first team All-Big Ten selection last year, Kelly ranks in the conference’s top 10 in hits (44, t-7th) and RBI (27, 5th) while hitting for a .303 batting average with 20 runs scored.
Starting in 35 of his first 36 games in college, Boldt is batting .305 with 11 extra-base hits, 23 runs and a team-high five stolen bases.
As Boldt has learned the college game, he has leaned on his more experienced cousin, and is relishing the time playing together.
“I really only played with him one year in high school, and to be able to play with him again is awesome,” Boldt said. “Pat was there in the beginning if I had any questions, just guiding me along. I found out what I’m doing now that the season’s rolling.”
Kelly added, “(Ryan’s) on top of his stuff. He knows how to go about his business and does it the right way. I don’t have to watch over him too much.”
While the two cousins are making noise on the field, the Kelly and Boldt families are making noise in the stands whether it’s in Minneapolis or in Lincoln, Neb.
“Shoot, next weekend for Easter, we’ll probably have 50, 60 Kellys down there,” Pat said. “They like to come and support the boys.”