Joe's Morning Sports-Friday, June 4, 2021

Devin Booker scored 22 of his 47 points in a phenomenal first quarter, and the Phoenix Suns won their first playoff series since 2010, eliminating the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers with a 113-100 victory in Game Six last night.  Jae Crowder scored 18 points for the second-seeded Suns, who won three consecutive games to send LeBron James to a first-round series loss for the first time in his 18-year NBA career.  James had 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers.  Anthony Davis played only the first part of the first quarter before leaving with his groin injury.

Nikola Jokic had 36 points and the Denver Nuggets eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in six games with a 126-115 victory last night. Michael Porter Jr. added 26 points, including 22 in the opening quarter, for the third-seeded Nuggets. Denver will now take on Phoenix as the Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third straight season.  Damian Lillard finished with 28 points and 13 assists for the sixth-seeded Blazers.  They led by 14 points in the third quarter but couldn’t stave off elimination.

Last night in a game heard on Newstalk WJAG 105.9 FM, Jarrod Dyson scored the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning when centerfielder Gilberto Celestino made a pair of errors on a simple fly ball, helping the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins, 6-5.  Salvador Pérez became only the fourth Kansas City player with consecutive multi-homer games.  The Royals are now 28-26 on the season and five games out of first place in the American League Central Division.

After being named Big Ten Baseball Player of the Year on Sunday, Nebraska’s Spencer Schwellenbach was honored as a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.  Tabbed as the utility player on the second team, he has performed both at the plate and on the mound for Nebraska in 2021.  Schwellenbach enters the postseason hitting .289 with twelve doubles, six home runs and 35 RBIs in 43 games.  On the mound, the Michigan native ended the regular season tied for the conference lead in saves with nine.  Schwellenbach has a 0.71 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 25.1 innings.  Nebraska opens the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7:00 against Northeastern in the Fayetteville Regional.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that former Nebraska volleyball player Nicole Drewnick is transferring to Georgia Tech to continue her college volleyball career.  She opted out of the 2020-21 season while the season went on during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Then, in March, she put her name in the NCAA transfer portal, which allowed her to be recruited by other programs.  Drewnick graduated from high school a year early to be the Huskers’ backup setter in 2019.  She played primarily as a serving substitute that season and finished with two ace serves and ten assists.

The Southeastern Conference and the Big East eliminated their intraconference transfer policies yesterday, allowing athletes to transfer within the leagues without losing a year of eligibility.  The decisions were made in each conference by university presidents and chancellors.  The changes take effect immediately and are in line with the trend throughout college sports to allow more freedom for athletes who switch schools.  Athlete transfers in all Big East-sponsored sports will be governed by NCAA legislation.  The SEC’s change will more closely align the conference with NCAA rules.  A new NCAA policy passed in April allows athletes in all sports to transfer once and be eligible to play immediately.

Beatrice's Kirsten Baete added to her trophy case yesterday, defeating former Husker teammate Haley Thiele of Wahoo, 5 and 3, to claim the 98th Nebraska Women’s Match Play Championship at Awarii Dunes Golf Course in Axtell.  Baete isn’t new to winning championships, but it's been a few years since her last Nebraska Golf Association title.  The University of Nebraska senior won the 2016 Nebraska Girl’s Amateur Championship.

The second seeded 31-12 Nebraska baseball team opens the NCAA Tournament this evening at 7:00 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, against the third seeded 36-10 Northeastern Huskies.  It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.  The Arkansas Razorbacks are the top overall seed in the tournament and will play New Jersey Tech at 2:00.  Nebraska and Northeastern each secured automatic bids to the postseason, with the Big Red taking the Big Ten regular-season title, while the Huskies won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament for the first time in program history.  Nebraska will make its 17th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and the 14th appearance in the last 21 seasons.  The Huskers enter today winners in eleven of their last 13 games and posted an 11-4 record in the month of May.  Elsewhere in baseball, the Omaha Storm Chasers host the Iowa Cubs at 7:05, and the Norfolk Seniors play Omaha Northwest in the first day of the Ralston Tournament at 5:30.  In softball, the Norfolk Rogue 18’s face the host team of the Wayne Dirt Devils Invitational at 7:00.  Also, for the first time in program history, the 12-3-1 Northeast Hawks women’s soccer squad competes in the NJCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament at Evans, Georgia.  They face 9-0 Heartland Community College of Illinois at 6:30 in pool play.

Local Scores:  Omaha Storm Chasers 8 Iowa 5 (Bsbl).

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INTERLEAGUE

Final    Colorado    11    Texas    6    

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AMERICAN LEAGUE

Final    Tampa Bay    9    N.Y. Yankees    2    

Final    Boston    5    Houston    1    

Final    Chicago White Sox    4    Detroit    1    

Final    Kansas City    6    Minnesota    5    

Final    Seattle    6    L.A. Angels    2    

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Final    San Diego    4    N.Y. Mets    3

Final    Atlanta    5    Washington    1    

Final    Pittsburgh    5    Miami    3    

Final    Milwaukee    7    Arizona    4    

Final    Cincinnati    4    St. Louis    2    

Final    San Francisco    7    Chicago Cubs    2    

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS

Final    Denver    126    Portland    115    

Final    Phoenix    113    L.A. Lakers    100    

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Final OT    Boston    2    N-Y Islanders    1    

Final OT    Carolina    3    Tampa Bay    2    

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WOMEN’S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final    Las Vegas    94    New York    82    

Final OT    Phoenix    77    Chicago    74    

Final    Los Angeles    98    Indiana    63   

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Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay yesterday.  Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he wasn’t doing it for the attention but because he felt representation and visibility were important.  He also said in his short video…