Wednesday, April 24 – 6:35 p.m.Probable Starters:
RHP Brandon Pierce (1-3) vs. RHP Jake Doller (2-2)TV:
Husker Sports Network
Next for the Huskers
The Nebraska baseball team (19-19, 11-4 Big Ten) takes a break from Big Ten Conference action this week with five non-conference games, including four this weekend at the TD Ameritrade Classic.
The Huskers open play this week on Wednesday night at 6:35 p.m. when the Kansas State Wildcats visit Hawks Field for the final game of a three-game season series between the two teams.
The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday night, but weather pushed it back 24 hours.
After winning the first two games of the season series in Manhattan, the Wildcats will be looking for a season sweep on Wednesday after the Huskers took all three games between the two squads last season.
This weekend, the Huskers will play four games in three days at TD Ameritrade Park, starting with a 6:35 p.m. game on Friday against the Creighton Bluejays.
The Huskers then play their seventh doubleheader of the season on Saturday when they face the No. 24 Oklahoma State Cowboys. Game one is scheduled for 11:05 a.m., with game two set to start approximately 45 minutes after the end of game one.
Nebraska wraps up the weekend on Sunday with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. It will be a Big Ten preview between the two teams, as Rutgers is scheduled to join the Big Ten Conference starting in 2014-15.
On the Radio this Weekend
Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen Greg Sharpe, Lane Grindle and Jeff Culhane call all of the action on the Husker Sports Network - including KLIN 1400 AM and 94.5 FM in Lincoln - and on the Internet at Huskers.com or the Official Husker App. A complete list of HSN affiliates can be found on page 12.
TV Coverage this Week
There will be no TV coverage of any of the five games this week.
Web Streams this Week
Wednesday’s game with Kansas State will be shown live on HuskersNSide (subscription required).
No games this weekend at the TD Ameritrade Classic will be streamed online.
Scouting the Kansas State Wildcats
The Kansas State Wildcats make their lone trip to Hawks Field on Wednesday and will be in search of their third win over the Huskers on the season.
The Wildcats are coming off a 1-2 weekend, where they dropped their first two games at Oklahoma State, before winning on Sunday to avoid a sweep.
The Wildcats are 28-13 overall on the year and have played 25 of their 41 games at home, including 19 straight home games after playing their first six games of the season on the road.
KSU has played just 12 true road games and is two games below .500 with a 5-7 record.
Kansas State is hitting .331 as a team, while holding opposing batters to a .258 average.
Eight Wildcats are hitting .300 or better on the season, including a team-high .364 average from both Ross Kivett and Tanner Witt.
Rivett is one of three players with double-digit doubles on the year, with 11, while Austin Fisher leads the team with 14 two-baggers.
Along with their 76 team doubles, the Wildcats have also slugged 20 triples and 23 home runs, with a team-high seven off the bats of Shane Conlon, as well as six from Jared King.
The Wildcats are not just a power team, as they also put pressure on pitchers and catchers with their running game. KSU has stolen 77 bases on the year in 116 attempts. In two games against the Huskers this year, the Wildcats are 2-for-5 stealing bases off Nebraska catcher Tanner Lubach.
KSU is scheduled to start senior right-handed pitcher Jake Doller on Wednesday night, who started against the Huskers earlier this year in Manhattan on March 26 and didn’t factor into the decision. The Lake Waukomis, Mo., native went 3.2 innings, giving up a pair of runs on three hits and four walks, while striking out four.
On the year, Doller has made 10 appearances, including seven starts. He has thrown 34.2 innings, giving up 13 runs (eight earned) on 22 hits and 20 walks, while striking out 28. Doller has a 2.08 ERA and opposing teams are hitting just .179 off the righty.
In the first two meetings between the two teams this season, eight KSU pitchers combined for the 10-8 win, while in game two, five KSU arms limited the Huskers to one run in a 9-1 Wildcat victory.
Nebraska’s defense has played solid behind its pitching staff this season.
The Husker enter the week with the eight-best team fielding percentage in the country at .980.
Michigan State ranks second in the Big Ten Conference with a .976 fielding percentage, which ranks 30th nationally.
This past weekend in West Lafayette, Ind., the Nebraska baseball team did something it hadn’t done in over five years.
With its three-game sweep of the Purdue Boilermakers, the Huskers earned their first road conference sweep since March 16, 2008, when the Huskers completed a sweep at Kansas State to open Big 12 play.
Keep on Raking
After joining the 200-hit club earlier this year, Chad Christensen is now trying to hit .400 on the season.
He would be just the 12th Husker in school history to achieve the feat.
The senior outfielder from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, enters Wednesday with a .389 average and has been tearing the cover off the ball during Big Ten play with second-best conference batting average,.462.
Christensen leads Nebraska in multi-hit games with 20, including five, three-hit games and one four-hit game, and also leads the Huskers in multi-RBI games with eight.
The 6-3 left fielder is hitting .327 with runners in scoring position and with a runner on third and less than two outs, he had produced an RBI in 15 of his 17 opportunities.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, Christensen was picked by the Miami Marlins in the 35th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but chose to return to Nebraska for his senior season.
Former Major Leaguer Ken Harvey holds the school record with a .478 average in 1999.
The last Husker to hit over .400 a season was John Cole in 2001, when he hit .418.
Returning to Form
Michael Pritchard played in the first two games of the 2013 season, but then missed 10 games with an oblique injury.
A third-team All-American a year ago, Pritchard was just 6-for-28 (.214) in his first seven games back in the Husker lineup.
He has since found his groove and is on an 19-game hitting streak and has produced a pair of hits in nine of his past 10 games.
During the 19-game streak, Pritchard is hitting .402 (33-for-82) with six doubles and has produced 13 of his 14 multi-hit games on the year.
Overall on the year, Pritchard is second on the team with a .342 average and is tied for the team lead with eight doubles.
Prior to the 2013 season, Pritchard was selected as the second-team designated hitter on the 2013 NCBWA Preseason All-America team.
The last Husker to earn All-America accolades in consecutive seasons was Alex Gordon, who was a first-team selection by multiple publications in 2004 and 2005.
We’re Going Streaking
Five Huskers have put together hitting streaks of 11 or more games this year, including Michael Pritchard, who carries an active 19-game streak into Wednesday’s game with Kansas State.
Austin Darby and Chad Christensen have each put together 15-game hitting streaks, while Rich Sanguinetti had a 13-game hitting streak and Kash Kalkowski came up one game shy of tying his career-high with a 11-game hitting streak.
Last season, Pritchard put together one of the top individual performances at the plate, as he rattled off a 25-game hitting streak.
Pritchard tied Derek Dukart for the third-longest hitting streak in NU history at 25 games.
With a hit on Wednesday against Kansas State, Pritchard would become the first player in school history with a pair of 20-game hitting streaks while at Nebraska.
2012 teammate Richard Stock also put together quite a streak of his own at 21 games, marking the first time in school history that a pair of Huskers produced hit streaks of 20 or more games in the same season.
Francis Collins holds the NU school record with a 38-game hitting streak in 1996, while Ken Ramos is second with a 28-game streak in 1987.
Since taking over as Nebraska’s leadoff hitter at Cal State Fullerton on March 19, Rich Sanguinetti has turned around his season senior season.
Over the past 21 games, Sanguinetti is third on the team with a .365 batting average, while producing five doubles and eight RBIs. He has posted a .445 on-base percentage and is slugging .448.
A first-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago, Sanguinetti has 11 multi-hit games in the 21-game stretch, including a four-hit game and four, three-hit games.
Since switching to the leadoff spot, Sanguinetti has seen his overall season average rise over .100 points from .175 to .294.
Over Nebraska’s first 17 games of the season, Sanguinetti hit .175 with just two multi-hit games.
First Time in 20 Years
On their way to sweeping a doubleheader with the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks on Tuesday, April 16, the Huskers posted their eighth no hitter in school history.
A trio of Huskers combined for the eighth no-hitter in school history, as Kyle Kubat, Tyler Niederklein and Dylan Vogt held the Razorbacks hitless in a 3-0 Nebraska win.
It was the fourth combined no-hitter in school history and the first no-hitter since four Huskers no-hit Peru State on March 6, 1993. It was the first no hitter against a Division I program since April 5, 1981, when Anthony Kelley no-hit the Oklahoma Sooners in seven innings. The last nine-inning no hitter against a Division I team was on April 20, 1954, when Richard Geier threw a perfect game against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Pritchard Named B1G Player of the Week
Nebraska baseball picked up its first conference honor of the week on Monday, April 22, when Michael Pritchard was named Big Ten Player of the Week after helping lead the Huskers to a 5-0 record on the field last week.
A 6-0 lefty from Omaha, Pritchard hit .500 (10-for-20) on the week, as the Huskers swept a doubleheader from No. 10 Arkansas on Tuesday, April 16, at Hawks Field and then took three from the Purdue Boilermakers on their home field over the weekend. The sweep of the Boilermakers was the first conference road sweep for the Husker baseball team since 2008.
A preseason second-team All-American by the NCBWA, Pritchard had a pair of hits in four of Nebraska’s five games last week, including a 3-for-4 performance in the second game of a doubleheader sweep at Purdue on Saturday. The Creighton Prep product had a pair of doubles at Purdue and scored four runs during the weekend sweep.
Overall on the week, Pritchard struck out just once in 20 at bats and extended his season-long hitting streak to 19 games. He slugged .600 on the week and had an on-base percentage of .545.
Monday’s award was the first for the Husker baseball team since Josh Scheffert was named Big Ten Player of the Week last season on April 16.
Back in the Mix
After being sidelined with shoulder soreness for the first 33 games of the year, sophomore Kyle Kubat made his season debut on Tuesday, April 16 against the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks in the first game of a doubleheader.
A freshman All-American last year and third-team All-Big Ten pick, Kubat dealt 5.0 innings of no hit ball. Kubat retired the first six Arkansas batters he faced, before issuing a leadoff walk in the third. He then sat down seven straight, before hitting Isaac Hellbusch with two out in the fifth.
Tyler Niederklein and Dylan Vogt combined to through 4.0 innings of no-hit ball down the stretch to finish off NU’s first no hitter in over 20 years.
Kubat picked up his second win of the week on Sunday, April 21, with 5.0 innings of work against Purdue. The win secured Nebraska’s first road sweep in conference play since 2008.
Last season during conference play, Kubat was 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in six appearances, including three starts.
We’ll Take that Start
Rich Sanguinetti has started four Big Ten Conference games with a double in Nebraska’s first at-bat of the game and has scored each time.
Nebraska also won each game that Sanguinetti has started with a double.
B1G Series Openers
Last season the Huskers were 4-4 in Big Ten series openers, but only got back to .500 by winning their last three series openers.
This season, Nebraska has started its first five series on the right foot, going 5-0 in Big Ten series openers.
Nebraska started the Big Ten play with a 9-5 win on Friday, March 22 at Illinois. The teams then split a doubleheader on Saturday, earning the Huskers a series win, 2-1.
The Huskers improved to 2-0 in series openers with a 9-8 16-inning win over Northwestern on Friday, March 29 at Hawks Field. Nebraska went on to sweep the three-game series to improve to 5-1 on the year in Big Ten play.
Nebraska took its third series opener of the year with a 12-5 win at Iowa on Friday, April 5. Nebraska won the series, 2-1, to win its fifth straight conference series dating back to last season.
Nebraska picked up its fourth-straight series opening win with a 11-2 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes on April 12 behind an 8.0-inning performance from Christian DeLeon. The Buckeyes came back to win the final two games of the series to send Nebraska its first conference series loss of the season.
Win No. 5 came at Purdue on Saturday, April 20. The Huskers were set to open the series on Friday, but cold temperatures and rain pushed the series opener to a doubleheader on Saturday. Nebraska swept the double dip, starting with a 10-2 win on the arm of Christian DeLeon.
Nebraska lost on Friday night in four of its first five Big Ten series openers last season, including a loss to Illinois to open Big Ten play in Lincoln.
At home last season, Nebraska was 1-3 in Big Ten series openers, with the first win coming in its finale against Minnesota, as the Huskers swept the Gophers.
On the road last year, NU was 3-1 in conference series openers, with the only loss coming at Ohio State. Nebraska went on to win the series with the Buckeyes.
The last time Nebraska won five straight conference series openers in a row was during the 2001 season.
In 2001, Nebraska was 9-0 in series openers with wins at Texas Tech (3-2), Missouri (14-4), at Oklahoma (7-1), Texas (10-8), Baylor (6-2), at Kansas (9-0), at Texas A&M (6-4), Oklahoma State (9-7) and at Iowa State (16-8).
More notes in attached PDF