Nebraska (6-13, 0-0 Big Ten) at Illinois (13-4, 0-0 Big Ten)
Friday, March 22 – 4:05 p.m. (CT)
RHP Christian DeLeon (1-2) vs. RHP Kevin Johnson (3-1)
Saturday, March 23 – 3:05 p.m. (CT)
RHP Ryan Hander (0-2) vs. RHP John Kravetz (2-0)
Sunday, March 24 – 12:05 p.m. (CT)
RHP Brandon Pierce (1-3) vs. TBA
Up Next for the Huskers
Following a five-game trip to the state of California, where the Nebraska baseball team went a combined 1-4 against UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton, the Huskers open Big Ten play on Friday with the Illinois Fighting Illini in Champaign, Ill.
The Huskers and Illini meet at 4:05 p.m. on Friday, March 22 at Illinois Field, continue the series on Saturday, March 23 at 3:05 p.m. and conclude the weekend on Sunday, March 24 with a 12:05 p.m. showdown.
After returning to Lincoln from Illinois, Nebraska plays its 12th-straight game away from Hawks Field with a trip to Manhattan, Kan., on Tuesday, March 26 for one game with the Kansas State Wildcats.
On the Radio this Weekend
Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle 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 13.
TV Coverage this Weekend
There is no television coverage of any game this weekend.
Tuesday’s game at Kansas State will be shown live on Fox College Sports.
Web Streams this Weekend
None of the games at Illinois will be streamed. Tuesday’s game at Kansas State will be shown on K-StateHD.TV (subscription required).
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois enters the weekend with a 13-4 record and is yet to play a game at home this season.
The Illini have won 12 of their last 13, after dropping three or their first four games on the year, including a series loss to Tennessee Tech.
Illinois is coming off two straight sweeps, as it swept Baylor in Waco, Texas, two weeks ago and recently took three from Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill.
The Illini will put pressure on the defense on the basepaths, as they have stolen 37 bases in 43 attempts this year, including a team-high seven steals from both Jordan Parr and Justin Parr. The Parr brothers are both 7-for-8 on the season and are tied for the team lead in RBI with 18 each.
Justin Parr leads the offense with a .411 batting average (30-for-73), while he also has seven extra-base hits (five doubles and two triples).
Jordan Parr leads the squad with three home runs, while Thomas Lindauer has two and Michael Hurwitz has one.
Friday night starter Kevin Johnson is 3-1 on the year with a 2.48 ERA. Over 32.2 innings of work he has given up 11 runs (9 earned) on 35 hits and nine walks, while striking out 26. He has given up just five extra-base hits all season, including one home run.
John Kravetz will bring his 3.28 ERA and a 2-0 record into Saturday’s game. The righty is holding opposing hitters to a .216 average, as he has given up nine runs on 19 hits and eight walks over 24.2 innings of work. He has 13 strikeouts on the season and has given up just one extra-base hit, a double.
Illinois has yet to announce its starter for Sunday’s game.
Illinois has committed 24 errors on the season, an average of 1.4 per game.
The Huskers are 6-13 on the season, but seven of their 13 losses have come by two runs or less, including five losses by one run.
Three of the losses have been walk-off loses, including games at USC and Texas where Nebraska had the lead entering the bottom of the ninth.
Big Ten 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.
Nebraska lost on Friday night in four of it’s first five Big Ten series openers last season, including a loss to Illinois to open Big Ten plays last season in Lincoln.
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.
Junior Christian DeLeon has been a welcome addition to the Husker pitching staff in 2013.
Projected to be a long-relief arm and a spot starter, DeLeon was throw into the weekend rotation to start the season and has been arguably the Huskers’ top starter.
The 6-3 righty has thrown 8.0 innings twice this season and leads the team with 33.0 innings pitched.
DeLeon holds a 1.91 ERA on the year and ranks second on the team with 16 strikeouts, while issuing five walks.
Keep Your Bags Packed
The Huskers are currently playing 12 straight games away from Hawks Field, with each game a true road game.
It’s the longest stretch for the Huskers since the 2007 season, when Nebraska played 13 straight games away from home to start the year, but only six of the games were true road games. The Huskers were scheduled to play their first 10 games away from home and then play Nebraska-Kearney on Tuesday, March 6 at Hawks Field, but the game was cancelled due to weather.
The last time Nebraska played more than 12-straight true road games was during the 1985 season, when the Huskers played 15-straight games on an opponent’s home field. The schedule included New Mexico (1), Arizona State (3), San Diego State (5), UNLV (3), Southern Utah (1) and Kansas State (2).
Sophomore Josh Roeder has been tough on opposing hitters this season with a 1.12 ERA. Over 8.0 innings of work, the transfer from Louisberg College his given up just two hits, while striking out eight.
Roeder recently earned his first career save at Nebraska when he entered the game at No. 25 UC Irvine on March 16 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with no outs.
Roeder got pinch-hitter Jonathan Munoz to pop out for the first out of the inning and with the top of the Irvine order up, Roeder blew away Dominique Taylor with a fastball and closed out the win when he got pinch-hitter Ryan Cooper to fly out to center field for the game’s final out.
Going for 2,000
The Nebraska baseball team is four wins away from notching the 2,000th win in program history.
Dating back to the team’s first season in 1889 when the team went 1-2, the Huskers entered the season ranked 45th all-time in the NCAA record books in wins.
Entering 2013, only 44 programs in NCAA history had won more than 2,000 games, while only two programs had posted 3,000 or more wins. Fordham entered the season ranked first all-time with 4,320 wins and Texas was second with 3,276 wins.
Take it for the Team
Senior infielder Bryan Peters entered the 2013 season ranked fourth on Nebraska’s career list 43 HBP and still sits fourth with 45 HBP, but is just one short of tying Kale Kiser (46) for third place.
Peters should easily move to the No. 3 spot in 2013, and possibly have a chance at moving to the No. 2 spot on the all-time list.
Kash Kalkowski recently moved to a tied for eighth on the all-time list with 34 career HBP, as he has been hit a team-high eight times this season. Peters is the only other Husker to be hit more than once, with two HBP this season.
DJ Belfonte (2007-10) sits second on the career list with 59 HBP and Daniel Bruce (2002-05) holds the NU career record with 67 HBP.
Nebraska has played three doubleheaders this season and is 3-3 in the six games.
NU was swept at then No. 22 Cal State Fullerton during the season’s opening weekend, but swept Northern Colorado at Hawks Field.
The latest doubleheader came at Louisiana Tech, where the two teams split the day, with the Bulldogs winning game one, 2-1, and the Huskers winning game two, 3-2.
Nebraska played three doubleheaders a year ago, going 3-3. The Huskers swept at Ohio State, were swept at Indiana and split a doubleheader at home with CSU Bakersfield.
Options at Short
Nebraska has played three players at shortstop this season, including senior Bryan Peters as well as freshmen Jake Placzek and Wes Edrington.
Edrington made his season debut on Wednesday, March 6 at Northern Colorado and has started five games, while Peters has started 11 games and Placzek four games.
Something about the 6th
On the season, Nebraska has scored more runs in the sixth inning than any other innings with 18 runs.
The Huskers hold an 18-14 advantage in the sixth inning and the only other inning they have outscored the opposition is the second, where they hold an 11-7 advantage.
Hits in Bunches
Senior Chad Christensen has been tough on opposing pitchers this season, as the NU left fielder leads the team with seven multi-hit games.
Christensen has produced three hits three times this season.
Pat Kelly, Kash Kalkowski and Austin Darby each have five multi-hit games.
Huskers Picked Second by League Coaches
The Big Ten coaches have picked Nebraska to finish second out of the league’s 11 teams in 2013. One senior and a pair of Husker juniors were also named to the ‘Players to Watch List’, including senior right-handled pitcher Dylan Vogt, as well as junior outfielder Michael Pritchard and junior right-handed pitcher Brandon Pierce.
Indiana was picked as the league favorite by the coaches. The Hoosiers finished second in both the regular-season standings and at the conference tournament to the Purdue Boilermakers.
In 58 games last season, only twice did a Husker starter strikeout seven batters in a game.
Kyle Kubat did it first at Indiana and May 5 and Ryan Hander also did so against Penn State at the Big Ten Tournament on May 24.
Through 19 games in 2013, the Huskers have already matched the feat twice, as Christian DeLeon and Hander each struck out seven Longhorns in Austin.
Last season, the Husker pitching staff produced double-digit strikeouts in a game four times, including a season-high 11 against New Mexico State during the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome on March 3.
This season, NU’s pitching staff has already topped the feat with 12 strikeouts in a 10-5 win over Northern Colorado on Wednesday, March 6.