Huskers Host Big Ten-Leading Boilermakers
7-5 Big Ten) vs. No.
16 Purdue (29-5,
10-2 Big Ten)
Fri., April 20 - 6:35 p.m.: Jon Keller, So., RHP (4-0) vs. Joe Hasse, Sr., RHP (6-0)
Sat., April 21 - 2:05 p.m.: Brandon Pierce, So., RHP (4-1) vs. Lance Breedlove, Sr., RHP (6-2)
Sun., April 22 - 12:05 p.m.: Zach Hirsch, So., LHP (4-2) vs. Connor Podkul, Fr., RHP (1-0)
This Week: The Nebraska baseball team (25-13, 7-5 Big Ten) welcomes the No. 16 Purdue Boilermakers (29-5, 10-2 Big Ten) to Hawks Field this weekend for a three-game series. The Boilermakers enter the weekend on a nine-game winning streak and sit atop the conference standing after sweeping its last two weekend series.
After not starting the past two weekends, sophomore righty Jon Keller returns to the mound on Friday night when the two teams meet in front of a national-TV audience on the Big Ten Network at 6:35 p.m. Purdue will counter with one of the top pitchers in the league in senior righty Joe Hasse, who is a 6-0 on the year.
Brandon Pierce is scheduled to take the mound for the third straight Saturday for game two at 2:05 p.m. The Boilermakers will throw a senior for the second straight day in righty Lance Breedlove, who is 6-2 on the season.
The finale on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. will feature sophomore lefty Zach Hirsch for the Huskers and freshman righty Connor Podkul for the Boilermakers. Hirsch is 4-2 on the season and has been the Huskers' Sunday starter for every weekend series during Big Ten play, while Podkul is starting his fifth career game and is 1-0.
Tickets: Season and single-game tickets can be purchased at Huskers.com, by calling 1-800-8BIGRED or by visiting the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office across the street from Memorial Stadium. The Huskers are also offering a nine-game ticket deal this season. Named the "Diamond-Deal" fans can pick any nine of the Huskers' 31 home games and have the same seat for all nine games.
Television: Friday's game will be shown across the country on the Big Ten Network and will be streamed live on BTN2Go.com. Saturday and Sunday's games will be shown live on HuskersNSide (subscription needed).
On the Radio: 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 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 9.
The No. 16 Purdue Boilermakers visit Lincoln this weekend for one of the biggest conference series in over three years at Hawks Field.
Under the direction of Head Coach Doug Schreiber, who is in his 14th season at Purdue, the Boilermakers lead the Big Ten with a 29-5 overall record and a 10-2 conference record.
A veteran group, Purdue has 14 seniors on its roster and 12 juniors, while having just two sophomores and seven freshman.
The Boilermakers have been the most consistent team in the conference, as they have lost consecutive games just once this season. After taking the first two games of a four-game series at Wichita State, the Boilermakers dropped a double-header to the Shockers to close the series.
Purdue started Big Ten play with a pair of 2-1 series wins over Ohio State and Penn State, with both loss coming in the final game of each series. Since the loss to Penn State on April 1, the Boilermakers have won nine straight games, including series sweeps of Northwestern and Illinois.
At the plate, the Boilermakers lead the conference in batting average (.326), doubles (74) and fewest strikeouts (159).
Purdue also performs well on the mound with the fewest hits allowed (274), fewest runs allowed (127), fewest walks allowed (79) and the fewest doubles allowed (38).
Eight Boilermakers are hitting .300 or better on the year, including a team-high .392 average from Eric Charles, which ranks second in the conference.
Purdue doesn't rely on the long ball with only 15 home runs, but their pitching staff also holds opponent in check with just 16 home runs given up on the season. Cameron Perkins leads the team with four home runs, while Kevin Plawecki is the only other Boilermaker with more than two home runs.
Five Boilermakers have at least 20 RBI's on the year, including 38 from Perkins, who is the only Boilermaker with more than 30 RBI's on the season.
Purdue puts the ball in play a lot of makes the defense make plays. The Boilermakers have the fewest strikeouts in the league with 159, which is 37 fewer then Nebraska's 195, which is the second-fewest in the conference. They also don't walk much with 107 free passes, which is the second-fewest in the conference.
The Huskers will see a trio of right handers this weekend, including a senior on both Friday and Saturday, before facing a freshman on Sunday.
The Huskers will try to hand Joe Haase his first loss of the season on Friday, as the senior enters the game with a 6-0 record and a 3.09 ERA. In 55.1 inning of work over nine starts, Haase has one complete game shutout on the season and has struck out 33, while only walking 13.
Lance Breedlove will take his 6-2 record and 2.23 ERA to the mound on Saturday. The workhorse of the staff, Breedlove has two complete games on the year and leads the Boilermakers in innings pitched (60.2) and strikeouts (53). The senior has great control on the mound with just eight walks on the year.
Freshman Connor Podkul is scheduled to start the series finale on Sunday and will be making his fifth career start. Podkul is 1-0 on the season in seven appearances and carries a 2.30 ERA over 27.1 innings of work. He has given up eight runs (seven earned) on 15 hits, while walking four and striking out 19.
National Team Notes
The Huskers entered the week ranked in the top-25 nationally in 10 categories, including top-five ranking in hits and runs scored.
Through April 15, the Huskers rank second in the country in hits (423) and are third in runs (293).
NU sits seventh nationally with 7.7 runs per game and is 10th in batting average with a team average of .317.
The Huskers are also ranked in the top-25 in slugging (14th - .458), home runs (15th - 33), home runs per game (22nd - 0.87) and on-base percentage (22nd - .396).
Defensively, the Huskers are 22nd nationally with a .976 fielding percentage and are 25th in double plays with 35 twin killings.
National Individual Notes
Five Huskers hold a top-50 ranking through April 15.
Rich Sanguinetti holds the highest ranking, as the junior is 14th in the country in sacrifice bunts with 11.
Following a monster weekend at Ohio State, Josh Scheffert ranks 23rd in the country with a .670 slugging percentage. During Big Ten play, Scheffert leads the conference with a .818 slugging percentage.
Chad Christensen holds a pair of top-50 rankings in RBI's and runs. The junior shortstop sits 32nd in runs scored with 38 and is 38th in RBI's with 38.
After being HBP in each game of the Ohio State series last weekend, senior Kale Kiser is 30th in the country with 13 HBP's. Kiser is also just outside of the top 50 in walks with his 26 walks ranking 51st nationally.
Michael Pritchard rounds of the group with a top-50 batting average. The Huskers' leadoff hitter is hitting .391 on the season, which is third best in the Big Ten.
Scheffert Dialed In
After struggling through a sophomore season that saw him hit .220 with four doubles, two home runs and 18 RBI's in 43 games, Josh Scheffert went back to the drawing board this summer and worked on his swing.
The Lincoln native's hard work has paid off so far in 2012, as he has been named Big Ten Player of the Week twice.
The junior is second on the team with a .379 average (39-for-103), while also producing a team-high seven home runs, as well as nine doubles and 31 RBI's. Last weekend against Ohio State, Scheffert hit three bombs and drove in 10 runs, including a career-high seven RBI's in the series finale on Sunday.
Scheffert has also been solid in the field at both corners of the diamond. He has just three errors on the season in 167 chances.
Honoring Real Heroes
The Huskers will wear special camo jerseys and hats this weekend to honor all military personnel.
All active and veteran military personnel will receive free general admission when they present their government-issued military ID, VFW/Legion card, or DD214F form at the gates of Haymarket Park this weekend.
Hard to Hit
Junior closer Travis Huber has been tough on opposing hitters during Big Ten play with a 0.00 ERA in 4.2 innings of work over four appearances.
Huber has given up just four hits and one walk, while striking out six and holding opposing batters to a .211 average.
The Bolt Effect
The Husker offense has seen major improvement under the direction of Associate Head Coach Will Bolt.
Looking at NU's numbers through 38 games in 2011 and 2012, the Huskers have struck out 75 fewer times, walked eight more times, produced 58 more hits, scored 59 more runs and are hitting 34 points higher as a team at .317.Kiser Rising
Over the past four games senior Kale Kiser has raised his batting average 39 points to .237 for the season. It all started against Iowa on April 8, when Kiser drove in the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off single to complete a four-run ninth for the Huskers.
Kiser continued to hit the ball well at Ohio State, as he hit a home run in the second game of the series and produced a three-hit game in the series finale.
The senior outfielder leads the team and is tied for third in the Big Ten with 26 walks, while also ranking second on the team with a .452 on-base percentage.
Setting the Pace
Sophomore Michael Pritchard has been one of the Huskers' most lethal weapons this season with a team high .391 batting average, which ranks third in the Big Ten Conference.
Pritchard also leads the Huskers with a .456 on-base percentage, four points higher than Kale Kiser's .452 on-base percentage.
With Pritchard in the leadoff spot, the Huskers are 19-7 on the season.
10 times this season Pritchard has either gotten a hit or walked in the Huskers' first at bat of the game and has come around to score six times.
Get on Top
Scoring the game's first runs has been important for the Huskers during Big Ten play.
In the first 12 games of the Big Ten schedule, the Huskers are 5-1 when taking the first lead of a game. When the opposition scores first, the Huskers are 2-4.
The only time during conference play that the Huskers have scored first and lost was in the series opener against Iowa on April 6. NU took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning and lost the game, 4-3.
Home Sweet Hawks
The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 11th year at Hawks Field in 2012. The Huskers are 244-84-1 (.743) since opening the park on March 5, 2002 with a 23-1 win over Nebraska-Kearney.
Nebraska plays a total of 31 games at Hawks Field in 2012, and is 15-6 at Hawks Field after beating Creighton on April 10 by a score of 5-3.
Transfer Richard Stock has been a welcome addition to the Husker offense in 2012. The junior from Westlake Village, Calif., is hitting .357 on the year and leads the team in doubles (11) and ranks fourth in RBI's (28).
Stock has been even better during conference play with a team-high average of .408 (20-for-49) to rank third in the league.
Stock has produced three hits in a game six times this year, including a career-high four against Ohio State on April 15. The junior also has seven multi-RBI games on the season
A 45th-round pick out of high school by the Brewers, Stock has found new life at Nebraska after playing his freshman season at USC and last season at Pierce College in Los Angeles.
Tough With Two
The Huskers have come up with clutch hits all season with two outs, as 96 of the team's 264 RBI's have come with two outs. Leading the way is Chad Christensen, who has driven in 19 of his team-leading 38 RBI's with two outs. Last season Christensen played in all 55 games and totaled just four two-out RBI's.
Juniors Richard Stock, Josh Scheffert and Kash Kalkowski also each have double-digit two-out RBI's. Stock and Scheffert each have 14, while Kalkowski has 12.
In 55 games a year ago the Huskers' totalled 91 two-out RBI's. All-American Cody Asche led the team with 16 two-out RBI's, while only three players had 10 or more on the year, including Asche, Kalkowski (14) and Bryan Peters (12).
Packing the Park
Through April 15 the Huskers rank 15th in the country in average home attendance with 3,240 fans per game and 16th in overall attendance with 68,054 fans through the gates at Hawks Field.
No other Big Ten team ranks in the top 45 of either category.
LSU leads both rankings with an overall number of 295,170 fans through 28 games for an average of 10,541 per game.
Over the Hump
Nebraska's 2-1 series win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus last week was a first for every player on the Husker roster.
With the Huskers' last conference road series win coming at Baylor during the 2008 season, no player on the 2012 roster had won a conference road series prior to last weekend's win at Ohio State.
Cory Cuts Them Down
Catcher Cory Burleson has been one of the most important cogs of the Husker defense this season with 16 runners caught stealing, which tops his season total of 14 from 2011.
The senior backstop has slowed down the opposition's running game, as team's have stolen just 11 bases in 27 attempts (.407) this season, with two of the eight steals coming from Illinois on a double steal.
During Big Ten play, Burleson has thrown out six runners in 11 attempts.
Through April 18, Indiana's Kyle Schwarber is the only catcher in the Big Ten with more runners thrown out than Burleson with 20, but Schwarber has the second most steals allowed in the league with 33. 10 catchers in the Big Ten have allowed 15 or more steals on the year, including six who have allowed 20 or more and two with 30 or more.
Burleson has worked hard in the offseason to improve his game after allowing 26 steals in 40 attempts a year ago.
Under the direction of Head Coach Darin Erstad and Associate Head Coach Will Bolt, the Nebraska offense has seen great improvement across the board from a year ago.
During conference play the Huskers are hitting .304 as a team, with seven players hitting .300 or better, including a team-leading .408 average from Richard Stock.
In 2011, the Huskers hit .236 during conference play and just two players hit over .300, including Cody Asche (.351) and Michael Pritchard (.340).
Pitcher's Best Friend
Through 38 games the Huskers have turned 35 double plays. NU is on pace to turn just over 51 double plays this season after only converting 35 a year ago.
Even though the Huskers lead the Big Ten Conference with 33 home runs through April 18, Nebraska has also put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with their bunting.
On the year, the Huskers have 26 bunt singles through 38 games. In 55 games a year ago, the Huskers had just 16 bunt singles all season.
Chad Christensen, who is second on the team in home runs (6) and leads the team in RBI's (38), also leads the team with seven bunt singles in eight attempts.
Michael Pritchard is next with five bunts singles, while Bryan Peters has four and Cory Burleson has three. Kurt Farmer and Rich Sanguinetti each have two.
Overall, the Huskers are 26-for-33 (.788) when bunting for a base hit and also have 32 sacrifice bunts on the year, including a Big Ten-high 11 from Sanguinetti.
After starting three games at the beginning of the season, freshman Kyle Kubat has been a tough arm out of the bullpen for the Huskers during conference play.
In two appearances Kubat has a 0.00 ERA over 6.0 innings of work and is holing opposing batters to a .190 batting average. The 6-1 lefty has allowed just four hits and has given up three walks, while striking out six.
Chad Christensen has turned into a run producer this season with a team-high 38 RBI's in 38 games. Over his first two seasons at NU, Christensen had just 31 RBI's in 86 games.
Rich Sanguinetti isn't far behind Christensen with 33 RBI's, while Josh Scheffert is also over the 30-RBI mark with a career-high 31 this season.
Three other Huskers have at least 20 RBI's on the year to give NU six players with 20+ RBI's on the season.
At the end of the 2011 season, only five Huskers had 20+ RBI's on the season, including a team-high 56 from Cody Asche. Others included Kash Kalkowski (42), Kurt Farmer (32), Bryan Peters (30) and Cory Burleson (21).
Freshman Pat Kelly has made a quick transition to college pitching, as the Red Wing, Minn., is third on the team with a .358 batting average and a slugging percentage of .605.
Kelly is even better with a teammate on base, hitting a team-high .429 on the season with 18 hits in 42 at-bats.
His biggest hit of the season came on Sunday, April 8, against Iowa, as he blasted a triple to the center field wall that scored two Huskers to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Kelly then scored the winning run on a walk-off single by Kale Kiser.
Kelly has hit throughout the Husker lineup, totaling 29 hits in 81 at bats, including four doubles, two triples and four home runs, while driving in 19 runs and scoring another 16.
When it Counts
After hitting below .300 last season with runners in scoring position, the Huskers have come up with big hits and are hitting .351 on the season.
Four Huskers are hitting over .400 with runners in scoring position, led Josh Scheffert's .500 average (14-for-28).
Richard Stock is next with a .465 average (20-for-43), while Kurt Farmer's is close behind with a .450 average (9-for-20). Kash Kalkowski rounds out the group with a .405 average (15-for-37). Overall, 10 Huskers are hitting .300 or better with runners in scoring position.
What a Fourth
The Huskers strongest inning this season has been the fourth, where they've outscored opponents 54-8. The Huskers didn't give up a run in the fourth inning until Illinois plated one run against the Huskers in the team's 25th game of the season on Saturday, March 24.
Looking at just the first eight innings of a game, Nebraska has outscored or their opponents this season in every inning but the first, where they have just 16 runs on the year, while giving up 24.
In the first three innings of the game the Huskers hold a slim 84-75 advantage in runs, but they have destroyed opponent pitching their second time through the order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings with a 124-44 advantage.
In the seventh and eighth innings the Huskers keep up the pressure and hold a 62-38 advantage, including 41 runs in the eighth alone.
After scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth against Iowa on Sunday, April 8, to win the game, 9-8, and take the series from the Hawkeyes, 2-1, the Huskers have posted two walk-off wins this season.
Earlier this year at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn., junior Rich Sanguinetti completed a ninth-inning comeback against New Mexico State with a two-run walk-off home run.
The two-run shot on Saturday, March 3, was the first home run of Sanguinetti's Husker career and polished off a four-run ninth inning to seal a victory.
for the Team
In 2011 the Huskers were hit by pitch 89 times, which tied them for 13th nationally. The team was led by Bryan Peters, who was hit 18 times to tie for 20th nationally.
In 2012, the Huskers have been hit 49 times, led by Kale Kiser's 13 HBP's, which ranks first in the Big Ten Conference.
Kiser and teammate Bryan Peters, who is second on the 2012 squad with seven HBP's, continue to climb the Husker career chart and rank third and fourth, respectively.
DJ Belfonte (2007-10) sits second on the career list with 59 hit-by-pitches and Daniel Bruce (2002-05) holds the NU career record with 67 hit-by-pitches.
Senior Kale Kiser is tough on opposing pitchers with his great eye at the plate. During his career at Nebraska, Kiser has walked 89 times and struck out just 64 times. His 89 career walks rank 10th on the Huskers' all-time charts, while Joe Simokaitis is ninth (90) and Associate Head Coach Will Bolt ranks eighth (91).
Kiser is hitting just .237 on the season, but continues to get on base for the Huskers with a .462 on base percentage. His team-high 26 walks tied for third most in the Big Ten and his 13 HBP's are tops in the league.
Huskers Picked Fourth by
The Big Ten coaches have picked Nebraska to finish fourth out of the league's 11 teams in 2012. Three Husker juniors were also named to the 'Players to Watch List', including right-handled pitcher Travis Huber, right-handed pitcher Tom Lemke and first baseman/designated hitter Kash Kalkowski.
After winning a share of the of the Big Ten title last season for the first time since 1979, Michigan State was picked as the league favorite. The Spartans were followed by Purdue, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Illinois, as only the top six teams were released by the conference office.
Chicks Dig It
After hitting 30 home runs in 55 games last season, led by Cody Asche's 12 home runs, the Huskers have already surpassed last year's total with 33 home runs in 38 games this season.
In the Big Ten, Indiana, Penn State and Michigan are the only other teams with more than 20 homers with 27, 23 and 20, respectively.
After hitting three home runs last weekend at Ohio State, Josh Scheffert leads the team with seven home runs and Chad Christensen is close behind with six.
Kale Kiser has hit a career-high five, while Pat Kelly and Kash Kalkowski each have four.
Eight Draftees on 2012
For the third straight year, Nebraska's 2012 roster boasts a total of eight Huskers who have been previously selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, including Kash Kalkowski and Travis Huber, who have each been picked twice.
90 Feet Away
When the Huskers get a runner to third base with less than two outs, it has nearly been a lock during conference play that NU will score a run. In nine Big Ten games, NU posted 31 RBIs in 40 opportunities (.725).
Chad Christensen is 6-for-9 (.667) on the year and Kale Kiser is 6-for-7 (.857)
Overall on the year, the Huskers have driven in 82 runs in 127 chances (.646).
Texarkana CC transfer Rich Sanguinetti had been a key cog in the Husker offense so far this year. Hitting out of the two-hole in 34 of his 35 starts, Sanguinetti is hitting .336 (.326 during Big Ten play) on the year with a team-high 11 sacrifice bunts and is second on the team with 33 RBI's.
All but three players on this year's 32-man roster have seen the field though the first 38 games of the season.
Just looking at the freshman class, three youngsters have earned starts in the field, while on the mound Aaron Bummer, Kyle Kubat and Jeff Stovall have each seen time, including three starts from Kubat.