Huskers Host #16 Hoosiers for Key Big Ten Battle
Probable Starters: RHP Christian DeLeon (5-3) vs. LHP Joey DeNato (6-1)
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Sunday, May 5 – 1:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: LHP Kyle Kubat (3-0) vs. LHP Kyle Hart (7-0)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Monday, May 6 – 12:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: LHP Aaron Bummer (1-0) vs. Aaron Slegers (6-1)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Up Next for the Huskers
The Nebraska baseball team (20-23, 11-4 Big Ten) hosts the No. 16 Indiana Hoosiers (34-8, 11-4 Big Ten) at Hawks Field for a pivotal Big Ten series.
The Huskers and Hoosiers enter the weekend tied for second place in the conference standing, with both holding 11-4 records.
Due to final exams, the three-game series will start on Saturday at 6:05 p.m., continue on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. and conclude on Monday at 12:05 p.m.
Nebraska took the series opener in Bloomington, Ind., last season, 13-2, behind three NU homers and Kyle Kubat’s first career conference start. The Hoosiers bounced back and swept a doubleheader the next day to take the three-game series.
The Huskers are coming off a week that saw them go 1-4 in five non-conference games, but they did end the week with a 3-1 win over Rutgers at the TD Ameritrade Classic.
Indiana was 5-0 last week, starting with a pair of non-conference wins over Eastern Kentucky and Indiana State. The Hoosiers capped the week with a three-game home sweep of Michigan.
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 14.
TV Coverage this Week
Saturday’s game with Indiana is scheduled to be shown live on the Big Ten Network.
Time Warner (SD-24, HD-333)
DISH Network (SD/HD-439)
Sunday’s game with Indiana is scheduled to be shown across the state of Nebraska on NET.
Time Warner (SD-12, HD-1012)
DISH Network (SD/HD-12)
Web Streams this Week
Saturday’s series open will be streamed live on BTN2Go.com.
Sunday’s game will be streamed on BTN.com (subscription required).
HuskersNSide will provide a live stream of Monday’s game (subscription).
Scouting the No. 16 Indiana Hoosiers
Picked as the preseason favorite to win the conference by the league coaches, the Indiana Hoosiers come to Lincoln ranked as high at 16th in the national polls.
The Hoosiers and Huskers are tied for second in the Big Ten with 11-4 records, while the Hoosiers carry a conference-best 34-8 overall record in the weekend.
Indiana posted an 18-game winning streak earlier this season that started with a win at Florida on March 3 and lasted until April 7 when Illinois won the series finale between he two teams in Bloomington, Ind.
The Hoosiers are currently on an eight-game winning streak, including a three-game sweep of Michigan last weekend at home.
The eight-game winning streak is on the heels of a four-game losing streak that saw the Hoosiers get swept at Michigan State followed by a midweek loss at home to Ball State.
Indiana has played well on the road this season, as they are 11-5 in true road games and 9-1 in neutral site games. The Hoosiers have played away from home during Big Ten play twice, going 3-3. They swept at Iowa and were swept at Michigan State.
Offensively, the Hoosiers enter the week ranked in the top 25 nationally in eight different categories, including batting average (11th - .315), slugging percentage (12th - .460), doubles per game (15th - 2.17), scoring (17th - 7.2), home runs per game (19th - 0.79), home runs (20th - 33), doubles (22nd - 91) and hits (24th - 464).
Three Hoosiers rank in the top 35 nationally in batting average, including sophomore Kyle Schwarber, who ranks 25th with a .397 average. A Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American last season, Schwarber leads the team with 10 home runs and is second on the squad with 38 RBIs. He has just 22 strikeouts on the year, compared to 24 walks.
Fellow sophomore Scott Donley has made a big impact in his first season on the field for the Hoosiers after he sat out the 2012 season due to his transfer from Virginia Tech. The 6-2 Crown Point, Ind., native is hitting .390 and ranks 23rd in the country with his team-high 47 RBIs.
Justin Cureton is hitting just .238 on the year, but finds a way to get on base and ranks 12th in the country with 1.14 runs per game. He has scored 48 runs on the season to rank 18th in the nation and has a team-high 18 steals in 24 attempts.
The Huskers will also need to pitch wisely to reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Sam Travis, who is hitting .305 with six homers and 35 RBIs. He and Dustin DeMuth are tied for the team lead in doubles with 14 each.
DeMuth is hitting .390 and has eight stolen bases and 32 runs scored.
Indiana’s pitching staff has been just as good, ranking fourth in the country with a team ERA of 2.34. IU’s staff holds opposing hitters to a .242 average, while giving up 133 runs (100 earned) on 346 hits and 115 walks over 384.1 innings, while striking out 259.
On Saturday the Huskers are scheduled to see junior lefty Joey DeNato, who was a third-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago. The 5-10 lefty is 6-1 on the year in 11 starts with a 2.60 ERA. The San Diego, Calif., native has given up 62 hits in 62.1 innings of work, but has allowed just 22 runs (18 earned). He has given up 25 walks, but is third in the conference with 55 strikeouts, including 29 during league play. DeNato hasn’t lost a game since February 22, when Indiana dropped its series opener at Georgia Southern 12-7. He went just 2.0 innings, giving up five runs (2 earned) on six hits.
The Huskers will face another lefty on Sunday in sophomore Kyle Hart. A Big Ten All-Freshman pick last season, Hart has a perfect 7-0 record in 11 starts in 2013 and a 2.39 ERA. The 6-5 Cincinnati, Ohio, native had thrown a team-high 64.0 innings, giving up 28 runs (17 earned) on 62 hits and 18 walks. He has struck out 39 on the year, while holding opponents to a .256 average.
Righty Aaron Slegers is schedule to take the bump on Monday for the Hoosiers. The 6-10 sophomore has moved into the weekend rotation after throwing just 7.1 innings in a relief role last season. In 11 starts, the Scottsdale, Ariz., native is 6-1 with a 1.85 ERA. In 58.1 innings of work, he has given up 20 runs (12 earned) on 58 hits and 12 walks, while striking out 36. His only loss of the season came against Illinois on April 7 in the series finale, as the Illini snapped the Hoosiers’ 18-game winning streak. Slegers went 5.0 innings, giving up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits.
Ryan Halstead has taken over at the back of the bullpen for Jonny Hoffman, who was dismissed from the team prior to the start of the 2013 season after being named the league’s top reliever a year ago. Husker fans may remember that Hoffman saved both games of doubleheader last season in Bloomington.
Halstead has seven saves on the year in 17 appearances. The junior righty has a 2.39 ERA over 26.1 innings of work, giving up seven runs (all earned) on 15 hits and nine walks, while punching out 28. A native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Halstead has held opposing hitters to a .165 average.
Going to be a Fun Finish
With just three weeks to go on the Big Ten schedule, none of the league’s 11 baseball teams has been mathematically eliminated form the six-team Big Ten Tournament.
The Huskers and Hoosiers enter the weekend tied for second place in the Big Ten standings, as each team sits at 11-4 (.733) on the season, while Minnesota is first in the league with a 9-3 (.750) record and Ohio State is fourth with a 12-6 record (.667).
Nebraska faces Minnesota next weekend for a three-game series in Minneapolis.
Michigan State is narrowly holding onto the fifth spot with a 7-5 record (.583), while Illinois and Michigan are right behind in sixth at 8-7 (.533). The Northwestern Wildcats are one good weekend away from putting themselves back in the top six at 7-11 (.389).
The Big Ten Conference standings are based on winning percentage.
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 26 games, Sanguinetti is second on the team with a .376 batting average, while producing five doubles, one homer and 12 RBIs. He has posted a .444 on-base percentage and is slugging .451.
Since switching to the leadoff spot, Sanguinetti has seen his overall season average rise .135 points from .175 to .310, which ranks fourth on the team.
A first-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago, Sanguinetti is second on the team with 14 multi-hit games in the 26-game stretch, including a four-hit game and five, three-hit games.
Over Nebraska’s first 17 games of the season, Sanguinetti hit .175 with just two multi-hit games.
Returning to Form
Preseason All-American 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 ranks second on the team with a .336 average.
Over the past 24 games entering Saturday, Pritchard is hitting a team-best .384 with seven doubles. During the stretch he put together a 20-game hitting streak that was snapped last Friday at Creighton..
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.
Junior Christian DeLeon has been a welcome addition to the Husker pitching staff in 2013.
A transfer from Blinn CC in Brenham, Texas, DeLeon was projected to be a long-relief arm and a spot starter for the Huskers in 2013. But with an injury to Kyle Kubat at the beginning of the year, DeLeon was throw into the weekend rotation to start the season and has been the Huskers’ most consistent starter, posting a 5-3 record.
The 6-3 righty has gone at least 6.0 innings in nine of his 11 starts, including three 8.0-inning starts. The junior leads the team with 71.2 innings pitched, while Ryan Hander is the only other Husker to thrown over 40.0 innings with 40.1 innings of work.
DeLeon holds a 3.64 ERA on the year and leads the team with 37 strikeouts, while issuing just 11 walks.
Nebraska’s defense has played solid behind its pitching staff this season.
The Husker entered the week with the fifth-best team fielding percentage in the country at .982.
Michigan State and Ohio State are tied for second in the Big Ten Conference in fielding at .975, which ranks 38th nationally.
We’re Going Streaking
Five Huskers have put together hitting streaks of 11 or more games this year, including Michael Pritchard, who produced his second career hitting streak of 20 games or more.
With his double in the first inning against Kansas State on Wednesday, April 24, Pritchard became the first player in program history to put together two 20-game or more hitting streaks while at Nebraska.
Last season, Pritchard put together one of the top individual performances at the plate, as he rattled off a 25-game hitting streak. He tied Derek Dukart for the third-longest hitting streak in NU history at 25 games.
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.
This season 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.
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.
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 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 six 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).
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 has quickly posted a 3-0 record following a win over Rutgers at the TD Ameritrade Classic on Sunday, April 28. It was the sophomore lefty’s third start in 13 days, as he also added a win the on April 21 at 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.
The Huskers are 20-23 in 2013, but 13 of their 23 losses have come by two runs or less, including eight losses by one run. The Huskers are 6-13 in games decided by two runs or less.
Climbing the Hit List
Earlier this season, senior Chad Christensen became the 14th player in Nebraska history to join the 200-hit club with his walk-off single in the bottom of the 16th inning against Northwestern on Friday, March 29.
On the year, Christensen leads the Huskers with a .363 average (61-for-168) and is second on the team with 27 RBIs.
Prior to Christensen, Jake Opitz was the last Husker to join the club, as he ended his four-year career in 2008 with 227 career hits.
Christensen needs one hit to tie Opitz for 12th on NU’s career-hits list.
Matt Hooper holds the school record with 338 career hits and is one of just two players in school history to have topped 300 hits. Jeff Leise sits second on the career charts with 305 career hits.
Get the Offense Going
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 has won each game that Sanguinetti has started with a double.
So far in 2013, the Nebraska baseball has played one of the tougher schedules in the country.
The Huskers will/have played 17 games against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams, including a doubleheader 2012 College World Series qualifier Arkansas at Hawks Field.
As of Wednesday, May 1, Boyd’s World ranks Nebraska’s schedule as the 19th toughest schedule in the country and Warren Nolan ranks it as the 23rd-toughest in the country.
Nebraska’s series with the Razorbacks marked the third straight year that the Huskers have hosted a CWS team from the previous season, as the Huskers took a three-game series from UCLA, 2-1, in 2011 and California split a four-game series at Hawks Field last season.
Nebraska has four teams on its 2013 schedule who were ranked in one of the four preseason polls, including Arkansas, who was ranked No.1 in the country in three polls.
Through the first 43 games of the year, Nebraska has played 14 games against a ranked opponent, but are just 3-11 in those games.
The Huskers will have a chance to improve that record this weekend with three games against No. 16 Indiana.
Senior Kash Kalkowski enters Saturday with a team-high 30 RBIs on the season.
He has twice tied a career-high with four RBIs in a game this year, the fourth and fifth times he has driven in four runs in a game during his career at NU.
The Grand Island native drove in a career-high 37 runs last season and hit a career-best .310.
Kalkowski enters Saturday with a .300 batting average.
Home Sweet Hawks
The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 12th year at Hawks Field in 2013. The Huskers are 259-91-1 (.740) since opening the park on March 5, 2002 with a 23-1 win over Nebraska-Kearney.
This season, the Huskers are 10-3 at home and 4-2 during Big Ten play.
After playing 31 homes games in 2012, the Huskers are set to host 19 games at Hawks Field in 2013, while playing 31 true roads games and three neutral site games.
Nebraska was scheduled to play 21 home games in 2013, but two games have been canceled due to weather.