Huskers Take On Big Ten Best Gophers
Probable Starters: RHP Christian DeLeon (5-4) vs. LHP Tom Windle (6-2)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Saturday, May 11 – 2:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: LHP Kyle Kubat (4-0) vs. RHP Alec Crawford (3-1)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Sunday, May 12 – 1:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: LHP Aaron Bummer (1-1) vs. DJ Snelten (4-0)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Up Next for the Huskers
With two weeks to go in 2013 regular season, the Nebraska baseball team (21-25, 12-6 Big Ten) has a pair of Big Ten series left to play.
The Huskers travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota this weekend for a three-game series with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, before wrapping up the regular season at home next weekend the they welcome the Michigan Wolverines to Hawks Field for three games.
Nebraska also has one non-conference game left to play, as it will travel to Omaha on Tuesday, May 14, for a meeting with the Creighton Bluejays at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Gophers enter the weekend atop the Big Ten standings with an 11-4 record (.733), while the Huskers (12-6) are tied for third with Ohio State, but the Buckeyes own the tie breaker since they beat the Huskers head-to-head. The Big Ten standing are based on winning percentage.
This weekend’s series at Siebert Field kicks off on Friday at 3:05 p.m. with NU’s Christian DeLeon (5-4) taking on Minnesota’s Tom Windle (6-2).
Kyle Kubat (4-0) takes the mound on Saturday for the Huskers at 2:05 p.m. against Minnesota righty Alec Crawford (3-1).
The weekends concludes on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. when sophomore lefty Aaron Bummer (1-1) battles lefty DJ Snelten (4-0).
Last season, the two teams met in Lincoln and the Huskers swept the Gophers, it was Nebraska’s first ever Big Ten Conference sweep. One run was the difference in each game, with the Huskers winning 4-3, 8-7 and 6-5.
On the Radio this Weekend
Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen Greg Sharpe 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 14.
TV Coverage this Week
None of the games this weekend will be carried on TV.
Next Tuesday’s game with Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park 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
All three games this weekend will be video streamed live on BTN.com (subscription required).
There will be no video stream next Tuesday when the Huskers take on the Creighton Bluejays at TD Ameritrade Park.
Scouting the Minnesota Golden Gophers
Picked to finish fifth in the conference in the preseason poll by the league coaches, the Minnesota Golden Gophers enter the weekend sitting in first place with two weeks to go.
The Gophers sit at 28-16 overall on the year and 11-4 in the Big Ten. Minnesota will only play 21 of its 24 league games this year because it had to cancel its entire home series with Michigan State earlier this season due to weather.
Minnesota is 17-10 at home this year at the Metrodome and Siebert Field. The Gophers played their first 21 home games at the Dome, before moving on campus to a renovated Siebert Field for six games. Minnesota has had six games at Siebert Field cancelled due to weather.
In conference play, the Gophers have played just one league series at home this season, as they took 2-of-3 from Ohio State at Siebert Field.
After playing on the road the past two weekends at Iowa and Penn State, the Gophers close out the regular season with a pair of home series against Nebraska and Illinois.
Offensively, the Gophers are hitting .265 overall on the year and have been a bit better in 15 league games with a .277 average.
The Gophers have four players hitting over .300 on the year, including Andy Henkemeyer, who leads the team with a .321 average and a team-high 24 RBIs.
Henkemeyer is also tied with Ryan Abrahamson for the team lead in doubles, 12, and is tied with Mark Tatera for the lead in triples, 3.
Abrahamson and Michael Handel are the only players on the team with more than one home run. As a team the Gophers have nine homers, with Abrahamson hitting three and Handel adding two.
The Gophers don’t have any players with double-digit steals, as Handel leads the team with nine in 10 attempts. As a squad, the Gophers are 44-for-69 on the year, exactly one steal per game.
Minnesota hasn’t used the sacrifice bunt much this year either, with just 25 sacrifices in 44 games.
Defensively the Gophers are fairly solid behind their pitchers with a .971 fielding percentage. They’ve committed just over an error a game with 50 errors on the year.
The Gophers success this year has been because of its pitching. Minnesota ranks second in the Big Ten with a overall ERA of 2.78. The Gophers staff has been just as good during league play with a 2.79 ERA.
As a team the Gophers enter the week ranked 12th in the country with 7.43 hits allowed per game, while Friday starter Tom Windle ranks 21st individually with 5.93 hits allowed per nine innings.
Speaking of Windle, the southpaw is 6-2 on the year with a 1.82 ERA in 11 starts. He will go deep into games, proven by his four complete games on the year.
Projected as 43rd-best prospect in this summer’s MLB Draft by Perfect Game, Windle has given up 19 runs (15 earned) on 49 hits over 74.1 innings of work. He ranks second in the Big Ten with 69 punchouts on the year, to 21 walks, and leads the conference with an opponent’s batting average of .187.
The 6-4 lefty from Maple Grove, Minn., was limited last season due to a shoulder injury, making just four starts in 18 appearances. He threw 2.1 innings of scoreless relief in the series finale last year at Nebraska. The Huskers won the game 8-7, with Windle giving up one hit, while striking out three.
Nebraska is scheduled to see junior Alec Crawford on Saturday. The 6-2 righty is a native of Wilton, Iowa, and transferred to Minnesota after playing two seasons at Des Moines Area Community College, where he was a NJCAA First-Team All-American in 2012.
Crawford has made just seven appearances on the year, six starts, and is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA. Over 33.1 innings of work he has given up 13 runs (10 earned) on 28 hits and seven walks, while striking out 12. He has also hit six batters on the year.
Junior DJ Snelten takes the mound on Sunday and will be looking to get back at the Huskers, who knocked him out of last year’s series finale after just 3.2 innings. Snelten gave up seven runs (all earned) on eight hits and two walks a year ago at Hawks Field.
In 2013, Snelten is 4-0 in seven appearances, five starts, with a 1.85 ERA. Snelten has thrown just 39.0 innings, including one complete game.
The 6-7 lefty from Ingelside, Ill., has held opposing hitters to a .201 batting average, while striking out 30 and walking 14.
At the end of the game the Huskers will expect to see Billy Soule, who leads the team with eight saves. The senior righty, has a 3.09 ERA and leads the team in appearances with 17, working 23.1 innings. The Hamel, Minn., native has given up nine runs (8 earned) on 24 hits and 10 walks, while striking out 19.
One Tough Out
Chad Christensen has tough on Big Ten pitching all season, as the senior leads all players during conference play in hits (37), batting average (.487), on-base percentage (.539) and runs scored (24).
Christensen has a shot at the Big Ten record for hits in a conference season, set by Michigan’s Chris Getz in 2004 when he had 53 hits. Christensen would need to average 2.83 hits over Nebraska’s final six Big Ten games to top Getz’s mark.
Christensen’s .487 average is also tops in the league since 1998 when Ohio State’s Jason Trott hit .532.
Since 1939, only six times has a player finished the season with the top average in the conference during league play with an average of .480 or better.
Get on Base
NU leadoff hitter Rich Sanguinetti has reached base in 30-straight games entering the weekend, while Michael Pritchard is right behind with a 29-game streak.
Pritchard also put together a 31-game on-base streak last season.
Since 2000, 10 Huskers have reached base in 30 or more consecutive games during a season, including Luke Gorsett who put together a 48-game streak in 2006.
Going to be a Fun Finish
Entering the weekend with two weeks to go on the Big Ten schedule, 10 teams are still in the running for the six spots at the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., May 22-26.
Penn State is the only team that has mathematically been eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament.
The Huskers enter the weekend sitting in the No. 4 spot for the tournament with a 12-6 record (.667). With the Ohio State Buckeyes (14-7, .667) playing out of conference this weekend at home against Oregon, the Huskers have an opportunity to jump ahead of the Buckeyes with sweep of the Gophers.
Nebraska can also move ahead of the Gophers by winning the weekends series.
If Nebraska takes 2-out-of-3 the teams would have the same winning percentage, .667, but Nebraska would have the head-to-head tie breaker. With a sweep of the Gophers, Nebraska would move to 15-6 (.714), while the Gophers would fall to 11-7 (.611).
Nebraska wraps up conference play at home next weekend when it hosts the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan enters the week sixth in the conference with a 10-8 (.556) league record. The Wolverines host Purdue (5-13, .278) this weekend in Ann Arbor and can eliminate the Boilermakers from making the tournament with a pair of wins.
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 29 games, Sanguinetti is third on the team with a .364 batting average and has reached base at least once in every game. The senior from Arlington, Texas, has produced five doubles, one homer and 12 RBIs. He has posted a .442 on-base percentage and is slugging .426.
Since switching to the leadoff spot, Sanguinetti has seen his overall season average rise over .125 points from .175 to .306, which ranks fourth on the team.
A first-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago, Sanguinetti is third on the team with 14 multi-hit games in the 29-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.
The Crafty Lefty
After being sidelined with shoulder soreness for the first 33 games of the 2013 campaign, sophomore Kyle Kubat has won each of his four starts, including wins over No. 10 Arkansas and No. 16 Indiana.
The sophomore lefty carries a 1.75 ERA into his start on Saturday, giving up five runs on 13 hits in 25.2 innings of work.
Kubat made his 2013 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.
Last season during conference play, Kubat was 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in six appearances, including three starts.
Solid with the Glove
Nebraska’s defense has played solid behind its pitching staff this season.
The Husker enter the week with the fourth-best fielding percentage in the country at .981.
Michigan State and Ohio State are tied for second in the Big Ten Conference in fielding at .975, which ranks 34th nationally.
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 started its first five series on the right foot, going 5-0 in Big Ten series openers. Nebraska is now 5-1 on the season after dropping its first series opener of the year last Friday with a 8-6 loss to No. 16 Indiana.
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).
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 .327 average.
Over the past 27 games entering Friday, Pritchard is hitting .366 with eight doubles. During the stretch he put together a 20-game hitting streak that started on March 22 at Illinois and was snapped on April 26 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.
The 6-3 righty has gone at least 6.0 innings in 10 of his 12 starts, including six starts where he has gone at least 7.0 innings and three 8.0-inning starts.
The junior leads the team with 78.2 innings pitched, while Ryan Hander (42.1) and Dylan Vogt (40.1) are the only other Huskers to throw more than 40.0 innings.
DeLeon is 5-4 on the year and holds a 3.78 ERA. He leads the team with 40 strikeouts, while issuing just 11 walks.
DeLeon has issued a combined two walks in 28.1 innings over his past four starts.
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 .380 average (68-for-179) and is second on the team with 30 RBIs, one behind Kash Kalkowski’s team-high 31 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 five hits to tie DJ Belfonte for 10th 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.
Heating Up for Big Ten Play
The Husker bats have come alive during Big Ten play, as Nebraska leads the Big Ten in batting average (.335), on-base percentage (.405), runs (140), hits (234), RBIs (123) and walks (72).
In Nebraska’s first 19 games of the season, the Huskers averaged 7.5 hits per game, but have nearly doubled the total with 13.0 hits per game during conference play.
The Huskers are 21-25 in 2013, but 14 of their 25 losses have come by two runs or less, including eight losses by one run. The Huskers are 7-14 in games decided by two runs or less.
Rely on Roeder
Josh Roeder has developed into a shutdown arm for the Huskers at the back of the bullpen.
Roeder is 0-3 on the year, but has posted three saves and carries a 1.93 ERA into the weekend.
Roeder is not overly imposing on the mound, but packs a punch in his 6-0 frame. Over 23.1 innings of works he has notched 23 strikeouts to just five walks.
Nebraska has already played seven doubleheaders this season through 46 games.
Nebraska is 8-6 in the 14 doubleheader games.
NU was swept at then No. 22 Cal State Fullerton during the season’s opening weekend, but then swept Northern Colorado at Hawks Field.
The third doubleheader of the year 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.
After winning its Big Ten opener on Friday, March 22 at Illinois, the two teams played a doubleheader the following day, with Illinois winning game one on a walk-off squeeze, 8-7, while the Huskers took game two, 6-4, to win the three-game series.
Huskers picked up its second doubleheader sweep of the year when it swept No. 10 Arkansas at Hawks Field on April 16, including a combined no-hitter in game one.
NU picked up a third sweep when it took two from Purdue on Saturday, April 20. It was set to be a three-game series, but cold weather and rain on Friday resulted in a doubleheader on Saturday.
The Huskers were swept in a doubleheader for the second time this year at TD Ameritrade Park, when OSU took both games, 5-3 and 4-0.
Nebraska is 3-4 in the first game of doubleheader this year, but 5-2 in game two of a double dip.
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.
The last time Nebraska played more than seven doubleheaders in a season was 1997, when they played 12 double dips.
Since 1997, the Huskers have played seven doubleheaders in a season three times prior to 2013, including 1998, 2001, and 2009.
Hits in Bunches
Senior Chad Christensen has been tough on opposing pitchers this season, as the NU left fielder leads the team with 24 of the Huskers’ 120 multi-hit games. Pat Kelly is next with 17 multi-hit games, while Rich Sanguinetti has 16 multi-hit games Michael Pritchard has 15.
Christensen has six, three hits games, and Sanguinetti has five.
Kelly has produced three four-hit games, while Christensen, Sanguinetti and Kash Kalkowski each have one.
13 different Huskers have produced a multi-hit game this season, including 10 who have a three-hit game.
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 8, Boyd’s World ranked Nebraska’s schedule as the 18th toughest schedule in the country and Warren Nolan ranked it as the 10th-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 46 games of the year, Nebraska has played 17 games against a ranked opponent, but are just 4-13 in those games.
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.
Senior Kash Kalkowski enters Friday with a team-high 31 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 Friday with a .292 batting average.
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.
Sanguinetti rides a 12-game hitting streak in to Friday’s series opener with Minnesota
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.