Huskers Head to Omaha for First College World Series
Nebraska in the 2001 College World Series
Current Record: 50-14, 20-8 Big 12 (Big 12 Champions, College World Series Qualifier)
Rankings: 3rd (Collegiate Baseball); 3rd (Baseball America); 4th (Baseball Weekly/ESPN)
CWS: June 8: Game 2 vs. Cal State-Fullerton (Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Neb.)
No. 8 Nebraska (50-14) vs. No. 1 Cal State-Fullerton (46-16)
Friday, June 8 - Rosenblatt Stadium - Omaha, Neb. - 6:07 p.m.
Radio: Pinnacle Sports Network - also www.huskers.com TV: ESPN
NU #28 RHP Shane Komine, Jr. (14-1, 3.27 ERA)
CSF #2 RHP Kirk Saarlos, Sr. (15-2, 2.24 ERA)
NU vs. CSF Series History: CSF leads 1-0, (CSF 9, NU 7 at Fullerton, March 8, 1984)
NU vs. CSF This Season: Did Not Play
Sunday: Nebraska vs. No. 4 Stanford (48-16) or No. 5 Tulane (55-11)
Sunday, June 10 - Rosenblatt Stadium - Omaha, Neb. - 2:07 or 6:07 p.m.
Nebraska Possible Starters
#33 LHP Jamie Rodrigue, So. (6-3, 6.03 ERA)
or #22 RHP R.D. Spiehs, Jr. (8-3, 4.86 ERA)
or #36 LHP Brian Rodaway, Sr. (4-3, 5.71 ERA)
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- ESPN Chat With Dave Van Horn (6:45 CDT on Wednesday)
- Entire Release in PDF Format | Updated Bios
Huskers Head to Omaha for First College World Series; Battle Top-Seeded Cal State-Fullerton on Friday Night
Lincoln -- The No. 8 seed Nebraska baseball team (50-14) claimed its first-ever trip to the College World Series by sweeping eighth-ranked Rice in the first two games of the NCAA Super Regional at Buck Beltzer Stadium in Lincoln, June 1-2.
The third-ranked Huskers will make the 50-minute drive down Interstate-80 to Rosenblatt Stadium and the 55th Annual College World Series June 8-16, where the Huskers will open play with the top-seeded Cal State-Fullerton Titans (46-16) on Friday, June 8, at 6 p.m. Nebraska?s game with the Titans will be the second game of the tournament, following the CWS opener between Stanford (48-16) and Tulane (55-11) on Friday at 2 p.m.
The atmosphere at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium should be unmatched in CWS history. Even before Nebraska takes the field at ?The Blatt? for the first time in CWS play, President George W. Bush will throw out the first pitch before the first game between the Cardinal and Green Wave.
The excitement surrounding Nebraska baseball reached a fever pitch when the Huskers came back from a 5-2 deficit after seven innings to score four runs in the ninth inning and three more runs in the 10th to claim a 9-6 win over Rice in front of a school-record crowd of 5,484 in the last baseball game ever played at Buck Beltzer Stadium in Lincoln on June 2.
The crowd at ?The Buck? surpassed the 5,353 fans that saw All-American Shane Komine mow down the Owls in the Huskers? 7-0 win on Friday, June 1. In all, nearly 25,000 fans attended the Huskers? five NCAA Tournament games at Buck Beltzer Stadium, closing the doors on the stadium with the top five attendance marks in school history.
Nebraska is a perfect 5-0 in 2001 NCAA Tournament games and carries a nine-game winning streak with it to Omaha. The Huskers have won their five NCAA games by a combined score of 51-26, averaging 10.2 runs per contest, while holding opponents to 5.2 runs per game. In Komine?s two NCAA appearances, he has gone 17 innings, with the Huskers outscoring their opponents, 23-6.
The pitching matchup between Komine and Cal State-Fullerton starter Kirk Saarloos could be the best in the tournament, as the two pitchers have combined to win 29 straight decisions. Komine (14-1, 3.27 ERA) will take a school-record 14-game winning streak to Omaha, while Saarlos (15-2, 2.24 ERA) has reeled off 15 consecutive victories.
In addition to the two first-team All-American right-handers on the hill, Nebraska features first-team All-American first baseman Dan Johnson (.360, 24 HR, 85 RBI) and third-team All-American second baseman/outfielder John Cole (.417, 9 HR, 59 RBI, 28 SB), while Cal State-Fullerton adds first-team Freshman All-America pitchers Darric Merrell (7-4, 3.17 ERA) and Chad Cordero (3-3, 1.53 ERA, 13 saves).
?The Buck? Stops Here: Husker Fans Send Old Ballpark Out with a Bang
Nebraska?s five NCAA Tournament games closed the book on Buck Beltzer Stadium, the home of Husker baseball for the past 23 seasons. The Huskers sent the old park out in style, advancing to the first College World Series appearance in school history with a 9-6 come-from-behind victory in 10 innings over Rice. The 5,484 fans in attendance at the second NCAA Super Regional game with Rice on June 2 marked the largest crowd in school history, surpassing the 5,353 fans at the first game with the Owls on June 1.
Overall, the Huskers drew the five largest crowds in school and stadium history with their first-ever NCAA Tournament games in Lincoln. The Huskers attracted 4,936 fans in the NCAA Regional semifinal against Rutgers on May 26, after drawing 4,604 fans for the opener against Northern Iowa on May 25. In the regional title game, 4,683 Big Red faithful watched the Huskers come back to beat Rutgers, 14-10.
The two-game NCAA Super Regional total of 10,837 and the three-game NCAA Regional total of 14,223 fans, brought Nebraska?s total NCAA Tournament attendance to 25,060. The attendance in those five games surpassed the previous season record at Buck Beltzer Stadium, while pushing Nebraska total home attendance for the year to more than 72,000 fans.
Buck Beltzer Stadium also provided the Huskers with a major home-field advantage this season. Nebraska posted a 23-4 record at home with wins in 16 of its last 17 games, including nine straight victories before closing the stadium gates for the last time. The Huskers also produced a perfect 5-0 record at Buck Beltzer Stadium in NCAA Tournament play.
College World Series Practice and Press Conference Schedule
The Huskers are scheduled to practice at Rosenblatt Stadium on Thursday, June 7, from Noon to 12:50 p.m. All practices are open to the public and media. Cal State-Fullerton is scheduled to practice on Thursday, June 7, from 11 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Nebraska Coach Dave Van Horn will meet the media at the Preseries Press Conference at the Hall of Fame Room in Rosenblatt Stadium from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The Hall of Fame Room is located on the first-base side of the concourse level. Media unable to attend the press conference can listen to the press conference via a live audio feed by dialing (913) 981-5532. The press conference also will be available on a live satellite uplink with coordinates to be announced.
A team autograph session will be held at Rosenblatt from 3 to 6 p.m., before the Opening Ceremonies and Home Run Challenge conclude the day?s activities from 7 to 9 p.m.
College World Series Postgame Procedures
Interviews with Nebraska players and coaches will occur approximately 10 minutes after the conclusion of each game in the Hall of Fame Room at Rosenblatt Stadium. The losing coach and at least two players from the losing team will go first at the press conference, followed by the coach and at least two players from the winning team.
All locker rooms will be open to the media after the 10-minute cooling-off period for players and assistant coaches not participating in the formal postgame interview session in the Hall of Fame Room. The locker room will be open for 30 minutes after the conclusion of the 10-minute cooling-off period.
A tape-delayed satellite uplink of each press conference also will be provided. Uplink times and satellite coordinates will be listed in the press box.
Nebraska?s NCAA Tournament History: Nebraska is making its first trip to the College World Series in 2001.
The Huskers have earned back-to-back NCAA Super Regional bids, including their first super regional title in 2001, after falling 2-1 in the 2000 NCAA Super Regional at Stanford. Nebraska has made three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history in four years under Coach Dave Van Horn.
Nebraska owns a five-game NCAA Tournament winning streak heading into the CWS, going 2-0 against Rice (7-0, 9-6 in 10 inn.) in super regional action, after going 3-0 in regional play with a 16-6 win over Northern Iowa and back-to-back wins over Rutgers (5-4, 14-10). In three tournament appearances under Van Horn, the Huskers own a 10-4 mark.
Overall, Nebraska has improved to 14-10 all time in the NCAA Tournament. Junior pitchers Shane Komine (3) and R.D. Spiehs (3) have combined for six of Nebraska?s 10 NCAA Tournament wins under Van Horn. The pair is 3-0 this season in NCAA play, as Komine won his regional start against Northern Iowa and his super regional start against Rice. Spiehs picked up a win in relief in his only regional appearance in the semifinal victory over Rutgers. He did not pitch in the super regional against Rice.
Nebraska has never faced Cal State-Fullerton in NCAA Tournament competition, and has met the Titans just once in the regular season, with CSF claiming a 9-7 victory in Fullerton on March 8, 1984.
In 2000, Nebraska earned the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Regional at Minneapolis and defeated Butler (2-1), Minnesota (4-1) and Wichita State (8-1) to advance to the NCAA Super Regional at Stanford.
In 1999, the Huskers made their first NCAA Regional appearance under Van Horn, traveling to Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. Nebraska lost its regional opener to Mississippi State (18-14), before rebounding with a win over Bowling Green (10-5). The Huskers were eliminated by Mississippi State (13-7).
Nebraska made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1979 at the Northeast Regional, where the Huskers lost to St. John?s (5-0) and defeated Navy (13-4) before being eliminated by Connecticut (15-0). In NU?s second NCAA appearance in 1980 at the Midwest Regional, the Huskers defeated BYU (12-0), before losing to Michigan (7-0). Nebraska stayed alive by defeating BYU (12-4), before being eliminated by the Wolverines (12-3).
The Huskers made their only other NCAA appearance at the 1985 West I Regional Tournament, where they defeated Pepperdine (4-2), before losing to Stanford (9-8) and Pepperdine (7-6) to close the tournament.
Nebraska All Time Against the 2001 College World Series Field
The Huskers will be relatively unaquainted with their 2001 College World Series competition with a combined 3-6 all-time record against the other seven teams in the tournament. Nebraska has not faced any of the teams in 2001.
Nebraska is 0-1 all time against Cal State-Fullerton, with the Titans claiming a 9-7 win in the only previous meeting between the schools on March 8, 1984 in Fullerton, Calif. Nebraska is also 0-1 all time against Tulane, with the Green Wave posting a 4-1 win on March 20, 1981, at a tournament in Hawaii.
The Huskers are most familiar with the other team in their half of the bracket, Stanford, playing five games against the Cardinal over the last 15 years, including a three-game super regional series at Stanford in 2000. The Cardinal won that series with the Huskers, 2-1, delaying Nebraska?s first-ever trip to the CWS by one season. The Huskers opened that series with a 7-3 win over the Cardinal at Sunken Diamond, as R.D. Spiehs picked up the win. Stanford bounced back with a 7-1 win in game two, before punching their ticket to Omaha with a 5-3 win over the Huskers in the final game. Nebraska?s other meetings with Stanford came in 1993 and 1985.
Nebraska has never played Miami, Tennessee or Georgia in regular-season or postseason action, but does own a 2-0 all-time series advantage over USC. The Huskers toppled the Trojans, 6-3, on March 22, 1979, and beat USC, 9-6, on March 7, 1984. Both games were in Los Angeles.
With three teams from California in the tournament, including two in Nebraska?s half of the bracket, the Huskers are 16-29 all time against teams from the Golden State.
NU vs. CWS Field in 2001: 0-0
NU vs. CWS Field All Time: 3-6
NU vs. California Teams All Time: 16-29
NU vs. CSF History: Cal State-Fullerton leads 1-0
March 8, 1984: Cal State-Fullerton 9, Nebraska 7 (at Fullerton, Calif.)
NU vs. Stanford History: Stanford leads, 4-1 (Cardinal won 2000 Super Regional series, 2-1)
June 4, 2000: Stanford 5, Nebraska 3 (at Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto, Calif.)
June 3, 2000: Stanford 7, Nebraska 1 (at Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto, Calif.)
June 2, 2000: Nebraska 7, Stanford 3 (at Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto, Calif.)
March 23, 1993: Stanford 14, Nebraska 3 (at Fresno, Calif.)
May 25, 1985: Stanford 9, Nebraska 8 (at Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto, Calif.)
NU vs. Tulane History: Tulane leads 1-0
March 20, 1981: Tulane 4, Nebraska 1 (Hawaii)
NU vs. USC History: NU leads 2-0
March 7, 1984: Nebraska 9, USC 6 (at Los Angeles, Calif.)
March 22, 1979: Nebraska 6, USC 3 (at Los Angeles, Calif.)
NU vs. Georgia History: Never Played
NU vs. Miami History : Never Played
NU vs. Tennessee History: Never Played
Huskers in the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft
Four Huskers were taken in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft on June 5. Junior right fielder Adam Stern was the first Husker taken, going to the Atlanta Braves with the 105th overall pick in the third round. Stern was originally drafted out of high school in the 22nd round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Junior second baseman/outfielder John Cole was the next Husker chosen, going to the Seattle Mariners with the 159th overall pick in the fifth round. Cole was undrafted out of high school.
Senior first baseman Dan Johnson went to the Oakland A?s with the 221st overall pick in the seventh round. Johnson was also undrafted out of high school. Junior relief pitcher Thom Ott rounded out Nebraska?s four picks in the top 10 rounds, going to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 10th round as the 310th overall pick. Ott was originally drafted in the 26th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1998.
Scouting No. 1 Seed Cal State-Fullerton (46-16)
Coach George Horton and Cal State-Fullerton (46-16) claimed the No. 1 seed in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field by posting a 41-15 regular-season mark and a Big West Conference championship.
NCAA and CWS appearances are nothing new to the Cal State-Fullerton. The Titans have qualified for 10 consecutive NCAA tournaments, which is the fifth-longest active streak, trailing only Miami (29), Florida State (24), Clemson (15) and LSU (13). CSF has advanced to its 11th College World Series, with the Titans winning CWS titles in 1979, 1984 and 1995. Overall, Cal State-Fullerton is 87-46 in NCAA Tournament play, including 23-16 in the CWS.
Horton is leading Cal State-Fullerton to his second CWS, after taking the Titans to Omaha in 1999. In his fifth season at CSF, Horton owns a 220-92-1 record.
The Titans have produced a 5-1 mark in the tournament this season, with their only loss coming against a team familiar to the Huskers -- Texas Tech. The Red Raiders knocked off the Titans, 11-5, in the first championship game for CSF in regional action on May 27, before losing to the Titans, 9-2, in the final game of the regional. Cal State-Fullerton opened the tournament by dismantling Temple, 17-3, before smashing Arizona State, 13-3.
The Titans earned their 11th trip to the College World Series by mauling Mississippi State, 13-2 and 9-3 in back-to-back games at Goodwin Field in Fullerton.
Cal State-Fullerton flew to Omaha on the wings of a dominant pitching staff that owns a collective 3.62 team ERA. First-team All-American right-hander Kirk Saarloos (15-2, 2.24 ERA) anchors the staff. The 6-0, 180-pound senior has won 15 consecutive decisions, including four complete-game shutouts. He also owns four saves. Saarloos has been the Titans? workhorse, pitching 144.2 innings with 150 strikeouts and just 23 walks. Opponents are hitting just .183 against him. Saarloos was nearly perfect earlier this season against Pacific, tossing a no-hitter and walking just one with 11 strikeouts. He also received plenty of run support in the 28-0 win on April 8.
In addition to Saarloos, freshmen All-Americans Darric Merrell and Chad Cordero add to the Titans? arsenal of arms. Cordero leads the club with an astounding 35 appearances, posting a team-best 1.53 ERA with a team-best 13 saves. He owns a 3-3 record with 57 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 58.2 innings of work, while opponents are hitting just .188 against him. Merrell trails only Saarloos with 105 innings pitching and 72 strikeouts. Merrell owns a 7-4 record in 19 appearances with 16 starts and a 3.17 ERA. Opponents are hitting .261 against him.
Jon Smith also has performed well on the mound for CSF, notching a 10-2 record with a 3.48 ERA in 17 starts. He has struck out 68 and walked 36 in 101 innings, while opponents are hitting .251 against him. Along with his talents on the hill, Smith has been perfect in the classroom, earning first-team academic All-America honors with a 4.0 GPA as a senior accounting major.
While CSF?s pitching has been remarkable, its hitting has been nearly as impressive. The Titans? lineup features nine players hitting over .300. As a team, Cal State-Fullerton is batting .320 with 58 home runs to produce 464 runs (7.5 runs per game) on the year.
Sophomore shortstop Mike Rouse is the club?s leading hitter, carrying a .395 batting average with 12 home runs and a team-leading 61 RBIs. Junior center fielder Chris Stringfellow adds a .356 average with four homers and 34 RBIs. Sophomore right fielder Joe Corapci (.346, 1 HR, 47 RBI), junior catcher Brett Kay (.331, 7 HR, 42 RBI), junior left fielder Robert Guzman (.330, 3 HR, 37 RBI), and senior second baseman David Bacani (.329, 4 HR, 28 RBI, 69 R, 18 SB) give the Titans an extremely balanced and steady lineup. Senior first baseman Aaron Rifkin supplies the most power for the Titans with a team-leading 15 home runs to go along with 57 RBIs and a .312 batting average.
Cal State-Fullerton carries a 1-0 lead in the all-time series with the only meeting resulting in a 9-7 Titan victory over the Huskers on March 8, 1984. Horton and Nebraska Coach Dave Van Horn have never coached against each other.
Nebraska?s Road to Omaha: 5-0 in NCAA Play at Buck Beltzer Stadium in Lincoln
NCAA Super Regional Recaps
Super Regional Championship Game: Nebraska 9, Rice 6 (10 inn.): The Nebraska baseball team earned its first-ever trip to the College World Series with a dramatic, come-from-behind victory over Rice in NCAA Super Regional action on June 2 in front of a school-record 5,484 fans in the final game ever played at Buck Beltzer Stadium. Nebraska, which improved to 50-14 overall, produced six runs and five of their eight hits in the ninth and 10th innings to secure the win. Trailing 5-3 after eight innings, the Huskers started their rally with one out in the top of the ninth. Jeff Blevins drew a walk, then advanced to second on a one-out single from Will Bolt. Jeff Leise loaded the bases with a bloop single that landed just in front of Rice rightfielder Billy Jacobson. Adam Stern then ripped a 3-2 pitch to left field for a single that scored pinch runner Drew Anderson and Will Bolt to tie the score at 5-5. With two NU runners on and one out, Rice pulled starter Kenny Baugh, who threw 8.1 innings, allowing six hits and five earned runs while striking out 11 and walking seven. Junior right-hander Philip Tribe went to the mound to face John Cole, who responded by driving in the go-ahead run with a single to center that plated Leise for the 6-5 advantage. A.J. Porfirio kept the Owls alive with a leadoff homer to right off NU closer Thom Ott, who retired the next three batters to send it to extra innings. The Huskers sealed the victory with a three-run 10th inning. Morris was hit by a Phillip Barzilla pitch to start the inning. NU?s Brandon Eymann reached on an error by the first baseman, and Bolt drew a walk to load the bases for Leise. The sophomore centerfielder smacked an RBI single to right, driving in pinch runner Willie Jones for the 7-6 lead. Eymann scored on Stern?s RBI groundout to second, advancing Leise and Bolt. Cole then reached on an error by the shortstop, scoring Bolt with the game?s final run. Ott (5-2) held the Owls scoreless in the bottom of the 10th, as Bolt squeezed the final out on a pop up to shallow left-center to set off the celebration.
Super Regional Game 1: Nebraska 7, Rice 0: All-American Shane Komine baffled the Rice Owls by tossing a complete-game, three-hit shutout in one of the best outings of his career, as No. 3 Nebraska ran to a 7-0 win over No. 8 Rice in the first game of the three-game NCAA Super Regional series in front of a school-record 5,353 fans at Buck Beltzer Stadium on June 1. Komine, who set the Nebraska single-season and career victory marks by improving to 14-1 on the year and 31-7 in his career, struck out 12 and allowed just three hits in his sixth complete game of the season and 14th of his career. It was Komine?s 14th straight win to break another school record previously held by Troy Brohawn, who had 13 straight wins in 1993. While Komine was running through the Rice lineup, the Huskers were running wild on Rice starter Jon Skaggs, who fell to 9-4 on the year with the loss. Nebraska stole five bases in the first 1.1 innings and the Huskers? success on the bases allowed NU to race to a 5-0 lead in the third inning, despite managing just two hits. The Huskers finished the day with a season-high six stolen bases, including two each by Will Bolt and Adam Stern, and single steals by John Cole and Jeff Leise. Along with their success in stealing bases, the Huskers succeeded in rattling Skaggs, who uncorked three wild pitches, including two that scored runs, and walked a season-high nine hitters through 7.1 innings. For the game, Skaggs allowed seven runs, six earned, on seven hits with four strikeouts. For the game, Nebraska scored seven runs on just eight hits and two Rice errors. Among the Husker hits, two were bunt singles, while the Huskers also used three sacrifice bunts and two sacrifice flies to score runs.
NCAA Regional Recaps
Regional Championship Game: Nebraska 14, Rutgers 10: Jeff Leise?s two-out, two-RBI single to center drove in Will Bolt and Jed Morris with the go-ahead runs as top-seeded Nebraska came back from a 7-2 deficit after five innings to defeat Rutgers, 14-10, in front of 4,683 fans at Buck Beltzer Stadium in Lincoln on May 27. Leise?s game-winning single followed on the heels of a two-RBI double by Morris with the Huskers down to their final strike, trailing 10-8 in the top of the ninth. For the day, Leise went 3-for-5, including a two-run homer, four RBIs and a stolen base to earn NCAA Regional Most Valuable Player honors. John Cole, who added three hits, including a two-run homer of his own, drove in Leise, before stealing third and scoring on a wild pitch to give Nebraska a four-run lead. Cole joined Leise, Matt Hopper, who reached base six times on Sunday, and pitcher R.D. Spiehs on the all-tournament team. Josh Hesse added a two-run homer, his first of the season, to help the Huskers. Waylon Byers (3-0) picked up the win with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, while Thom Ott closed the door on Rutgers by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth. Ryan Molchan took the loss after allowing six earned runs on four hits, three walks and one strikeout in 1.1 innings. In a rough day for the two pitching staffs, five Huskers and four Scarlet Knights combined to allow 24 runs, 23 hits, 19 walks and one hit batter. Nebraska, which advanced to its second straight NCAA Super Regional with the win, scored runs in each of the last five innings to produce its second consecutive come-from-behind win over Rutgers.
Regional Semifinal: Nebraska 5, Rutgers 4: John Cole continued his torrid streak at the plate with three hits, including a home run in the first inning, and an RBI single in the fourth to drive top-seeded Nebraska to a 5-4 win over No. 2 Rutgers in the NCAA Regional semifinal game in front of 4,936 fans at Buck Beltzer Stadium in Lincoln on May 26. Cole?s bat helped make a winner of junior right-hander R.D. Spiehs (8-3), who pitched 5.1 scoreless innings of relief to pick up his third straight victory. Husker closer Thom Ott pitched 2.2 innings of one-hit relief to close the game and set the Nebraska single-season record with his 11th save of the year. Cole?s hits were three of only eight Husker hits on the afternoon, as Nebraska took advantage of six walks and one hit batter by three Rutgers pitchers. The Scarlet Knights out-hit the Huskers, 12-8, but managed only four runs while leaving 11 runners on base. Starter Tom Crohan (6-2) allowed four runs, three earned, on four hits, while walking three and striking out one in 3.2 innings to take the loss.
Regional Game 1: Nebraska 16, Northern Iowa 6: All-America right-hander Shane Komine tied school records with his 13th win of the season and 30th of his career, and Nebraska?s offense supplied plenty of support with 10 runs in the first three innings to propel top-seeded Nebraska to a 16-6 victory over fourth-seeded Northern Iowa in front of 4,604 fans at Buck Beltzer Stadium on May 25. Komine, who posted his 13th straight win on the season, took a perfect game into the fourth before allowing two unearned runs on one hit. He scattered six hits and two earned runs, with nine strikeouts and one walk in eight innings. Matt Hopper led a 20-hit Husker attack with four hits, including his third grand slam of the season, and five RBIs. Jeff Leise, Jed Morris and Adam Stern each added three hits for Nebraska. Hopper got the Huskers off to a hot start with the first grand slam of the season off Northern Iowa starter Nic Ungs (11-2). Ungs, a second-team All-American who entered the game with a 1.95 ERA and had surrendered just seven homers on the year, was touched up for 10 runs on 10 hits, including three homers, in 2.2 innings for his shortest outing of the season, snapping a streak of 10 straight starts of at least seven innings for Ungs.
Three Huskers Capture All-America Honors
Junior right-handed pitcher Shane Komine became Nebraska?s first two-time, first-team All-American when Collegiate Baseball announced its 2001 Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American Baseball Team on May 25. Komine, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, owns a 14-1 record and a 3.27 ERA heading into College World Series play. He has won 14 consecutive decisions to set Nebraska records for single-season wins, consecutive wins and career wins (31-7).
Senior first baseman Dan Johnson settled for a spot on Collegiate Baseball?s second team, but claimed first-team All-America accolades from Baseball Weekly, when it released its team on May 30. Johnson, a native of Coon Rapids, Minn., set the Nebraska record with 24 home runs this season, while his 85 RBIs are just five shy of the school record of 90 RBIs held by Mike Duncan (1985). Johnson is hitting .360 on the season after earning Big 12 Tournament MVP honors by hitting .562 with five homers and 13 RBIs to set tournament records.
Junior second baseman/outfielder John Cole claimed third-team honors from Collegiate Baseball. Cole, a native of Ottawa, Ontario, enters College World Series play with a team-high .417 batting average with nine home runs, 59 RBIs, 68 runs scored and a team-leading 28 stolen bases. During 2001 postseason play (Big 12 and NCAA tournaments), Cole is batting .463 (19-for-41) with nine stolen bases. Cole went 7-for-15 with two homers, five RBIs, six runs scored and two stolen bases in Nebraska?s NCAA Regional title run. Cole was also a first-team Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Four Huskers Claim NCAA Regional All-Tournament Honors
NCAA Regional Tournament Most Valuable Player Jeff Leise headlined a list of four players who earned spots on the all-tournament team announced immediately following Nebraska?s 14-10 win over Rutgers in the championship game on May 27. Leise?s two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth capped a brilliant performance at the plate for the sophomore centerfielder from Omaha Creighton Prep. In the title game, Leise went 3-for-5, including a two-run homer, with four RBIs and two runs scored. He finished the tournament hitting .538 (7-for-13) with two homers, eight RBIs and five runs scored.
Sophomore designated hitter Matt Hopper put up equally impressive numbers at the plate, finishing with a .700 batting average (7-for-10), including his third grand slam of the season in the first inning of the tournament opener with Northern Iowa. In the championship game, he went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, while reaching base six times on the afternoon. He finished the tournament with six RBIs and six runs scored.
Junior second baseman/outfielder John Cole continued his magnificent season by hitting .467 in the NCAA Regional Tournament, going 7-for-15 with two homers, five RBIs and six runs scored. Cole?s lead-off homer in the first inning against Rutgers in the semifinal game was Nebraska?s first lead-off homer since 1998. He added a two-run homer against the Scarlet Knights in the championship game, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored to produce his 30th multiple-hit game of the year.
Junior pitcher R.D. Spiehs rounded out Nebraska?s representatives on the all-tournament team, winning his third career NCAA Tournament game by pitching 5.1 scoreless innings in the Huskers? 5-4 win over Rutgers in the semifinal on May 26. Spiehs entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the first inning, after starter Jamie Rodrigue suffered through his shortest outing of the year, allowing three earned runs in a third of an inning. Spiehs stopped the bleeding by forcing a double-play grounder on his first pitch to allow the Huskers to stay within striking distance. He left the game with two outs in the sixth inning and Nebraska clinging to a one-run lead. Spiehs struck out two and walked two, while scattering six hits. Spiehs improved to 3-0 all time in the NCAA Tournament with the win, and improved his career postseason (Big 12 and NCAA tournaments) record to 7-1.
Huskers Reap Conference Individual Awards after Winning Big 12 Crowns
Nebraska Coach Dave Van Horn headlined a list of Big 12 Conference honors claimed by the Huskers after sweeping the Big 12 regular-season and tournament crowns. Van Horn was named the league?s coach of the year for the first time after earning ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors in 2000.
All-America starting pitcher Shane Komine was named the Big 12?s Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season after posting a 14-1 record with a 3.27 ERA. The 5-10, 175, junior right-hander from Honolulu, Hawaii, earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and a spot on the all-tournament team after posting his first Big 12 Tournament win in a 7-1 victory over Oklahoma State on May 17.
Senior first baseman Dan Johnson was named the Big 12 Tournament MVP after hitting .562 with a tournament record five home runs and 13 RBIs in four games. Johnson was also a first-team all-conference pick for the Huskers, after the 6-2, 215, senior from Coon Rapids, Minn., hit .360 with a school record 24 homers and 85 RBIs.
John Cole, a junior outfielder/second baseman earned regular-season All-Big 12 honors and a spot on the Big 12 All-Tournament team. Cole, who enters the College World Series with a .417 batting average, hit .529 and set a Big 12 Tournament record with six stolen bases over the four-game stretch.
Sophomore designated hitter Matt Hopper also earned first-team Big 12 honors and a spot on the all-tournament team. The 6-4, 195-pound native of Morrison, Colo., is hitting .366 with 11 homers and 84 RBIs entering the College World Series, after batting .368 with one homer and five RBIs during Nebraska?s run through the Big 12 Tournament bracket.
Junior closer Thom Ott captured first-team All-Big 12 honors as a relief pitcher, as the 6-2, 195, Milton, Fla., native posted a school record 11 saves to go along with his 5-2 record and 4.09 ERA.
Sophomore centerfielder Jeff Leise (.387) earned first-team all-conference mention from the Dallas Morning News but had to settle for second-team honors from the league coaches. Junior catcher Jed Morris (.346) also claimed second-team All-Big 12 honors, while junior outfielder Adam Stern (.297) earned second-team all-league mention from the Dallas Morning News and honorable-mention accolades from the coaches. Junior third baseman Jeff Blevins (.321) also claimed honorable-mention recognition from the league.
Nebraska?s Pitching Rotation
Shane Komine (Jr., RHP, Honolulu, Hawaii., 14-1, 3.27 ERA)
All-American Shane Komine (14-1, 3.27 ERA) will be gunning for his school-record 15th straight victory as he makes his team-high and school-record 18th start of the season Friday. If Komine wins, he would increase his school record for career victories to 32. Komine, a right-hander from Honolulu, Hawaii, led the Big 12 in strikeouts with 148 and wins (14) and is second in complete games (6). The 2000 Big 12 Player of the Year and 2001 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Komine is the first two-time All-American in Nebraska?s 112-year history. In his last outing in the first game of the NCAA Super Regional June 1, Komine pitched one of the best games of his career with a complete-game shutout of Rice to lead the Huskers to a 7-0 win. He tied a season high with 12 strikeouts and scattered three hits in a nearly flawless performance. He increased his season strikeout total to 148, which trails only his school record 159 Ks last season. On the year, the 5-10, 175-pound junior has a 4.2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, walking only 35 hitters in 123.2 innings. Opponents are hitting just .252 against Komine this season. Nebraska?s all-time career strikeout leader with 386, Komine also holds NU?s school record with 326.1 innings pitched and the school record in career wins with 31, while ranking second with 45 starts. Komine is 3-1 all time in NCAA Tournament play, with a 2-0 mark in regional competition, and a 1-1 record in Super Regional play. Last year, Komine took the loss in game two of Nebraska?s super regional series at Stanford, allowing five runs, just three earned, in seven innings after suffering a broken jaw in a regional win at Minnesota. Komine, who was drafted in the 19th round by the St. Louis Cardinals, was 16-0 in his career at Buck Beltzer Stadium.
R.D. Spiehs (Jr., RHP, Grand Island, Neb., 8-3, 4.86 ERA)
One of Nebraska?s top clutch performers, R.D. Spiehs (8-3, 5.24 ERA) did not pitch in Nebraska?s NCAA Super Regional sweep of Rice. Spiehs was originally scheduled to start game two, but was replaced in the rotation by Brian Rodaway, so Spiehs would be available in relief in game two or as a game three starter.
Spiehs is the top postseason pitcher in school history, owning a perfect 3-0 record and a 1.02 ERA in NCAA Tournament play, including Nebraska?s 2000 NCAA Super Regional win over Stanford. Last season in the first game at Stanford, Spiehs allowed two runs in 6.2 innings of quality relief to give the Huskers a 1-0 lead in the three-game series against the Cardinal. He scattered six hits, walked two and struck out three to pick up the first super regional win in school history. Spiehs collected his first NCAA Tournament win as a freshman in 1999, pitching 5.2 innings of scoreless work against Bowling Green in Nebraska?s first NCAA Tournament victory in 14 years. Spiehs added a third NCAA win with 5.1 innings of scoreless relief in Nebraska?s 5-4 semifinal win over Rutgers May 26. In his NCAA Tournament career, Spiehs has allowed two runs in 17.2 innings.
Along with his prolific performances in NCAA Tournament play, Spiehs owns a 4-1 record in Big 12 Tournament action in his three-year career at Nebraska. Spiehs led the Huskers with a 2-0 record including a championship game victory over Texas A&M at the 2001 Big 12 Tournament. The 6-3, 215-pound junior right-hander from Grand Island, Neb., earned his first win after no-hitting Iowa State over four innings in relief of Rodrigue on May 16. Against the Aggies in the championship game, Spiehs allowed four earned runs over 6.1 innings, while striking out a career-high 11 Aggie hitters.
Spiehs has started nine games this season and struck out 75, while walking just 19 in 74.0 innings for a 3.9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Opponents are hitting just .285 against him, but he has given up a team-high seven home runs and a team-high two triples this season. Along with nine starts, Spiehs has made 11 appearances out of the bullpen. Spiehs? 20 appearances, eight wins and 75 strikeouts trail only All-American Shane Komine on the Husker staff, while his 74 innings pitched rank third. NU is 9-0 in Spiehs? starts this season.
On the Nebraska career charts, Spiehs? 21 career victories ranks fifth, trailing only Komine (31, 1999-2001), Jeff Anderson (30, 1981-84), Mike Zajeski (24, 1988-92) and Cliff Faust (22, 1977-80). His 62 career appearances rank seventh, while his 199.2 innings pitched are tied for 10th. With 162 career strikeouts, he needs just eight more strikeouts to crack Nebraska?s all-time top-10 list.
Brian Rodaway (Sr., LHP, Lincoln, Neb., 4-2, 5.71 ERA)
Senior Brian Rodaway (4-2, 5.71 ERA) filled the role of Nebraska?s No. 3 starter during the latter half of the conference season. In his last start at the NCAA Super Regional, Rodaway allowed three runs, all earned, in just 1.1 innings against Rice in his shortest outing as a starter this seaston. In his last four starts, he has allowed 21 earned runs in 17 innings. In NCAA Tournament play, he has allowed 10 earned runs in just 5.1 innings. Against Rutgers in the NCAA Regional title game on May 27, Rodaway surrendered seven runs on seven hits and tied a career high with four walks. Despite his rocky starts in NCAA play, the Huskers won both games.
Rodaway?s NCAA performances followed one of the best performances of his career at the Big 12 Tournament, where he pitched a career-high 7.2 innings, after facing the minimum number of Oklahoma State hitters through 5.1 innings en route to a 10-5 win to put the Huskers in the championship game. Rodaway scattered eight hits and five earned runs after Nebraska built a 10-0 lead over the Cowboys and held on for the victory. On the year, the left-hander from Lincoln owns 10 starts in 17 appearances, seeing action in middle and short relief for the first two months of the season before earning a spot in the weekend rotation against Oklahoma on April 1. Since moving to the starting role, Rodaway has walked just six batters in 47.2 innings of work, while striking out 25 in the same span.
Jamie Rodrigue (So., LHP, St. Clair, Mo., 6-3, 6.03 ERA)
Jamie Rodrigue (6-3, 6.03 ERA) did not get the win in Nebraska?s College World Series clinching win over Rice, but the sophomore left-hander put the Huskers in position to win by tossing 6.2 innings of glittering relief of Brian Rodaway on June 2. Rodrigue entered the game with one out in the second and allowed just one earned run while scattering five hits and striking out seven to keep Rice within striking distance for the Husker offense. After Nebraska took a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth, Rodrigue left the game in position to win, giving way to Husker closer Thom Ott. But Ott gave up a leadoff homer to A.J. Porfirio to tie the game, 6-6, as Rodrigue settled for a no-decision. Rodrigue, a 6-2, 205-pound sophomore from St. Clair, Mo., also got a no-decision in Nebraska?s 5-4 win over Rutgers in the semifinal of the NCAA Regional Tournament on May 26. Rodrigue lasted just a third of inning, allowing three earned runs on four hits with two walks, before being relieved by R.D. Spiehs. Rodrigue owns two complete games in his 15 starts, and has lasted 77.2 innings on the season to rank second on the staff behind Shane Komine. Rodrigue has struck out 66 and walked just 20 for a 3.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Opponents are hitting .327 against him with five homers, one triple and 19 doubles among the 106 hits allowed. Last season, Rodrigue burst onto the collegiate scene with a 9-4 record and a 2.64 ERA as a true freshman. He also tossed four complete-game shutouts to set a Nebraska single-season record. Rodrigue is 1-1 all time in NCAA Tournament play, including an 0-1 mark in super regional competition. In 2000, Rodrigue took the loss in the super regional finale, allowing three runs, two earned, in 3.1 innings with two strikeouts and one walk. His lone win came against Wichita State, going 8.1 innings in the NCAA Regional title game win over Wichita State (8-1).
Historic Husker Season Culminates at College World Series
Starting with the first top-10 preseason rankings in school history, the Nebraska baseball team has made the 2001 campaign the most memorable in school history. The following is an abbreviated version of the season highlights to date. Selling nearly 1,150 season tickets for the final season at Buck Beltzer Stadium, nearly doubling the previous single-season record set in 1983...winning 13 games in a row, including the first sweep of Texas Tech in Lubbock by a conference school in 11 years...Dan Johnson?s school and conference record three-homer performance in an 18-6 win over Southern Utah...scoring four runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to cap a doubleheader sweep of Southern Utah...watching more than 1,300 fans brave near-freezing temperatures to see NU win its home opener over Kansas State...Shane Komine passing Mike Zajeski to become NU?s career strikeout leader...sweeping Oklahoma in Norman in a three-game series for the first time since 1962...overcoming a 9-8 ninth-inning deficit to defeat Texas 10-8 in 10 innings on Adam Stern?s walk-off home run....John Cole?s three-run eighth-inning homer off Albert Montes in NU?s 5-4 win over the 18th-ranked Longhorns...drawing more than 9,000 fans, including a then-Buck Beltzer Stadium single-game record of 4,029, to help the Huskers sweep Baylor in the first meeting of top-10 teams in Lincoln...receiving the first No. 1 ranking in school history on April 23rd - NU?s highest previous ranking was second in Baseball America during the 1983 season...winning in College Station for the first time in eight tries, a 6-4 NU victory on April 27...Dan Johnson?s 10th inning homer which capped a five-run Husker comeback...sweeping Oklahoma State for the first time since 1975...winning the season series with Creighton, 2-1, with an 8-4 six-inning victory over Creighton in front of 13,682 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha...capturing Nebraska?s first regular-season conference baseball title since 1950 with a 16-8 victory over Iowa State on May 11...winning an unprecedented third consecutive Big 12 Tournament title to become the first team in Big 12 history to win both the regular-season and tournament titles in the same season...Shane Komine setting a Big 12 Tournament record with 12 strikeouts against Oklahoma State...Dan Johnson earning MVP honors at the Big 12 Tournament after setting tournament records with five home runs and 13 RBIs while hitting .562...six Huskers earning first-team All-Big 12 honors, including Shane Komine, Dan Johnson, John Cole, Matt Hopper, Jeff Leise and Thom Ott...four Huskers earning Big 12 All-Tournament honors, including Shane Komine, Dan Johnson, John Cole and Matt Hopper...Coach Dave Van Horn earning Big 12 Coach-of-the-Year honors...spending 13 consecutive weeks in Baseball America?s top 10, the longest streak in school history...earning its first national top-eight seed in the NCAA Tournament...hosting its first NCAA Regional Tournament...scoring six runs in the top of the ninth to rally from five runs down to win its second straight NCAA Regional championship...four Huskers earning NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors, including Jeff Leise (MVP), John Cole, Matt Hopper and R.D. Spiehs...drawing 18,028 fans in six games of NCAA Regional play at Buck Beltzer Stadium including the then-top three crowds in Nebraska history, 4,936 (Game 3), 4,683 (Game 6) and 4,604 (Game 1)...Shane Komine becoming Nebraska?s first two-time first-team All-American...Dan Johnson earning second-team All-America honors...John Cole earning third-team All-America honors...hosting the first NCAA Super Regional Tournament in school history in the final baseball games played at Buck Beltzer Stadium...winning the first NCAA Super Regional title in school history to advance to the school?s first College World Series...drawing the top two crowds in school history with 5,484 fans at the super regional title game on June 2, and 5,353 fans in the first super regional game on June 1...drawing more then 25,000 fans in five home NCAA Tournament games, which surpassed the previous school single-season record attendance total...attracting more than 72,000 fans at Buck Beltzer Stadium in 27 games this season, for an average attendance of 2,681, a more than 200 percent increase over the previous school record...posting the school?s second straight 50-win season...two players earning Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors (John Cole, first team and Jeff Leise, second team).
Husker Baseball Success Continues Trend
The baseball team?s drive to its first College World Series, its first No. 1 national ranking in April, and Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament titles continues an outstanding year for University of Nebraska sports. Already this season, the Huskers have won two national titles, as the volleyball team capped a perfect 34-0 record with the program?s second national championship, while the Husker women?s bowling team won its second Intercollegiate Bowling Championship in three seasons on April 21. The Huskers? top ranking marks the fourth different NU sport this season to earn the nation?s top spot, joining football, volleyball and bowling. In 2000-01, Nebraska has won Big 12 titles in volleyball, soccer (regular season and tournament), men?s and women?s indoor track, women?s gymnastics, softball (regular season) and baseball (regular season and tournament). The Huskers have won only four regular-season baseball titles (1929, 1948, 1950 and 2001) in school history.
Nebraska athletic teams have already produced seven top 10-national finishes in 2000-01, including volleyball (first), women?s bowling (first), women?s gymnastics (tie-fifth), women?s rifle (sixth), football (eighth), wrestling (eighth), and women?s soccer (ninth).
Nebraska Coach Dave Van Horn
Dave Van Horn has emerged as one of the nation?s top coaches in his four seasons at the University of Nebraska. Hired in January of 1998, Van Horn has guided Nebraska from the depths of the conference standings before his arrival (10th in 1997), to its best two seasons in the 112-year history. This season, the Huskers claimed the first College World Series berth in school history with its first NCAA Super Regional title and its second straight NCAA Regional crown. The Huskers? nine-game winning streak since the end of the Big 12 regular season has given Van Horn and the Huskers their second straight 50-win season -- the first two in school history. The Huskers also captured their first regular-season conference crown since 1950 with a 20-8 mark in Big 12 play. With a third consecutive Big 12 Tournament title, Nebraska also became the first team to win Big 12 regular-season and tournament titles in the same season, as Van Horn earned Big 12 Conference Coach-of-the-Year honors.
In 2000, Van Horn led Nebraska to a school-record 51 victories, its second straight Big 12 Tournament title and its first NCAA Regional title before falling one game shy of the College World Series. The Huskers finished with a 51-17 overall record and a second-place finish in the Big 12 regular-season race.
Van Horn has led Nebraska to three straight NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history and owns a 10-4 NCAA mark at Nebraska. He has also posted a 13-1 mark in three years of Big 12 Tournament play, including nine straight wins in Oklahoma City. Nebraska?s 2000 regular-season conference title marks just the second time since 1982 that a Big 12 North Division team has won a Big Eight/Big 12 crown, joining Missouri?s Big Eight title in 1996.
Despite being hired just 35 days before the 1998 season, Van Horn led NU to a 24-20 finish and a seventh-place Big 12 finish in his inaugural season. Since then, he has guided the Huskers to three consecutive NCAA appearances, the first time the feat has been accomplished at Nebraska. The Huskers not only qualified for the Big 12 Tournament in 1999, but won the tournament championship, marking the school?s first conference title of any kind since 1950. Nebraska finished with a 42-18 record, and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 14 seasons. Earlier this season, Van Horn picked up his 500th collegiate victory in the Huskers? 9-6 win over Kansas State on March 9. Van Horn put the Huskers back on the college map last season, leading the Huskers to their first super regional and within one win of the College World Series. Nebraska finished with a 21-9 mark and a second-place regular-season finish in the Big 12, its best regular-season league finish since 1982. Van Horn then did the improbable, leading the Huskers through the losers? bracket to a second straight Big 12 Tournament title.
Over the last three seasons, Van Horn and Nebraska own a 57-26 (.687) record in regular-season Big 12 action and a 13-1 record in Big 12 Tournament play for an overall winning percentage of .722 against conference foes in regular and postseason play.
In his 13th season as a head coach, Van Horn has a career record of 536-217 (.712) including a record of 165-69 (.705) in his fourth season at Nebraska. He coached three seasons at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La. (1995-97), compiling a 106-65 (.620) record. Before coaching for the Demons, he led Central Missouri State to a 51-11 record and the NCAA Division II national title in 1994, his only year at the school. Before becoming a head coach, Van Horn was an assistant coach for three seasons at Arkansas, helping the Razorbacks to two College World Series appearances (1985 and 1987). On the field, he was just as impressive, earning All-Southwest Conference honors as an infielder for the Razorbacks. He was the team?s MVP and was drafted in the 10th round of the 1982 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, spending three seasons in the organization.
Husker Offense Puts Up Staggering Numbers
While the phrase ?scoring explosion? was first popularized by the 1983 Husker football team - one of the highest scoring teams in NCAA football history - the Husker baseball squad is on its way to reinventing the phrase by producing eye-popping numbers of its own in 2001.
With five everyday starters returning from last season?s team that led the Big 12 in hitting, runs scored and home runs, it is no surprise that the Huskers have been so explosive this season. The Huskers? .337 team average is the best in the Big 12 this season and 12 points higher than last season?s .325 average. In fact, the mark is two points behind the school record .339 average in 1985. The Huskers lead the conference in hitting, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. In the NCAA rankings released June 4, NU ranks eighth in average (.337) and ninth in runs per game (9.34), while scoring 10 or more runs in 28-of-64 contests.
Nebraska has shown the ability to score runs in bunches, totaling four or more runs in an inning 57 times over the first 64 games, and at least once in 37 contests (58 percent). The Huskers are adept in scoring runs in a variety of ways, as NU leads the Big 12 in sacrifice flies (32), stolen bases (124-of-137) and homers (76) while also ranking third with 48 sacrifices. While the Huskers have enjoyed the luxury of big innings, NU pitchers have been stingy in the same category, allowing four or more runs in an inning just 17 times all season and none since May 5.
Husker Runners: Men of Steal
With one of the fastest lineups in all of college baseball, almost every Husker is a threat on the basepaths. Nebraska enters the College World Series lead the Big 12 with 124 steals in 137 attempts (90.5 percent), trailing only Texas Tech?s 117-of-147 (79.6 percent). The Huskers were 9-for-10 against Rice in two NCAA Super Regional games after going a perfect 10-for-10 during NCAA Regional play and 8-for-8 during the Big 12 Tournament.
The Huskers had stolen 33 consecutive bases from May 5 against Oklahoma State to June 1 against Rice, before Justin Seely was thrown out against the Owls.
In all, 12 of NU?s 14 position players have at least two steals, led by John Cole?s 28-of-30, Adam Stern?s 27-of-31 and Jeff Leise?s perfect 17-for-17 effort on the base paths. Cole has been perfect in his last 21 attempts, while Leise is a perfect 18-for-18 in his career at Nebraska.
The Comeback Kids
One hallmark of a Dave Van Horn team has been the ability to overcome deficits late in games. This season, the Huskers have pulled 15 such comebacks from the seventh inning on and are 13-2 after such comebacks. During the postseason, the Huskers have used a pair of ninth-inning rallies to pull out victories. Against Rutgers in the regional title game, the Huskers were down by two runs and down to their final strike before Jed Morris? two-run double ignited a six-run rally in NU?s 14-10 victory. Last Saturday against Rice All-American Kenny Baugh, the Huskers were down 5-3 entering the ninth, but scored three runs in the ninth and added three more in the 10th to clinch NU?s first College World Series berth. From the seventh inning on, NU has outscored its opponents 191-86.
Opponent (Date) Deficit Inn. Final Comeback
@ Texas Tech (3/3) 4-2 7th W, 8-7 3-run HR by Johnson capped a five-run 7th
@ Texas Tech (3/4) 7-4 8th W, 10-8 Tallied five in 8th on Hopper?s 2-run single to tie; Jones SF and Blevins RBI hit capped rally
@ So. Utah-2 (3/6) 9-8 9th W, 12-9 W/ two outs, 3 walks loaded bases; scored tying run on wild pitch; Bolt 3-run HR capped outburst
@ Centenary (3/16) 7-5 8th L, 8-9 (10) Scored single runs in the 8th and 9th to tie; took 8-7 lead in 10th, but could not hold on
Texas-1 (4/7) 8-7 9th W, 10-8 (10) Cole led off 9th with solo homer; Stern ended game with 2-run HR in the bottom of 10th
Texas-2 (4/7) 4-1 8th W, 5-4 Scored four runs in 8th on Stern?s RBI single;Cole gave NU lead for good with 3-run HR
Baylor (4/15) 4-3 8th W, 10-4 Seven straight hitters reached base, including Hopper grand slam - his first homer in month
Creighton (4/24) 8-4 9th L, 8-11 (10) Overcame 8-4 deficit on Seely?s grand slam in 9th; allowed 3-runs in 10th in loss to in-state rival
Okla. St.-2 (5/6) 8-3 7th W, 10-8 (11) Scored three in 7th and two in 9th to tie;won on Johnson walk-off HR in 11thh
N. Iowa (5/8) 5-3 7th W, 15-6 Exploded for 12 runs in the final two innings;
first 10 hitters reached base in the 7th
Rutgers (5/27) 10-8 9th W, 14-10 Scored six runs with two outs, including Morris
2-run double and two-run single by Leise
Rice (6/2) 5-3 9th W, 9-6 (10) Scored three runs in 9th with 2-run Stern single? scored three in 10th including 2-run single by Leise
Husker Pitching Improves in Postseason
One of the biggest reasons for the Huskers? postseason success has been the improvement of the Husker pitching staff. After ranking near the middle of the conference with a 4.55 ERA through the regular season, Nebraska?s staff has chipped away more than a run per game off its team ERA since the start of the Big 12 Tournament on May 16. Over the last nine contests, Husker pitchers are holding opposing hitters to a .239 average and have allowed just 19 extra-base hits in that span.
Huskers Look to Buck Big 12 Trend
With its first trip to Omaha, the Huskers have become the fourth different Big 12 team to earn a spot in Omaha since the league?s formation in 1996-97. In the league?s first three appearances, conference schools are a combined 0-6, as Oklahoma State and Texas A&M both went 0-2 in 1999, while Texas failed to win a game last season. In fact, the last win by a current Big 12 member was Oklahoma?s 13-5 win over Georgia Tech in the title game of the 1994 CWS.
Komine Earns Big 12 and National Honors Again in 2001
Shane Komine (pronounced co-ME-nay) is the first player in Nebraska baseball history to become a two-time first-team All-American after winning a school-record 14 consecutive games in 2001. A consensus first-team All-America selection in 2000, the Honolulu, Hawaii native was also chosen the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2000, marking only the second time a Husker had been chosen conference player of the year (also Darin Erstad in 1995).
Overall, the 5-10, 175-pound junior carries a 14-1 record and a 3.27 ERA with 148 strikeouts and just 35 walks in 123.2 innings pitched for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.2-to-1. For his performance, Komine earned a spot on the Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I All-American team, along with capturing All-Big 12 honors for the second straight season, and a spot on the Big 12 All-Tournament team after allowing just one run in eight innings of work in a 7-1 win over Oklahoma State on May 17. Over the last two seasons, Komine has fanned 307 hitters, while issuing just 66 free passes for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.7-to-1.
Komine sits on top of the Nebraska career charts in strikeouts (386), wins (31), innings pitched (326.1), while ranking second all time with 45 starts. His 14 wins this season are the most in school history, while his 148 strikeouts trail only his single-season school record total of 159 in 2000. His 123.2 innings pitched this season also ranks second only to his 124.2 innings last season.
Komine leads the Big 12 in wins (14), strikeouts (148) and 10.77 strikeouts per nine innings and is second in complete games (6).
In 2000, he set single-season school records in strikeouts (159) and innings pitched (124.2), while holding opposing hitters to a Big 12-low .200 average. In 17 starts, he allowed just 31 walks for an amazing 5.1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Komine, who ranked second nationally with 159 strikeouts (Cal State-Fullerton?s Adam Johnson finished with 166), shattered two-time All-American Troy Brohawn's school record of 123 strikeouts in 1993.
In 2001 Big 12 play, Komine, a two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week, was 8-0 with a 3.65 ERA in regular-season play, leading conference hurlers in wins and strikeouts (84), ranking second in complete games (five) and innings per appearance (7.40), as he has gone seven or more innnings in nine of 10 league starts.
Komine tossed his first complete-game shutout of the season with his 7-0 win over Rice on in the NCAA Super Regional opener on June. 1. He tied a season high with 12 strikeouts, while throwing a three-hitter for his sixth complete game of the season.
He struck out nine Aggies in NU?s 6-4 victory in College Station on April 27. With his nine-strikeout performance against Texas A&M, Komine became the first NU pitcher to record two 100-strikeout seasons.
Against Missouri on March 24, Komine threw his second complete game of the season, allowing four runs on seven hits in NU?s 14-4 victory. He struck out five Tigers, breaking Mike Zajeski?s school record of 289 set between 1988 and 1992.
Komine put together some of the best performances in school history as a sophomore, tying a school record with 17 strikeouts in a win over Kansas on April 8, only to follow it up with 16 strikeouts in a complete-game win over Missouri, one of nine double-figure strikeout performances during the 2000 campaign. Komine was named Collegiate Baseball's Louisville Slugger National Pitcher of the Week and the Phillips 66 Big 12 Pitcher of the Week. He was named national pitcher of the week twice and earned the conference pitcher-of-the-week award three times during the year, as he led the Big 12 with 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings in league games.
Big Dan is Big Man in Heart of Husker Lineup
Husker first baseman Dan Johnson made a serious bid for the Big 12 triple crown. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior from Coon Rapids, Minn., clubbed a Big 12 best 24 homers while knocking in 85 RBIs for the Huskers to go along with his .360 batting average. Johnson?s .748 slugging percentage leads the conference and his .509 on-base percentage and 62 walks also lead the league.
A seventh round pick (221st overall) of the Oakland A?s in the Major League Draft on June 5, Johnson earned first-team All-America honors from Baseball Weekly and second-team All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball. He also claimed Big 12 Tournament MVP honors after a titantic performance in Oklahoma City, where he set the tournament record with five homers and 13 RBIs in four games, while hitting a blistering .562. He picked up nine hits, including a double, in 16 official at-bats, while also drawing four walks for an on-base percentage of .650 and a slugging percentage of 1.562, earning national player-of-the-week honors from Collegiate Baseball.
Johnson, who was a first-team All-Big 12 Conference pick at first base, hit two home runs against Texas A&M (May 20) in the Big 12 title game after hitting a pair of homers in the second semifinal win over Oklahoma State (May 19). Johnson produced three more multi-homer games in April, hitting two each against Creighton (April 4), Texas (April 7) and UTSA (April 17). With six multi-homer games this season, Johnson owns 10 multi-homer games in his career.
Johnson, who tied a school and Big 12 record with three homers at Southern Utah on March 6, ranks third nationally with 24 homers heading into the College World Series. In all, 37 of his 80 hits this season have gone for extra bases. Johnson is in sole possession of second place on NU?s career homer chart with 45 and needs three more to tie Bobby Benjamin, who hit 48 in three seasons for the Huskers from 1988 to 1990.
Johnson?s career .789 slugging percentage leads the previous school and conference record of .782 by former NU All-American Marc Sagmoen (1992-93). After leading the conference in round trippers this season, Johnson became the first conference player (Big 12/Big Eight and SWC) to lead the league in homers in consecutive years since former NCAA Player of the Year Pete Incaviglia of Oklahoma State in 1984-85.
Johnson has been selected as one of seven finalists for the Dick Howser Award, presented to the nation?s top collegiate player, selected by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in conjunction with the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Chamber of Commerce. The only first baseman on the list, Johnson is the only Big 12 player to make the final list. The 2001 season marks the third straight year a Husker has made the semifinalist list for this honor, joining Husker All-Americans Ken Harvey (1999) and Shane Komine (2000).
Cole Ignites Husker Offense
After being limited most of last season because of nagging injuries, junior third-team All-American and first-team Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-American John Cole has returned to the level that made him one of the nation?s top freshmen two seasons ago. Cole?s .417 batting average, 96 hits and 28 stolen bases lead the Huskers. His outstanding junior season helped him become a fifth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners (159th overall pick) in the Major League Draft on June 5.
The Ottawa, Ontario, native leads the Huskers and ranks second in the Big 12 with a .417 average and also ranks in the top 10 in the league in hits (96, third), stolen bases (28, third), triples (four, seventh), on-base percentage (.465, fifth) and slugging percentage (.635). He had a career-high and team season-high 20-game hitting streak snapped against Iowa State in the first game of the Big 12 Tournament on May 16, but still hit .529 during the tournament with nine hits, four walks and a tournament record six stolen bases. Cole?s streak was the fifth-longest in NU history. Cole has been successful in his last 21 stolen bases, including 9-for-9 in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments combined. He was a first-team All-Big 12 pick and earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Tournament team, while claiming third-team All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.
Cole was 9-for-17 during the Big 12 Tournament, after closing the regular season with a 6-for-13 performance in NU?s three-game series at Iowa State. He went 7-for-15 with two homers, five RBIs and seven runs scored to earn a spot on the NCAA Regional at Lincoln All-Tournament team and Baseball America?s All-Regional team around the nation. Over the last 12 games, Cole is hitting .464 (26-for-56), including .417 (10-for-24) in NCAA Tournament play. He went 7-for-13 with two homers and seven RBIs in the sweep of Oklahoma State, May 5-6. Against No. 18 Texas on April 7, Cole hit two homers in a doubleheader sweep, a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth in the opener to send the game into extra innings, and a three-run homer off UT ace Albert Montes to give the NU a 5-4 victory. He also tied his season high with a pair of four-hit performances against No. 8 Baylor (April 15) and UTSA (April 18).
Ott Closes the Book on Nebraska Career Saves Record
While Shane Komine anchors the Huskers? starting rotation, Nebraska also has one of the nation?s top closers in junior right-hander Thom Ott. A starter at James Madison as a freshman, Ott has made the effortless conversion to the NU bullpen, where he has made the climb up NU?s single-season and career saves chart. In 28 relief appearances, Ott, who also made a pair of starts in non-conference play, is 5-2 with a school single-season record 11 saves and a 4.09 ERA. With his 11th save in the Huskers? 5-4 NCAA Regional semifinal win over Rutgers, Ott took over sole possession of first on NU?s single-season saves chart, passing Mike Bellows? 10 saves in 1994. Ott also owns the Husker career mark with 17 saves in his two years at Nebraska.
Ott?s nastiness on the hill helped him get drafted in the 10th round of the Major League Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers (310th overall pick) on June 5.
Against Big 12 opponents, Ott was 4-1 with 10 saves in 17 appearances out of the bullpen after pitching four shutout innings in three appearances at the Big 12 Tournament. Ott struck out five and allowed just two hits for a perfect 0.00 ERA in Big 12 Tournament play. Ott?s efforts on the field helped him earn first-team All-Big 12 honors as a relief pitcher this season.
Ott pitched 3.2 innings and allowed one earned run, while striking out four and allowing just one hit during Nebraska?s 3-0 run through the NCAA Regional Tournament. He posted a 2.45 ERA in two appearances, and walked two batters, while opponents hit just .083 against him. In the NCAA Super Regional, Ott picked up the win in relief in the final game, after blowing a save opportunity in the ninth. In two innings, he scattered three hits, including A.J. Porfirio?s solo homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth. He was the beneficiary of Nebraska?s three-run 10th inning to pick up his fifth win.
In 2001 postseason play (Big 12 and NCAA tournaments), Ott has allowed just two run in 9.2 innings of work with one win, three saves and a 1.86 ERA. He has struck out 10 and walked two.
Huskers Make the Grade in the Classroom
As impressive as the Huskers? turnaround is on the diamond, the strides the NU baseball team has made in the classroom are equally striking. During the athletic department?s annual academic recognition banquet on April 21, the Huskers, with a team GPA of 2.90 over the last two semesters, were one of four team finalists for the Hermann Award, presented to the men?s and women?s teams with the highest cumulative GPA over the previous two semesters. This marked the first time in the award?s six-year history that the baseball team was a finalist for this prestigious award.
Under Coach Dave Van Horn, Nebraska has had at least one first-team academic all-district honoree in each of the past four seasons, including first-team Academic All-Americans Erik Mumm (1999) and John Cole (2001) and second-team selections Matt Schuldt (1998) and Jeff Leise (2001). Prior to Van Horn?s arrival, Nebraska, which leads the nation in 180 Academic All-Americans (covering all sports) had never had a first-team academic All-American. Cole carries a 3.65 grade-point average in business administration and was a first-team All-District VII selection in 2000, while Leise is a sophomore who carries a 3.95 GPA in psychology.
The academic all-district selections follow on the footsteps of the Academic All-Big 12 team released last month. A league-best five Huskers were selected to the first team, including the starting outfield of Cole, Leise and Adam Stern. Joining the trio were junior starter Shane Komine and senior reliever Brandon Penas, as NU and Baylor were the only teams with at least first-team selections. In addition, junior reliever Thom Ott and starting pitcher Jamie Rodrigue were chosen to the second team, as Huskers comprised nearly 20 percent of the players selected.
Tools of the Trade
In a poll of the Big 12 Conference coaches for the college preseason issue of Baseball America, four Huskers were recognized as the best in the conference in their respective categories. Junior right-hander Shane Komine was tabbed as having the best fastball and the best control among Big 12 hurlers, while Matt Hopper was picked as the player with the most raw power. Two other Huskers, second baseman Will Bolt and outfielder Adam Stern, were selected as the best defensive players at their respective positions.
Husker Diamond Notes
- Although the 2001 season marked the first time Nebraska has served as an NCAA Regional and Super Regional host, Buck Beltzer Stadium has hosted a previous NCAA Playoff contest. On May 30, 1950, NU played Bradley at the Husker Diamond (located where Buck Beltzer Stadium stands today) in the first game of a doublheader, where Bradley downed the Huskers 10-6. The Braves completed the sweep later that evening, earning a trip to the College World Series with a 8-4 victory at Sherman Field in Lincoln.
- Nebraska has not been shut out at home in a game since May 3, 1998, an 8-0 loss at Texas. NU has scored a run in 193 straight games. The Huskers have not been shut out at home since May 15, 1994, a 2-0 loss to Iowa State.
- Despite threatening skies and a lightning storm that ended the game in the seventh inning, the crowd of 13,862 that witnessed the Nebraska-Creighton game in Rosenblatt Stadium was the largest regular-season crowd in college baseball this season. In fact, the contest between the state?s two Division I programs also outdrew a pair of major league games that took place that evening. The previous high in collegiate baseball came on Feb. 2, when Texas and Rice played in front of 11,227 at Houston?s Enron Field.
- NU vs. Creighton (Rosenblatt Stadium) 13,862
- Anaheim at Chicago (AL) 13,458
- Baltimore at Tampa Bay 11,108
- Nebraska features two second-generation Huskers in shortstop Brandon Eymann and right-hander R.D. Spiehs. Both sons are significant contributors to the Huskers? top-five national ranking. Eymann, a junior who is hitting .300 in 42 games in his first year in the NU program, is the son of Kirk Eymann, who played for the Huskers in the mid-1970s. The elder Eymann was a standout hurler in the NU program, as he still holds two of the top single-season ERAs in school history (1.75 in 1977 and 2.15 in 1976). Spiehs, who is 8-3 in 20 appearances this season and ranks fifth in school history with 21 wins, is the son of Randall, was a starting catcher for the Huskers (1969-71).
- In addition to those two, senior tri-captain Josh Hesse?s older brother Chris played for the Huskers in 1994.
- With its five wins during the postseason, Nebraska is 22-3 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.
- Nebraska opened the season by playing 20 of its first 21 games away from home. In those games, NU went 16-5, highlighted by a 13-game winning streak. The Huskers traveled 6,589 miles before playing their first home game on March 9.
- Notable Nebraska baseball alumni include current NU Head Football Coach Frank Solich, who lettered in baseball in 1964, batting .222 in 17 games, and assistant coach Turner Gill, who hit .284 with two homers and 30 RBIs in 1983 before signing with the Cleveland Indians organization.
- Nebraska finished the season as the only team in the Big 12 with more walks than strikeouts. Through 64 games, Husker hitters have drawn 358 walks, compared to only 331 strikeouts.
- With one more home run, Dan Johnson would top the entire 2001 totals of two Big 12 teams. Johnson, who became the first player to qualify for the Home Run Challenge, but will not compete since his team reached the CWS, led the Big 12 with a school-record 24 homers.
Iowa State - 25 homers
Dan Johnson - 24 homers
Kansas - 22 homers
- Nebraska is 7-1 over the past two seasons when Matt Hopper and Dan Johnson homer in the same game. The only time NU has lost was an 11-8, 10-inning loss to Creighton on April 24.
- The 278 hits by the trio of John Cole (96), Jeff Leise (92) and Matt Hopper (90) are the most by an NU trio since Paul Meyers (100), Mark Kister (93) amd Mike Duncan (92) combined for 285 hits in 1985
- Nebraska, Miami and USC are the only three teams to go 5-0 in regional and super regional play. In addition, NU is the only one of the three to play in a conference tournament, where the Huskers went 4-0 en route to their third straight Big 12 Tournament title.
- Nebraska and Tulane are making their first College World Series appearances.
- Nebraska has won five straight games against teams ranked in the top-10 of at least one poll. Overall, NU is 5-2 against top-10 teams this season.
- Nebraska is 5-1 against teams from Louisiana this season with the lone loss coming in a 9-8, 10-inning loss to Centenary, snapping a 13-game winning streak.
- The Cal State-Fullerton and Nebraska baseball media guides recently finished first and second, respectively in judging for the best guide in the nation for 2001.