Huskers Head to Minneapolis for Three-Game Series
Friday, April 11 – 3:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: RHP Sinclair (5-1) vs. Crawford (3-1
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (Big Ten Digital Network, premium)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Saturday, April 12 –2:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: RHP DeLeon (3-2) vs. LHP Jess (0-5)
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (Gopher All-Access, premium)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Sunday, April 13 – 2:05 p.m.
Probable Starters: LHP Bummer (4-2) vs. RHP Meyer (2-2)
Stream: Free Radio (Huskers.com) | Video Stream (BTN2Go)
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Up Next for the Huskers
After splitting a midweek games at Creighton (W, 4-2) and at home against Kansas State (L, 10-6), the Nebraska baseball team (20-14, 4-2 Big Ten) returns to Big Ten Play this weekend with three game series in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-11, 5-4 Big Ten).
The Huskers are in search of their second straight Big Ten series win after sweeping the Ohio State Buckeyes last weekend in Lincoln, while the Gophers are coming off a 2-1 series win at Michigan.
Nebraska enters the weekend fourth in the Big Ten standing with a 4-2 record and Minnesota is one spot behind at 5-4 on the year in conference play.
Fans will see a minor tweak in the Huskers’ weekend rotation, as Chance Sinclair and Christian DeLeon are flipping spots, with Sinclair getting his first Friday start of the season.
Sinclair is coming off his first career complete game at Nebraska and has gone 7.0 or more innings in each of his last three starts. Now 5-1 on the year, Sinclair entered the week ranked 22nd in the country and leads the Big Ten with a 1.05 ERA, while also ranking fifth in the league with 51.1 innings on the mound.
DeLeon is scheduled to make his 23rd career start on Saturday and be looking to go at least 7.0 innings for the fifth straight time. DeLeon has thrown a Big Ten-high 57.0 innings over eight starts in 2014 and leads the Huskers with 31 strikeouts.
Aaron Bummer will look to win his third straight start on Sunday and is coming off back-to-back career outings. After throwing a then-career high 7.2 innings in a victory over UNLV on March 30, the junior threw his first complete last weekend in a five-hitter against Ohio State. Bummer allowed just one unearned run in the first inning, marking this first time all season he hadn’t given up and earned run.
Last season against Minnesota, Bummer threw 7.0 shutout innings, while allowing three hits.
The Huskers have seen their average drop to .295, but they still lead the Big Ten. Five NU regulars are hitting over .300, including Ben Miller (.339), Ryan Boldt (.319), Jake Placzek (.313), Austin Darby (.313) and Pat Kelly (.304).
Minnesota enters the weekend ranked 10th in the league with a .239 average and they are ninth in runs scored with 122 (4.4 per game).
On the Radio this Week
Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen to Lane Grindle and Ben McLaughlin call all of the action on the Husker Sports Network - including KLIN 1400 AM and 94.5 FM in Lincoln - and live on the Internet at Huskers.com or the Official Husker App.
TV Coverage this Week
Sunday’s game at Minnesota will be carried nationwide on the Big Ten Network.
Web Streams this Week
Friday’s game at Minnesota will be streamed on the Big Ten Digital Network (video.btn.com) and Saturday’s game will be Gopher All-Access (gophersports.com/allaccess). Subscription required.
The Gophers hold a slim 23-20-2 advantage in the all-time series between the two teams, but the Huskers have made up ground since going the Big Ten with a 7-1 record since 2012.
Dating back to 2006, the Huskers have won eight of the last nine meetings between the two teams.
Last season the Huskers took 2-of-3 in Minnesota and then knocked the Gophers out of the Big Ten Tournament at Target Field with a 7-4 win in an elimination game.
The Huskers and Gophers met for the first time on June 1, 1901, with Minnesota winning 5-3 in Lincoln. The Huskers picked up their first win in the series a year later on April 26 in Minneapolis, 4-0
Nebraska last swept the Gophers on the road in 1987, with a midweek doubleheader sweep, 18-1 and 7-3.
The Gophers last home sweep came in 1998, when the Huskers opened the season at the Metrodome and lost three straight; 6-3, 11-4 and 6-4.
Looking at Minnesota’s Weekend Rotation
RHP Alec Crawford - (Sr. | 6-2 | 210 | Wilton, Iowa)
Joined the Gophers in 2012 after spending two seasons at Des Moines Area Community College where he was a first-team NJCAA All-American.
Crawford is 3-1 in eight starts this season and ranks second on the team in both innings (48.2) and strikeouts (33). The 6-2 righty made nine starts in 10 total appearances a year ago, posting a 4-2 record and a 2.28 ERA.
One of his four wins last season came against the Huskers, and it is the Gophers only Big Ten win against Nebraska. He went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits and two walks, while striking out three.
LHP Jordan Jess - (So. | 6-2 | 210 | Ripon, Wis.)
Jordan Jess will be in search of his first win of the season when he takes the mound on Saturday, as he is 0-5 on the year in eight starts.
Jess made nine starts in 16 appearances during his two seasons at Minnesota, including four starts last year. He was injured early last season and received a medical redshirt.
The lefty from Ripon, Wis., enters the weekend with a 4.78 ERA, as he has allowed 23 runs (17 earned) on 31 hits in 32.0 innings of work. Jess has had problems finding the zone with 25 walks to 18 strikeouts on the year.
RHP Ben Meyer - (Jr. | 6-5 | 180 | New Brighton, Minn.)
Ben Meyer is set to take the mound on Saturday and the 6-5 righty has the best number on the staff with a 2.65 ERA, while also throwing a team-high 51.0 innings and striking out a team-best 36 batters.
In his 51.0 innings of work, Meyer has allowed 41 hits, while walking just 11, but has hit a team-high eight batters and has allowed a team-high three home runs.
Meyer has the staff’s lone complete game of the year, going 9.0 innings in a 2-1 win over Northwestern on March 23 in St. Charles, Mo.
Meyer saw relief action against the Huskers last season, throwing 1.2 innings in a 8-0 loss to NU on May 12. The junior gave up one runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out two Huskers.
Over the Past 10 Games for Nebraska
• Austin Darby led the team with nine hits
• Michael Pritchard notched eight of his 24 RBIs on the season
• The Huskers are 6-4, including a 2-1 road record
• Nebraska had three complete games. NU had one complete game in the first 146 games of the Darin Erstad era.
• In 89.0 total innings on the mound, NU’s starting pitchers accounted for 64.2 innings
• Nebraska pitchers totaled 54 strikeouts, while walking 18
• Husker batters struck out 50 times and walked 30 times
• Catcher Tanner Lubach allowed eight steals, but threw out seven runners
• Nebraska had only three doubles, while opponents notched seven
• Zach Hirsch threw 6.2 innings of scoreless relief over three appearances with seven strikeouts
• Nebraska hit just .233, while opponents hit .269
• Nebraska laid down 12 sacrifice bunts
Big Ten Bats
Nebraska’s has one of the best offenses in the Big Ten Conference. Through Wednesday, the Huskers rank first in six major categories, including:
Average (.295) - Iowa 2nd (.293)
Hits (344) - Iowa (306)
Runs (200) - Iowa 2nd (195)
RBIs (182) - Iowa 2nd (176)
Triples (16) - Ohio State 2nd (11)
Sac Bunts (31) - Penn State 2nd (28)
Go the Distance
Nebraska’s rotation of Christian DeLeon, Chance Sinclair and Aaron Bummer were workhorses in a three-game sweep of Ohio State last weekend, as all three pitchers tossed complete games.
No other staff in the country has thrown three 9.0-inning complete games in a weekend. Monmouth is the only other team that has come close with two 9.0-inning complete games along with a 7.0-inning complete game.
At least since 1999, the Huskers have never had three pitchers throw consecutive complete games. Due to incomplete records the last time the feat occurred has not been found yet.
Since 1999, the Huskers had thrown 9.0-inning complete games in back-to-back games on two occasions prior to the Ohio State series:
May 16-17, 2009 vs. Baylor
May 16 - Sean Yost (9.0 innings)
May 17 - Erik Bird (9.0 innings)
April 14-15, 2006 vs. Texas A&M
April 14 - Tony Watson (9.0 innings)
April 15 - Johnny Dorn (9.0 innings)
The closest the Huskers had come to throwing three consecutive games before last weekend was against Texas A&M in March of 2002. Shane Komine threw 8.0 of the Huskers’ 9.0 innings on Friday, before Jamie Rodrigue threw a 9.0-inning complete game on Saturday and Aaron Marsden threw an 8.0-inning complete game on Sunday. Sunday’s game was called after 8.0 innings due to the Big 12 mercy rule with the Huskers ahead 10-0.
Entering last Friday night’s game against Ohio State, the Huskers were a combined 5-56 under Darin Erstad when trailing after the seven inning, including 0-11 in 2014.
The Huskers went out and won on both Friday and Saturday, as they trailed 2-0 on Friday and 3-0 on Saturday after seven innings of play.
Nebraska added a third win on Tuesday night with a comeback win at Creighton. Nebraska was down 2-1 after seven innings before scoring three runs in the top of the eighth to win 4-2.
Nebraska fell to 3-12 in 2014 when trailing after seven on Wednesday night at Hawks Field when it lost to Kansas State 10-6, the Huskers trailed 7-5 after seven innings.
On the other side of the equation, the Huskers have been great at holding leads late in games.
Under Erstad the Huskers are 68-5 when leading after seven inning, including 14-1 in 2014.
Facing the Home State School
Pat Kelly is a native of Red Wing, Minn., and in his first two years at Nebraska he has enjoyed playing against the Gophers.
In eight career games, Kelly is 14-for-36 (.389) with three doubles, three home runs, nine runs scored and seven RBIs. He has a .722 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .405.
Rest the Pen
Since joining the Huskers last season, Christian DeLeon has made 22 starts for the Huskers.
The senior has gone at least 6.0 innings 19 times, at least 7.0 innings 12 times and 8.0 or more innings eight times.
DeLeon has gone 6.0 or more innings in his last seven starts this season, including 8.0 inning in three of his last four starts.
Like Your Chances with Sinclair
Junior Chance Sinclair has been a key addition to the Husker pitching staff in 2014 with his 5-1 record and a Big Ten leading 1.05 ERA.
A transfer from Neosho County CC, Sinclair has gone 6.0 or more innings in seven of his eight starts, including four 7.0-inning outings and a 9.0-inning complete game last weekend against Ohio State.
Over Sinclair’s last two starts he has thrown 16.0 innings with no walks and nine strikeouts.
Join the Club
Senior Michael Pritchard joined Nebraska’s 200-hit club on Friday, March 21, with a first inning single at Iowa.
Pritchard became the 21st player in school history to join the club and enters Tuesday ranked 19th in school history with 211 hits.
Junior Pat Kelly has a good shot at joining the list before the end of the season as well, as he enters Tuesday with 177 career hits. Last season Kelly totaled a team-high 85 hits on the year, and with 38 hits this season Kelly is on pace to join the list by the end of 2014.
Last season, Chad Christensen became the 20th 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.
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.
Matt Hopper 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.
NU 200-Career Hit Club
1. 338 Matt Hopper 2000-03
2. 305 Jeff Leise 2000-03
3. 281 Will Bolt 1999-02
4. 261 Darin Erstad 1993-95
5. 250 Paul Meyers 1984-86
6. 249 Joe Simokaitis 2002-05
7. 248 Jed Dalton 1992-95
8. 247 Chad Christensen 2010-13
9. 246 Darin Petersen 1992-95
10. 242 Mark Kister 1985-87
11. 240 Alex Gordon 2003-05
12. 238 DJ Belfonte 2007-10
13. 234 Todd Sears 1996-97
14. 231 Daniel Bruce 2002-05
15. 229 Ken Ramos 1987-89
16. 227 Jake Opitz 2005-08
17. 223 Curtis Ledbetter 2003-05
18. 222 John Cole 1999-01
19. 211 Michael Pritchard 2011-present
20. 203 Ken Harvey 1997-99
21. 201 Francis Collins 1995-97
Lean on Hirsch
Zach Hirsch has been one of Nebraska’s best arms out of the bullpen in 2014.
Following his 2.2 innings of scoreless, no-hit relief in NU’s 4-2 win at Creighton on Tuesday night, he is 3-0 on the year with two saves.
Over Hirsch’s last seven appearances, he has thrown 12.2 innings of shutout relief, with 10 hits, one walks and 16 strikeouts.
The one-time starter has made a team-high 16 appearances, all out of the pen, in 2014 and holds a 1.11 ERA, while holding opposing batters to a .179 average over 24.1 innings of work. He also ranks second on the team with 29 strikeouts.
Hirsch has 13 appearances where he has thrown at least an inning and hasn’t given up a run, and hasn’t given up a hit in five of those appearances.
The Huskers have produced double-digit hits 20 times this year in 34 games, including nine of their 16 home games.
Huskers in MLB
Seven former Huskers were on MLB rosters for Opening Day, with Cody Asche (Phillies) and Andrew Brown (Mets) both hitting home runs.
Michael Mariot became the 35 former Husker to reach the Majors when he was called up by the Kansas City Royals on April 7.
According to Baseball America, Nebraska is tied for fourth nationally with Cal, Miami and Stanford, all with eight former players in MLB.
Arizona State led the list with 11 players, while Long Beach State was second with 10 and North Carolina ranked third with nine players.
The Big Ten Conference ranked sixth with 15 players. Minnesota ranked second in the league with three players
Player Years at NU MLB Team
Cody Asche (2009-11) Philadelphia Phillies
Andrew Brown (2006-07) New York Mets
Joba Chamberlain (2005-06) Detroit Tigers
Brian Duensing (2002-05) Minnesota Twins
Alex Gordon (2003-05) Kansas City Royals
Dan Jennings (2006-08) Miami Marlins
Michael Mariot (2008-10) Kansas City Royals
Tony Watson (2003-05) Pittsburgh Pirates
Need for Speed
Nebraska has produced 16 triples on the year through 34 games entering Friday, which tops their 13 triples in 59 games last season.
The 16 triples are the most by a Husker squad since 2002 when NU totaled 20 triples.
Entering the week, the Huskers ranked sixth in the country with 15 triples. Arizona led the nation with 20 triples.
Seven Huskers have a triple on the season, including four from Michael Pritchard, as well as three each from Ryan Boldt and Austin Darby. Blake Headley has two triples, while Pat Kelly, Tanner Lubach, Austin Christensen and Quinn McGill each have one.
The single-season team record for triples is 38 by the 1980 squad, while Shawn Buchanan set the individual single-season record in 1990 with nine.
Three Huskers were tabbed in Baseball America’s top-10 prospects in the Big Ten for the 2014 MLB Draft, including junior left-handed pitcher Aaron Bummer (No. 4), junior outfielder Austin Darby (No. 7) and junior infielder Pat Kelly (No. 8).
The Huskers and Indiana Hoosiers were the only teams in the Big Ten with more than one player on the list, with three each.
Huskers Picked Second by League Coaches
The Big Ten coaches picked Nebraska to finish second out of the league’s 11 teams in 2014.
Indiana was picked as the league favorite by the coaches after winning both the regular-season and conference titles last year. The Hoosiers ended the season with a trip to the College World Series.
The Huskers have struck out 161 times this year, third lowest in the Big Ten, an average of 4.7 times per game, and the Husker have worked the fifth-most walks in the league at 119, an average of 3.5 per game.
Combined with their 16 HBP, the Huskers only have 26 more strikeouts to free passes; 161-135.
Leadoff hitter Austin Darby has a walk-to-strikeout ratio of 18-to-16 and an on-base percentage of .402.
The Huskers need to find a way to get off to a better start in their first at-bat of games. The Huskers have scored 12 runs in the first inning this season, their lowest total for any inning, while giving up 23 runs, the highest total they’ve given up in any inning.
The Huskers have responded though in the second, outscoring opponents 27-19.
In 34 games entering Friday, the Huskers have been retired in order 12 times in their first at-bat of a game.