|This Week in Nebraska Baseball March 16-22|
2010 Record (8-7, 0-0 Big 12)
Friday March 19 - No. 2 Texas (13-4) - 6:05 p.m.
Saturday March 20 - No. 2 Texas - 2:05 p.m.
Sunday March 21 - No. 2 Texas - 12:05 p.m.
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network and for free on the Internet at Huskers.com (affiliate list on page five of game notes)
Live Video: Huskers.com free video off Texas' site (Friday-Saturday)
Live Stats: Huskers.com
Television: Fox College Sports (Sunday) - TV Clearances
Probable Starting Pitchers
NU-Casey Hauptman, Jr., RHP (1-2, 1.96 ERA)
UT- Taylor Jungmann, So., RHP (2-0, 0.93 ERA)
NU-Michael Mariot, Jr., RHP (1-2, 4.68 ERA)
UT- Cole Green, Jr., RHP (4-0, 2.59 ERA)
NU-Tom Lemke, Fr., RHP (3-0, 2.95 ERA)
UT- Brandon Workman, Jr., RHP (2-1, 2.81 ERA)
This Weekend: The Nebraska baseball team opens Big 12 action this weekend, as the Huskers travel to Austin, Texas, for a three-game series at No. 2 Texas at UFCU-Disch Falk Field. Friday’s Big 12 opener is slated for 6:05 p.m. with afternoon starts on both Saturday (2:05 p.m.) and Sunday (12:05 p.m.). Sunday’s game is the first of eight televised games during the regular season, as the matchup between the Huskers and Longhorns will be carried on Fox College Sports (Ch. 617 on DirecTV; Ch. 302 on Time Warner in Lincoln).
Radio: Fans across Nebraska can listen to Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle call all of the action this weekend on the 29-station entire Husker Sports Network - including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln, KFAB 1110 AM in Omaha and KRVN 880 AM in Lexington - and on the Internet at Huskers.com.
Video: Friday and Saturday’s games will for free. Click on the link at the top of the page to go to Texas' website for free live video
Weekend Preview: The Huskers begin Big 12 action on a five-game win streak following a 12-6 win over South Dakota State Tuesday afternoon. DJ Belfonte belted two homers and scored a career-high four times, while Josh Scheffert drove in a career-high four runs, as Nebraska raced out to an 11-2 lead after five innings.
The Huskers have been swinging a hot bat as of late, hitting .341 in their last seven contests dating back to the final two games of the series with No. 14 UCLA and are now hitting .306 as a team on the season. The Huskers have also been solid in the field in that same stretch, committing just four errors in those last seven games (.986 fielding percentage). Second baseman Kale Kiser is hitting .424 on the season and enters Friday’s game riding a season-long nine-game hit streak, where he is hitting .500 (13-for-26) with 13 runs scored.
The Huskers will face their toughest test of the season in Austin this weekend. The Longhorns are 13-4 on the year following a 10-6 loss at No. 14 Rice on Tuesday in their first road game of the season. Texas, which is ranked as high as second in this week’s polls, leads the Big 12 with a 2.10 ERA while all three weekend starters have ERAs under 2.85. Tuesday’s loss snapped a six-game win streak for Texas, which had not allowed more than six runs in any of its first 16 contests.
3 Things to Watch this Week
1.53: ERA for Nebraska’s starting pitchers during the Huskers’ five-game win streak, as Husker starting pitching held its opponents to a .135 batting average in that stretch.
2: DJ Belfonte’s two homers on Tuesday against SDSU marked his first multi-homer game in 181 career contests. He is hitting .377 with 15 RBIs, after hitting just .228 with six RBIs in his first 15 games a year ago.
7: Nebraska will have played seven of its first 18 games against ranked opponents after this weekend, including three-game series at No. 2 Texas and now No. 7 UCLA.
Under legendary coach Augie Garrido, Texas enters the weekend ranked second in the country and brings a 13-4 record into Friday’s Big 12 opener. After dropping a series with New Mexico, Texas had won 12 of 13 games before dropping a 10-6 decision at No. 14 Rice Tuesday night.
Offensively the Longhorns are led by first baseman Tant Shepherd, who is hitting .318 with two homers and eight RBIs. He is the only regular above .300, but outfielder Kevin Keyes is hitting .297 with two homers and a team-best 12 RBIs, while second baseman Kordan Etier is hitting .263 with a team-best four homers and 11 RBIs.
The strength of the Texas team is a pitching staff that leads the Big 12 in ERA (2.10) and is holding hitters to a .219 batting average. Sophomore right-hander Taylor Jungmann anchors the staff, as he is 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts, striking out 34 and walking only eight over 29 innings of work. He is joined in the weekend rotation by junior right-handers Cole Green and Brandon Workman, as UT’s top three starters are a combined 8-1. The depth of pitching pitching allowed the Longhorns to move All-Big 12 performer Chance Ruffin to the bullpen, where is his 2-1 with five saves and a 0.54 ERA in 10 outings.
Nebraska leads the all-time series with Texas, 26-25, and is the only Big 12 school that has an all-time winning mark against the Longhorns. Texas has won the last four meetings in the series, including a sweep at Hawks Field last April. The Huskers have traditionally played well in Austin, winning four of the past five series at Texas dating back to 2000.
Last Time Out
Tuesday (Nebraska 12, South Dakota State 6): DJ Belfonte belted two of Nebraska’s three homers, as the Husker baseball team wrapped up a perfect homestand with an 11-6 victory over South Dakota State Tuesday afternoon. Belfonte continued his strong start, going 3-for-4 with a pair of homers, three RBIs and scored four times in helping Nebraska (8-7) to its fifth straight win. While Belfonte enjoyed a career afternoon at the top of the lineup, freshman Josh Scheffert came up with the game’s biggest hit, a three-run homer in the first off of SDSU starter Shane Kraemer, to help the Huskers jump out to a 4-0 lead after one inning. Scheffert drove in a career-high four runs, going 2-for-4, as Nebraska took an 11-2 lead after five innings and cruised to the win. Nebraska pounded out 14 hits, as Adam Bailey had two hits and two RBI, while Kale Kiser went 2-for-2 with two runs scored. The top four spots in the order went a combined 12-for-17 with 10 RBIs and eight runs scored. Sean Yost earned the victory, as he went 4.1 innings on a pre-determined pitch count to improve to 2-1 on the season. The right-hander struck out two and held the Jackrabbits (8-5) scoreless until the fifth.
-Nebraska has gotten off to fast starts, scoring first in 13 of its 15 games in 2010. NU has scored in the first inning in more than half of its games this season (8 of 15). Nebraska has won 75 percent of its games (203-67) in Mike Anderson’s eight seasons at Nebraska when scoring first.
-Nebraska has pitched well since the series opener at No. 14 UCLA, posting a 2.92 ERA over its last seven contests. More impressively, Husker hurlers have walked just 17 over the last 61.2 innings of work. The Huskers have allowed five runs or less in eight of their last 10 games dating back to Feb. 27.
-After playing their first 10 games away from home, the Huskers will enjoy the comforts of playing at Hawks Field through the month of March. The Huskers are in the middle of a stretch of playing 12 of 15 games at the ballpark, where they are 194-59-1 (.763) since 2002. The only trip the Huskers make the rest of the month is a three-game series at No. 2 Texas in Austin to open Big 12 play this weekend.
-Nebraska has enjoyed a power surge on its homestand, belting 10 homers in the last five games after hitting just four homers in its first 10 contests. Cody Asche hit three homers in the weekend series with Houston Baptist after hitting a pair of homers as a freshman. The weekend was highlighted by NU’s first three-homer innning since 2007. DJ Belfonte capped the homestand with his first two-homer game against South Dakota State on Tuesday.
-Kale Kiser brings a career-best nine-game hitting streak into Friday’s game at Texas. The sophomore is hitting .500 (13-for-26) with 13 runs scored in the hitting streak, as Nebraska is 8-4 in that stretch. Last year, Kiser’s longest hit streak was two games.
-NU has been aggressive on the basepaths with 21 stolen bases through the first 15 contests. Last year, NU had just 18 stolen base attempts - and 10 swipes - in its first 15 games.
-The Huskers have been proficient in two-out situations this season, recording 40 two-out RBIs this year. In fact, 49 of Nebraska’s 108 runs (45.3 percent) have been scored with two outs through the first 15 contests. Nebraska’s game against SDSU only the second time this year that NU did not score any runs with two outs. First baseman Tyler Farst leads the Huskers with eight two-out RBIs.
-Khiry Cooper has been on a tear as of late, hitting .407 (11-for-30) over NU’s last 11 contests. He also has four doubles in that stretch, equaling his entire total of exta-base hits as a freshman. Cooper, who also plays football for the Huskers, is NU’s first football/baseball athlete since Darin Erstad in 1995.
-Nebraska has tied or led heading to the eighth inning in 12 of 15 games this year, but has lost four games on an opponent’s last at-bat.
-While it is still early in the season, Nebraska’s defense has been much improved in 2010. The Huskers are second in the Big 12 with a .981 fielding percentage, and have made one error or less in 13 of 15 games. The fielding percentage is well ahead of the school record of .975 set in 2004 and 2005. That is an encouraging sign, as the Huskers are 220-80-1 (.732) when committing one or fewer errors under Mike Anderson.
-Michael Mariot’s one-hit shutout against Houston Baptist on March 13 was the first by a Nebraska pitcher since Zach Kroenke tossed a one-hitter at Kansas State on April 2, 2004. It also marked only the fifth time since 1999 that a Husker hurler tossed a one-hit, complete-game shutout.
-Nebraska’s 21 runs against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 26 marked only the second time the Huskers have scored 20 or more runs under Head Coach Mike Anderson and the first since scoring 22 runs against Kent State in 2004. NU’s top five single-game offensive outputs since 2003 are listed below.
-One emphasis of the Husker pitching staff has been to reduce walks, and Nebraska has done a good job of that in 2010. NU is averaging 3.06 walks per game after averaging 4.65 walks per game in 2009.
-Two of the Huskers’ three losses at Fresno State came after taking a lead into the ninth inning. It marked only the third and fourth times in 141 games dating back to 2005 that Nebraska had lost when heading into the ninth. The Huskers are now 247-6-1 (.974) when leading after eight innings under Mike Anderson.
-With his ninth-inning homer against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 26, Chad Christensen became the first Husker freshman to homer in his collegiate debut since Brian Kent accomplished the feat against Chicago State on March 16, 1999. Christensen, who now has two homers in his first 12 college at-bats, was just the fourth NU player since 1999 to homer in his Husker debut.
-Freshman Tom Lemke became just the fourth Husker freshman to earn a start during the opening week of the season since 1999, and the first to collect a win in that stretch.Here is how Lemke’s line against Fresno State compared to the other three freshman hurlers.
-Kyle Bubak’s five-hit day against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 26, marked just the sixth time a player has had at least five hits in a game under Mike Anderson, and the first since Jeff Tezak went 5-for-5 at Alabama in 2007.