Friday, Feb. 17 - 8 p.m.
(CT): So. Zach Hirsch (LHP)
vs. So. Marco Gonzales (LHP)
Saturday, Feb. 18 - 8 p.m.
(CT): So. Jon Keller (RHP) vs.
Sr. Tyler Olson (LHP)
Sunday, Feb. 19 - 1 p.m. (CT): Fr. Kyle Kubat (LHP) vs. Sr. Andy Hunter (RHP)
This Week: Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) opens the 2012 season in
Peoria, Ariz., with a three-game series against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0
WCC). All three games will take place at the Peoria Sports Complex, the Spring
Training home of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. Friday's game
starts the 2012 season for both teams at 8 p.m. (CT). The Huskers and Zags will
continue the set with another 8 p.m. game on Saturday, before concluding the
series on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at the Peoria Sports Complex box
office or by calling (623) 773-8700. All tickets are general admission and are
Television: There will be no TV or internet video of any of the three
On the Radio: Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen to
Greg Sharpe and Lane Grindle call all of the action on the Husker Sports
Network - including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln - and on the Internet at
Huskers.com or the Official Husker App. A complete list of HSN affiliates can
be found on page 7.
Preview: The Nebraska baseball team is starting with a clean slate
in 2012 as the Darin Erstad era begins at Haymarket Park. Along with a new
coaching staff and a roster that includes 14 new players, the Huskers will
enter their first season of Big Ten baseball after 15 successful seasons in the
Big 12 Conference that included three regular-season titles and four tournament
Another first will take
place on Friday when the Huskers meet the Gonzaga Bulldogs for the first ever
meeting between the two programs. The Zags are coming off 2011 campaign that
saw them produce a 32-19-1 overall record and a 15-6 conference mark that
earned them second place in the West Coast Conference.
The Huskers are projected
to open the series with sophomore lefty Zach Hirsch, who would be making his
first start in a Husker uniform. Gonzaga will counter with Marco Gonzales, who
is coming off a freshman season that saw him earn West Coast Conference
Co-Player-of-the-Year and Co-Freshman-of-the-Year honors. He also earned Freshman
All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
and from Collegiate Baseball.
Head Coach Mark Machtolf
is entering his ninth season at Gonzaga and the team is coming off its fourth
30-win season in the past five years. Machtolf led his team to a second-place
finish in the West Coast Conference in 2011 and his team has been picked to
finish in the same spot by the league's coaches in 2012.
Zags return seven starters from a year ago, including seniors Royce Bolinger,
Andy Hunter and Eric Lane, juniors Billy Moon, Clayton Eslick and Steven
Halcomb, and sophomore Marco Gonzales. Gonzales and senior Tyler Olson are the
only two pitchers on staff that are expected to return to the same role in
A two-way player,
Gonzales was named a freshman All-American on the mound by the National
Collegiate Baseball Writers and Collegiate Baseball in 2010 after posting an
11-2 record with four complete games and a 2.57 ERA. The lefty also handles the
stick well, as he hit. 291 with 10 doubles and five home runs last year.
Prior to the 2012 season,
Gonzales was named a second-team All-American by the National Collegiate
Baseball Writers Association and was named to the Collegiate Baseball
Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America third team.
left-handed Gonzales started 46 games last season, 15 as a pitcher. On the
mound, he led the conference in wins (11) and had the second most strikeouts
(90). The Fort Collins, Colo., native started the year with an 0-2 record on the
mound, before he received his first win at Missouri. He would win his next five
starts and during the streak he pitched three straight complete-games.
facing Gonzales on Friday night, the Huskers are expected to see a pair of
seniors on Saturday and Sunday. Olson is set to take the mound on Saturday
night and Andy Hunter is projected to get the ball on Sunday.
was 6-5 last year with a 3.97 ERA. The lefty was third on the team in starts
with 13 and produced two complete games.
Opposing batters hit .287 off him with 89 hits, while he had 63
strikeouts and 29 walks in 79.1 innings of work.
started three games in 2011, but saw most of his work out of the bullpen in 14
total appearances. Over 39.1 innings of
work he produced 34 strikeouts and gave up 15 earned runs for a 3.43
Moon is arguably the Bulldog's top threat after hitting .337 as a sophomore.
The outfielder led the team in RBIs (41), while also ranking in the top five in
runs (31), doubles (14) and home runs (3) a year ago.
also had a solid junior season, as he produced 11 doubles and 25 RBIs. Besides
Moon, the only other returning player to hit above .300 last season is Lane.
The senior infielder hit .314 last season with a team-leading 39 runs.
Series History: The two teams have never met before.
Kale's on First
Senior outfielder Kale
Kiser will start the 2012 season with a 26-game on-base streak that reaches
back to April 3, 2011. Kiser ranked second on the team in on-base percentage
last season at .417, trailing All-American Cody Asche, who produced a .424
on-base percentage. Kiser led the team with a .467 on-base percentage as a
sophomore in 2010 and hit .345.
Starting the Lefty
With lefty Zach Hirsch
schedule to open the season for the Huskers, it will mark the first time since
2007 that a left-handed pitcher has opened the year for NU. Prior to Thad
Weber's start in 2008, the Huskers had started a lefty in seven of the previous
Hirsch is also slated to
become the first Husker pitcher to make his first career start in a season
opener since Michael Mariot in 2009 and before that, Shane Komine in 1999.
Huskers Picked Fourth by
The Big Ten coaches have
picked Nebraska to finish fourth out of the league's 11 teams in 2012. Three
Husker juniors were also named to the 'Players to Watch List', including
right-handled pitcher Travis Huber, right-handed pitcher Tom Lemke and first
baseman/designated hitter Kash Kalkowski.
After winning a share of
the of the Big Ten title last season for the first time since 1979, Michigan
State was picked as the league favorite. The Spartans were followed by Purdue,
Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Illinois, as only the top six teams were
released by the conference office.
Eight Draftees on 2012
For the third straight
year, Nebraska's 2012 roster boasts a total of eight Huskers who have been
previously selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, including Kash
Kalkowski and Travis Huber, who have each been picked twice.
New Faces on the Dirt
Fans will see a re-tooled
Husker infield in 2012 as only second baseman Bryan Peters will be back in the
same position he played a year ago.
After posting 53 of his
55 starts at first base in 2011, junior Kurt Farmer will switch corners in 2012
and take over for the departed Cody Asche at third base. Farmer will have big
shoes to fill, as Asche led the Huskers in nearly every offensive category,
including a school-record 27 doubles, on his way to being drafted in the fourth
round by the Philadelphia Phillies. The staff is confident in Farmer, after he
hit .275 and drove in 32 runs in his first season as a full-time starter in
2011. He should also provide a great glove at the hot corner, as Erstad
believes he has the best hands on the team.
To Farmer's left will be
true freshman Pat Kelly out of Red Wing, Minn. Kelly looked great during the
fall and earned the confidence of the coaching staff. He looks to be the first
freshman to start a season opener at
shortstop since Ben Kline started their as a freshman in 2008 at Stanford.
Peters will once again
lock down the second base position after starting 55 games a year ago. Along
with being solid in the field, Peters led the team in hit-by-pitches (18),
sacrifices (18) and stolen bases (12) last season.
One of the biggest
surprises a year ago was the transformation of Kash Kalkowski. The Grand Island
native started his Husker career as a pitcher in 2009 and had just four
at-bats. Following a redshirt year in 2010 while recovering from surgery,
Kalkowski successfully made the transition to the field and was arguably the
team's top offensive threat behind Asche last season. After earning all his
starts in 2011 in the outfield and at designated hitter, Kalkowski will look to
continue his offensive growth, while moving to first base.
Erstad will look to
junior Josh Scheffert to play both corners of the infield, as a designated
hitter and possibly on the mound. Following a down season in 2011, Scheffert
has put in the time during the offseason to rebound in 2012.
Freshman Blake Headley
can play any spot in the infield and Austin Christensen could see time at first
base, designated hitter and on the mound. Headley was unable to play during the
fall due to a wrist injury, while Christensen saw time on the mound and in the
field. The younger brother of junior outfielder Chad Christensen, Austin came
to Nebraska as a pitcher, but hit .400 (4-for-10) with a double, three runs
scored and an RBI during the team's annual Red-White Series in the fall to earn
playing time in the field as well.
Take it for the Team
In 2011 the Huskers were
hit by pitch 89 times, which tied them for 13th nationally. The team was led by
Bryan Peters, who was hit 18 times to tie for 20th nationally.
A junior in 2012, Peters
continues to climb the Husker career chart in hit-by-pitches and enters the
year with 36, which ties him for fifth with Jake Mort (2005-09). Senior Kale
Kiser is also on the career top-10 list with 32 hit-by-pitches.
Daniel Bruce (2002-05)
holds the NU career record with 67 hit-by-pitches.
Options in the Outfield
Many players will be
vying for time in the outfield this year with all three spots open. Senior Kale
Kiser made his transition to the outfield with ease last season after playing
the infield his first two seasons at Nebraska. Kiser drew 41 of his 51 starts
in the outfield and was a table-setter for the Huskers with an on-base
percentage of .417.
Junior Chad Christensen
is a veteran on the diamond for the Huskers, but will be a rookie in the
outfield this season. After starting all 55 games at shortstop in 2011,
Christensen will look to take his defensive skills to one of the three outfield
spots in 2012
Pritchard is the youngest of the returning players and will most likely see
most of his time at designated hitter. One of the best hitters on the team,
Pritchard provides the Huskers with a solid bat on the left side of the plate
after hitting .304 as a freshman with an on-base percentage of nearly .400.
The three returners will
also be pushed by a group of newcomers in Austin Darby, Rich Sanguinetti, Ty
Kildow and Quentin Urban.
Sanguinetti has the most
experience of the group, as he is a junior college transfer from Texarkana CC,
where current Associate Head Coach Will Bolt was the head coach the last four
seasons. The junior is a pure hitter and has great baseball speed, evident by
his perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts in three games during the team's
fall Red-White Series.
Darby is also solid at the plate and the coaches know they need to get
him on the field because of his ability to drive in runs, while Urban is
one of the best athletes on the team. Urban originally committed to South
Dakota to play football before switching his commitment to Nebraska following
the hiring of Erstad as head coach.
Kildow joins the Husker baseball team after two seasons of
football at Nebraska. A three-time first-team Super State pick on the diamond
at Millard South, Kildow is arguably the fastest player on the 2012 squad.
Right in the Fire
True freshman Pat Kelly
will learn on the fly as the Red Wing, Minn., native is projected to start at
shortstop for the Huskers on Friday night.
Named one of the top prep
players in the state of Minnesota, Kelly was one of seven finalists for the
2011 Minnesota Minute Men Mr. Baseball Award and was a 2011 All-Metro pick by
the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He has played in many big games, as he played
summer baseball for the Ohio Warhawks, which is one of the top 18-under
programs in the county. Some of the Major Leaguers to come from the
organization include, Pat Burrell, A.J. Pierzynksi, Brandon Phillips, Drew
Storen, Danny Espinosa, Freddie Freeman, Roy Halladay and Mike Napoli.
With the start, Kelly
will be the first freshman to start a
season opener at shortstop since Ben Kline started their as a freshman in 2008
Behind the Dish
After catching a
career-high 30 games in 2011, Cory Burleson returns for his senior year as the
most experienced catcher on the roster following the departure of Patric
Tolentino. Not only will Burleson need to mentor a young pitching staff, but he
will also need to continue to improve on his run production after ranking fifth
on the team last season with 21 RBIs in 40 games.
Sam Stucky is the only
other catcher who has stepped on the field in a Husker jersey, as he saw action
in four games last season. Prior to the start of practice, Erstad raved about
Stucky's work ethic during the offseason.
Also available behind the
plate are junior transfer Richard Stock and freshman Taylor Fish. Stock will
provide a power left-handed bat off the bench and has two years of eligibility
after playing at Southern Cal and Pierce College in Los Angeles. While at USC,
Stock pulled off the rare feat of hitting a home run on the first pitch he saw
in his first career at bat. Fish will learn from the veterans of the group
after earning a spot on the team as a walk-on from Kearney.
With nine returning pitchers and six newcomers, new Pitching Coach Ted
Silva will have a young group in 2012 that includes one senior, five juniors, five sophomores and four freshmen. While the staff brings
back a majority of its weekend rotation, the biggest void is the one left in
the closer role by 2011 second-team All-Big 12 performer Casey Hauptman.
Three pitchers are likely to get a shot at the job in 2012, including
Tyler Niederklein, Travis Huber and Brandon Pierce. Niederklein was a weekend
starter for the Huskers in 2011 and posted a 8-3 record, but Erstad likes his
attitude on the mound and thinks Niederklein has the right make-up to close game. Pierce was second on the team last year in saves with
two, while Huber is a hard-throwing transfer from the College of Southern
Idaho. The right-handed Huber has been selected twice in the MLB Draft by the
By the time the conference season rolls around,
two of the spots in the weekend rotation are likely to go to sophomore Jon
Keller and junior Tom Lemke. Keller got great experience as a true freshman
with 14 starts last season and was second on the team with 64.2 innings worked. Lemke, who is coming off surgery to remove a blood clot last
summer, looks to have his first healthy season at Nebraska after joining the
team from Northwest Christian High School in Phoenix, Ariz., where he was a
10th-round pick by the Texas Rangers.
The young bullpen will lean on the experience of junior Dylan Vogt, who
worked 47.0 innings over 21 appearances last season, which was tied for second
on the team. Sophomore lefty Tyler King also saw work in 21 games, with a 2.21
ERA and 16 strikeouts in 20.1 innings of work. Spots
throughout the bullpen are up for grabs and should create great
competition for time on the mound.
One Field to the Other
After playing two seasons
of football under Head Coach Bo Pelini, sophomore Ty Kildow will now use his
talents on the baseball field at Nebraska.
Kildow joined the
baseball team in the fall as a walk-on and worked his way onto the roster.
Arguably the fastest player on the team, Kildow's speed will be an asset on the
basepaths and in the outfield.
Kildow was a three-time
first-team Super-State pick as an outfielder at Millard South High School. He
hit over .400 each of his final three seasons, including a .447 average as a
junior. He stole 29 bases as a senior and hit .431.
Back in Red
Along with Head Coach
Darin Erstad, two other former Huskers will be putting on the Nebraska baseball
jersey once again in 2012 as former players Will Bolt (1999-02) and Jeff
Christy (2005-06) are part of Erstad's coaching staff.
Bolt is the Huskers' associate
head coach and returned to his alma mater after serving as the head coach at
Texarkana College the past four years. Bolt works with the Husker infielders
and helps direct the offense, while also coaching third base.
Prior to his time at
Texarkana, Bolt was a volunteer assistant at Texas A&M for two seasons
after serving as a volunteer on the Huskers' 2005 College World Series Team.
As a player, Bolt was a
member of then-Head Coach Dave Van Horn's first recruiting class. The Conroe,
Texas, native was a four-year starter and team captain on Nebraska's 2001 and
2002 College World Series teams.
Christy returns to
Nebraska as the team's volunteer assistant after working in the same position
at Wichita State in 2011. One of the top catchers in program history, Christy
works with the catchers and coaches first base.
After playing his first
two seasons at Barton County CC, Christy caught a school-record 64 games as a
junior in 2005, hitting .236 with 32 RBIs, while throwing out 45 percent of
opposing runners, including 8-of-11 runners in the postseason. An
honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick in 2006, Christy hit .284 with eight homers
and 32 RBIs, while leading the Huskers to 42 wins and a No. 6 national seed.
Drafted by the Minnesota
Twins, Christy reached Triple-A Rochester in both 2008 and 2009.
Huskers Across the
The 2012 Huskers hale
from 11 different from all across the nation. Nebraska natives make up 12 of
the 32 players on the 2012 roster, while Texas has the second most
representatives at five. Other states with more than one player include, Iowa
(3), Colorado (3), Arizona (2) and Kansas (2).
9-Game Package Available
Two new nine-game
packages are now available for fans who want to see the Huskers' first baseball
season in the Big Ten Conference under new Head Coach Darin Erstad. Named the
Diamond Deal, fans can either purchase reserved tickets for nine games in the lower
grandstand (sections 110 and 112) or in the Homerun Terrace (behind right
Fans are able to choose
nine games from any of the Huskers' 31 home games in 2012. The non-conference
season includes games with Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Northern Colorado,
Creighton, CSU Bakersfield, Wichita State and 2011 College World Series
participant California. The Huskers will open the conference season against
Illinois on Friday, March 23, before also hosting Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota at
Total price of the
package is just $90 for either the grandstand or Homerun Terrace. Outside of
season tickets, the Diamond Deal gives fans the opportunity to buy reserved
tickets before single-game tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 7. For more
information on season tickets or the Diamond Deal, visit Huskers.com/Tickets or
call 800-8-BIG RED during business hours.