Huskers Continue Homestand with Louisiana Tech
Nebraska - Louisiana Tech
Thur., March 15 - 3:05 p.m.: So. Zach Hirsch (LHP, 1-1) vs. La. Tech - Phil Maton (RHP, 3-0)|
Fri., March 16 - 1:35 p.m.: So. Jon Keller (RHP, 2-0) vs. La. Tech - Trevor Petersen (RHP, 1-1)
Sat., March 17 - 1:35 p.m.: Jr. Tom Lemke (RHP, 1-1) vs. La. Tech - Chris Sadberry (LHP, 2-1)
Sun., March 18 - 11:05 A.m.: Jr. Tyler Niederklein (RHP, 2-1) vs. La. Tech - Jamie Gilley (RHP, 1-1)
Nebraska - Northern Colorado
Tues., March 20 - 6:35 p.m.: TBA vs. Northern Colorado - TBA
Wed., March 21 - 1:35 p.m.: TBA vs. Northern Colorado - TBA
This Week: After starting its 17-game homestand with a pair of wins over Kansas State and Nebraska-Kearney, the Nebraska baseball team split a four-game series with No. 18 California and beat South Dakota State on Tuesday afternoon at Hawks Field to improve to 11-6 on the season. The Huskers now host Louisiana Tech for a four-game series starting on Thursday, March 15, before hosting Northern Colorado for a pair of games on Tuesday, March 20, and Wednesday, March 21.
Tickets: Season and single-game tickets can be purchased at Huskers.com, by calling 1-800-8BIGRED or by visiting the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office across the street from Memorial Stadium. The Huskers are also offering a nine-game ticket deal this season. Named the "Diamond-Deal" fans can pick any nine of the Huskers' 31 home games and have the same seat for all nine games.
Television: There will be no TV this week, but every game will be carried on HuskersNSide (subscription needed).
On the Radio: Fans across Nebraska and around the world can listen Greg Sharpe, Lane Grindle and Jeff Culhane 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 Huskers hold a 9-3-1 advantage in the all-time series that started in 1973 with Louisiana Tech. The two teams last met during the 2003 season, when Nebraska traveled to Ruston, La., and took 2-of-3 from the Bulldogs. Tuesday's meeting with Northern Colorado will be the 40th all-time meeting between the two teams, with NU holding a 35-4 lead in the series. The two teams met four times last season (twice at the Bearkat Tournament in Huntsville, Texas, and twice in Lincoln), with the Huskers winning all four games by a combined score of 33-14.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are making a five-game road trip to Nebraska, as they will play the Creighton Bluejays on Wednesday night, before opening a four-game series with the Huskers on Thursday at Hawks Field.
Entering Wednesday night's game with Creighton, the Bulldogs have posted a 9-6 record, including a 4-3 record on the road.
The Bulldogs have played just one game against a team from a BCS Conference, as they beat Vanderbilt, 9-3, in Nashville on Feb. 29.
Offensively, Louisiana Tech is led by Alex Williams and Ryan Gebhardt, who are each hitting over .400 on the season. Williams leads the team in average (.431), hits (28), home runs (6) and RBI's (24). Gebhardt is close behind with a .422 average and 27 hits.
Williams has produced nearly one-third of the Bulldog's 92 RBI's, as Austin Hedges and Beau Bayliss are the only other players with double-digit RBI's at 10 each.
On the basepaths, only Gebhardt has stolen more than one base with two. As a team, the Bulldogs are 8-for-14 in steal attempts.
Freshman Phil Maton leads the Bulldogs on the mound with a 2.81 ERA and a 3-0 record. Slated to start Thursday's series opener against the Huskers' Zach Hirsch, Maton has thrown a team-high 25.2 innings, while giving up nine runs on 17 hits with 30 strikeouts.
No other Bulldog starter has an ERA below 5.00, while the team carries an ERA of 5.86.
Tough With Two
Chad Christensen has been clutch for the Huskers in 2012, as the junior has driven in 11 of his team-leading 19 RBI's with two outs through the team's first 17 games. Junior college transfers Richard Stock (9) and Rich Sanguinetti (6) have also performed well under pressure, with a combined 15 RBI's coming with two down.
In 55 games a year ago, All-American Cody Asche led the team with 16 two-out RBI's, while only three players had 10 or more on the year, including Asche, Kash Kalkowski (14) and Bryan Peters (12).
Last season Christensen played in all 55 games and totaled just four two-out RBI's.
Just the Right Pritch
Sophomore Michael Pritchard has been one of the Huskers' most lethal weapons this season with a .426 batting average and a .471 on-base percentage.
A left-handed batter, Pritchard has done well against lefty pitching with a .353 average and has been nearly unstoppable against rightys with a .467 average.
With Pritchard batting in the leadoff spot, the Huskers are 5-1 entering Thursday's game.
Nebraska's 2-2 series split with the No. 18 California Golden Bears snapped a series losing streak to ranked squads.
The Huskers had lost their last four series against ranked teams since taking 2-of-3 from No. 5 UCLA at Hawks Field in early March last season.
Transfer Richard Stock has been a welcome addition to the Husker offense in 2012. The junior from Westlake Village, Calif., is hitting a team-high .429 on the year and leads the team in doubles (6), while also ranking second on the teams in hits (21), on-base percentage (.462) and RBI's (13).
After playing in just one game of the Huskers' season-opening series against Gonzaga, Stock was named to both the Kleberg Bank College Classic and Dairy Queen Classic All-Tournament teams at designated hitter.
Stock has driven in a run in seven of his last eight games, including three in a 12-5 win over No. 21 California on March 10. Stock has at least on hit in all but one game he has played in this season, including six games with two or more hits and three games with three hits.
A 45th-round pick out of high school by the Brewers, Stock has found new life at Nebraska after playing his freshman season at USC and last season at Pierce College in Los Angeles.
Through Sunday's game with No. 21 Cal on Sunday, March 11, the Huskers ranked 30th nationally out of 291 teams with a .311 team batting average.
Seven Huskers are hitting .300 or better on the year, including Richard Stock, Michael Pritchard and Pat Kelly, who are all hitting over .400.
Fellow Big Ten program Purdue leads the nation with a .373 average.
Home Sweet Hawks
The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 11th year at Hawks Field in 2012. The Huskers are 234-80-1 (.744) since opening the park on March 5, 2002 with a 23-1 win over Nebraska-Kearney.
Nebraska plays a total of 31 games at Hawks Field in 2012, and carries a 5-2 record at home into Thursday's game against Louisiana Tech.
The Huskers are currently hosting a 17-game homestand that started with a 9-3 against Kansas State on Tuesday, March 6, and concludes with a return trip from the Wildcats on Tuesday, March 27.
Pitchers Best Friend
Through 17 games the Huskers have turned 16 double plays, an average of .94 per game. NU is on pace to turn just over 52 double plays this season after only converting 35 a year ago.
Bummer on the Bump
Freshman Aaron Bummer has started to become a weapon for the Huskers out of the bullpen. The lefty has just three appearances on the year, but has yet to give up a hit or run over 4.1 innings of work.
A 31st-round pick by the Yankees out of Sunrise Mountain HS in Peoria, Ariz., Bummer has given up just one walk on the year, while striking out five.
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 entered the year with 36, which tied him for fifth with Jake Mort (2005-09). Peters recently took over third place on the career list with a HBP against Kansas State on Tuesday, March 6. It broke a three-way tie between Peters, Alex Gordon and Nick Sullivan.
Senior Kale Kiser is also on the career top-10 list with right behind Peters with 37 hit-by-pitches after being hit three times in three games against Cal.
Daniel Bruce (2002-05) holds the NU career record with 67 hit-by-pitches.
Off to a Good Start
With their 9-6 win over the Kansas State Wildcats on Tuesday, March 6, the Huskers have won their last 34 home openers dating back to the 1979 season. Nebraska is 11-0 all-time in home openers at Hawks Field.
Senior Kale Kiser is tough on opposing pitchers with his great eye at the plate. During his career at Nebraska Kiser has walked 78 times and struck out just 61 times.
Kiser is hitting just .196 on the season, but continues to get on base for the Huskers with a .439 on base percentage. The senior is a career .285 hitter with a career .429 on-base percentage.
Through Sunday's game with No. 21 Cal on Sunday, March 11, the Huskers ranked 17th nationally out of 291 teams with a .980 fielding percentage.
Entering Thursday's game with Louisiana Tech, the Huskers have committed just 13 errors in 687 chances for a .981 fielding percentage.
Fans are getting very familiar with sophomore Brandon Pierce this season, as the righty leads the Husker with 10 appearances out of the bullpen through 17 games.
After giving up three runs in his second appearance of the year, Pierce has turned the corner with 7.1 innings of shutout baseball over his last eight appearances.
Pierce enters Thursday with a 1.80 ERA, while holding opposing batters to a .176 batting average
The Right 'Hander'
Right-handed pitcher Ryan Hander has been nearly untouchable for Pitching Coach Ted Silva out of the Husker bullpen. The junior has pitched 9.0 innings over seven appearances and has given up just one run on just seven hits. A 39th-round pick by the Dodgers in 2009, Hander has walked just three and struck out five, while holding opposing hitters to a .219 batting average.
Cashing in on Rich
Texarkana CC transfer Rich Sanguinetti had been a key cog in the Husker offense so far this year. Sanguinetti is second on the team with four multi-RBI games, while also leading the team in sacrifice bunts with seven.
The lefty has also shown that he has some pop in his bat with two doubles and two home runs. The home runs came when the Huskers needed them most, as the first was a two-run walk-off shot against New Mexico State at the Metrodome during the Dairy Queen Classic and the second was a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning in a 12-5 win over then No. 21 Cal.
In the Zone
Junior Chad Christensen is locked in right now as the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native leads or is tied for the team lead in seven offensive categories, including hits (28), RBIs (19), runs (13) home runs (3), total bases (42), plate appearances (79) and at bats (71).
Nearly a career .300 hitter entering the year at .292, Christensen is hitting .394 on the season and was named the MVP of the Kleberg Bank Classic after leading the Huskers to victory with a two-out two-RBI double in the top of the ninth to give NU a 8-7 lead.
More impressively, Christensen has shined at the plate while playing both the outfield and infield. After starting 55 games at shortstop in 2011, Christensen moved to the outfield in 2012 and started their before freshman Pat Kelly was injured in the second game of the season. Christensen has started the past 14 games at shortstop. He has moved right back into the position with one errors and 11 double plays in 84 chances.