Nebraska - Illinois
Fri., March 23 - 6:35
p.m.: Jr. Tom Lemke (RHP, 2-1) vs. Illinois - Kevin Johnson (RHP, 3-1)
Sat., March 24 - 2:05
p.m.: So. Jon Keller (RHP, 3-0) vs. Illinois - John Kravetz (RHP, 3-0)
Sun., March 25 - 1:05 p.m.: So. Zach Hirsch (LHP, 2-1) vs. Illinois - Josh
Ferry (RHP, 1-0)
Nebraska - Kansas State
Tues., March 27 - 6:35
p.m.: TBA vs. Kansas State - TBA
With 13 games of their 17-game homestand in the books, the Huskers are set to
open Big Ten Conference play on Friday night when the Illinois Fighting Illini
visit Hawks Field. The three-game series kicks off at 6:35 p.m. on Friday night
and will be shown nationally on the Big Ten Network. The two teams will
continue play on Saturday at 2:05 p.m and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
The Huskers wrap up their current homestand on Tuesday
against the Kansas State Wildcats at 6:35 p.m.
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.
Friday's game will be shown live across the nation on the Big Ten Network and
can be streamed online at BTN2Go.com or through select Apple devices via the
BTN2Go app. The final two games of the Illinois series and Tuesday's game with
Kansas State 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.
Fireworks: Fans will be treated to fireworks following Friday
night's game to celebrate the Huskers' first Big Ten Conference game. Due to
the fireworks, the lot behind right field will be closed and the pedestrian
bridge behind center field will be closed while the fireworks are going on.
Head Coach Dan Hartleb's Fighting Illini come to Lincoln
with a 10-7 overall record and a 4-2 road record. The Illini have won nine of
their last 12 games and are yet to play at home this season, as they started
the year with a 22-game road trip. Under Hartleb, the Illini are 5-1 in
conference openers and 13-8 in Big Ten series openers.
The Huskers and Illini have played two common opponents
this year in Gonzaga and West Virginia. The Huskers were swept, 3-0, by the
Zags to open the year and the Zags swept the Illini, 2-0, as well. While the
Huskers lost to West Virginia, 4-1, at the Dairy Queen Classic in Minneapolis,
Minn., Illinois beat the Mountaineers 14-3.
Offensively, the Illini have seven players who have
started all 17 of their games, including Jordan Parr, who leads the group with
a .369 batting average (24-for-65). Parr also has two of the team's eight home
runs, while Brandon Hohl leads the squad with four bombs.
The Illini are aggressive on the bases with 42 steal
attempts through 17 games, but hasn't seen much success with just 23 steals.
Willie Argo and Davis Hendrickson are the only Illini players with more than
three steals with five and four, respectively.
Even though they haven't shown much power, the Illini are
hitting .294 as a team and have a team on-base percentage of .368. No player on
the team is hitting over .400, but seven players are hitting .290 or better.
Freshman John Kravetz, who is set to start on Saturday,
leads the Illini on the mound with a 1.99 ERA and a 3-0 record in four starts.
In a team-high 31.2 innings, Kravetz has give up 10 runs (seven earned) on 24
hits, while striking out 20 and walking just seven. The righty is yet to give
up an home run on the season and it holding opposing batters to a .209 average.
Friday night's starter Kevin Johnson comes to Lincoln with
a 2.70 ERA and a 3-1 record, including one complete game. After losing to
Gonzaga, Johnson has wins over St. John's, then No. 18 Oregon and Southern
Freshman Josh Ferry will make his second start of the
season on Sunday against the Huskers. The righty is 1-0 on the year with a 4.11
ERA in three appearances. Over 15.1 innings, Ferry has give up eight runs
(seven earned) on 15 hits, while striking out nine and walking seven.
Ronnie Muck has seen the most work out of the Illini
bullpen with seven appearances and 8.1 innings.
On the base paths, catcher Kelly Norris-Jones has thrown
out just five runners in 19 attempts.
In the overall series it gets a bit tricky as the Nebraska
record books show Illinois with a 1-0 record in the series, while the Illini's
record book shows a 3-0 record. Both programs have record of Illinois' win in
1987, while the Illini also so a 3-0 win on 1905 and a 7-3 victory in 1903.
According the Nebraska record books, their was no team in 1903 and Illinois
does not appear on the 1905 schedule. Either way, the Huskers will be looking
for their first win against Illinois starting on Friday night.
Even though the Huskers are ranked ninth nationally and
lead the Big Ten Conference with 24 home runs through March 21, the Huskers
have also put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with their bunting.
On the year, the Huskers have 17 bunt singles through 23
games, including six bunt singles in the last seven games. In 55 games a year
ago, the Huskers hade just 16 bunt singles all season.
Chad Christensen, who leads the team in both home runs (6)
and RBI's (27), leads the team with six bunt singles in six attempts. Bryan
Peters in next with three bunt singles, while Cory Burleson and Rich
Sanguinetti have two each.
Overall, the Huskers are 17-for-22 (.773) when bunting for
a base hit and also have 23 sacrifice bunts on the year, including a team-high
eight from Sanguinetti.
Chicks Dig It
After hitting 30 home runs in 55 games last season, led by
Cody Asche's 12 home runs, the Huskers are averaging over one home run a game
with 24 homers through 23 games.
Though March 21, the Husker ranked ninth nationally with
their 24 home runs, with Richmond leading the way with 35 bombs.
In the Big Ten, no other teams has more than 20 homers and
only four other teams have 10 or more. Michigan and Indiana are tied for second
in the conference with 14 homers each.
Chad Christensen leads the Huskers with six home runs,
which ties his single-season career high, while six other Huskers have at least
two homers, including three each from Josh Scheffert and Pat Kelly.
What a Fourth
The Huskers strongest inning this season has been the
fourth, where they've outscored opponents 37-0. Nebraska has outscored or tied
their opponents this season in every inning but the first, where they have just
nine runs on the year, while giving up 12.
In the first three innings of the game the Huskers hold a
slim 45-41 advantage in runs, but have destroyed opponent pitching their second
time through the order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings with a 85-21
In the seventh and eighth innings the Huskers hold a 43-25
advantage, including 32 runs in the eighth alone, and are tied 12-12 in the
ninth, but the Huskers have not taken an at-bat in the ninth inning in10 games
Tough With Two
The Huskers have gotten clutch hits all season with two
outs, as the team has 63 two-out RBI's. Leading the way is Chad Christensen,
who has driven in 16 of his team-leading
27 RBI's with two outs. Junior college transfer Richard Stock also has
double-digit two-out RBI's with 10.
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 .411 batting average and a blistering
on-base percentage of .469. With Pritchard in the leadoff spot, the Huskers are
9-2 on the season.
A left-handed batter, Pritchard has been tough against
right and left-handed pitching, with a .423 average (11-for-26) against lefties
and a .404 average (19-for-27) against righties.
Most impressive, Pritchard makes the defense get him out
with only four strikeouts in 73 at bats.
Pitchers Best Friend
Through 23 games the Huskers have turned 22 double plays.
NU is on pace to turn just over 53 double plays this season after only converting
35 a year ago.
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 eight
offensive categories, including hits (37), RBIs (27), runs (22), triples (2),
home runs (6), total bases (65), plate appearances (108) and at bats (95).
Nearly a career .300 hitter entering the year at .292,
Christensen is hitting .389 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 20 games at shortstop. He has moved right back
into the position with one errors and 15 double plays in 106 chances.
Drive Him In
As a team the Huskers are hitting .337 with runners in
scoring position and .600 with a runner on third and less an two outs.
With a runner on third and less than two outs, Rich
Sanguinetti leads the team with seven RBI's, while four other Huskers have four
or more RBI's, including five from Richard Stock and four each from Cory
Burleson, Chad Christensen and Kale Kiser.
Freshmen Pat Kelly and Austin Darby have been big
additions to the Huskers this season as the two are each hitting over .330, including
a team-high average of .457 (16-for-35) for Kelly.
Kelly and Darby have combined to start 25 games, while
hitting eight doubles, one triple, four home runs and 20 RBI's.
Darby has seen time in right field, while Kelly has
started at shortstop, second base and designated hitter.
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
took over sole possession of 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. Peters enters Friday's game with 41 career HBP's.
Senior Kale Kiser is
also on the career top-10 list with right behind Peters in fourth place with 38
Daniel Bruce (2002-05) holds the NU career record with 67
He Gets My Vote
Righty Dylan Vogt has arguably been the Huskers top arm
out of the bullpen with a 0.95 ERA in 19.0 innings of work over 10 appearances.
After giving up three runs in his first appearances of the
year, Vogt had given up just one run since and is holding opposing batters to a
.194 batting average.
Home Sweet Hawks
The Nebraska baseball program is celebrating its 11th year
at Hawks Field in 2012. The Huskers are 238-82-1 (.743) 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 9-4 record at home into Thursday's game against Illinois.
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.
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
Senior Kale Kiser is tough on opposing pitchers with his
great eye at the plate. During his career at Nebraska Kiser has walked 83 times
and struck out just 62 times.
Kiser is hitting just .233 on the season, but continues to
get on base for the Huskers with a .465 on base percentage. The senior is a
career .288 hitter with a career .433 on-base percentage.
After hitting just .220 as a sophomore following a .301
average as a freshman, Josh Scheffert re-tooled his swing and is seeing success
with a .409 average in 2012.
Recently he earned the team's first ever Big Ten
Player-of-the-Week honor for his successful week from March 12-18. For the
week, Scheffert hit .650 with three home runs, 10 RBI's and nine runs scored.
The junior is riding a five-game hitting streak, including
a career-high five hits against Louisiana Tech on March 17. Over the last five
games, Scheffert has three doubles, one home run and six RBI's.
Cashing in on Rich
Texarkana CC transfer
Rich Sanguinetti had been a key cog in the Husker offense so far this year.
Sanguinetti is tied with Josh Scheffert
for second on the team with five multi-RBI games, while also leading the team
in sacrifice bunts with eight.
The lefty has also
shown that he has some pop in his bat with four doubles, one triple 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.
Draftees on 2012 Roster
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
Transfer Richard Stock has been a welcome addition to the
Husker offense in 2012. The junior from Westlake Village, Calif., is hitting
.353 on the year and leads the team in doubles (7) and ranks third in RBI's
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
Stock has driven in a run in five runs in his last six and
has seven multi-hit games this season.
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.
The Right 'Hander'
Junior Ryan Hander is the Huskers' go-to guy this year
against right-handed hitters, as he is holding righties to a .148 batting
average. Hander has a 0.82 ERA on the year over 11.0 innings of work and has
given up only one extra-base hit this season.
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.
Nearly one year to the day that Bryan Peters beat No. 5
UCLA with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning on March 6,
2011, junior Rich Sanguinetti completed a ninth-inning comeback against New
Mexico State at the Metrodome on March 3, 2012, with a two-run walk-off home
The two-run shot was the first home run of Sanguinetti's
Husker career and polished off a four-run ninth inning to seal victory. The
Huskers entered the ninth down 4-2 and quickly had life following a pair of
hits. Michael Pritchard led off with a single and then scored from first on
Richard Stock's double to cut the Aggie lead to one at 4-3. Freshman Blake
Headley came in to run for Stock and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by
fellow freshman Austin Darby, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning.
Head Coach Darin Erstad went to his bench once again and inserted Kash
Kalkowski for the afore mentioned Peters with the tying run at third base.
Kalkowski got behind in the count early, but dug deep and laced a single
through the right side with two strikes to tie the game at 4-4. Following an
out by Kale Kiser, the Huskers were down to their last out of the inning when
Sanguinetti came to the plate and lifted preseason All-American closer Scott
Coffman's pitch deep into the right field seats to win the ball game.
Picked Fourth by League Coaches
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
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.
All Good Things Come to an End
Senior outfielder Kale Kiser started the 2012 season with
a 26-game on-base streak that reached back to April 3, 2011.
The Plano, Texas, native reached base in his first eight
games, but saw the streak come to an end against New Mexico State when he
failed to reach base in two plate appearances.